The four stages of learning

The four stages of learning

With every new skill you learn you go through four stages of learning before reaching mastery.

Going from incompetence to competence in a skill is often a slow and uncomfortable process. Understanding this theory will help you to deal better with the emotional ups and downs and helps you to guide others through their learning process.

Stage 1: Unconscious incompetence

You don’t know what you don’t know. In other words, you might not be aware that you lack a certain skill. How do you open your blind spot? One way to find out what skill you need is to ask for feedback.


Stage 2: Conscious incompetence

The realization came that you are lacking a certain skill. This can be very frustrating. To advance through the learning process you need to study the subject and put your new learned skills into action.


Stage 3: Conscious competence

After studying and practicing you are somewhat decent at the skill. However it takes a lot of focus to execute the skill. At this stage a lot of people feel satisfied with the progress they made and the learning stops. That’s a shame. To reach mastery you need to keep practicing and learning.


Stage 4: Unconscious competence

This is the holy grail of learning. Without thinking you can execute a skill that first required all your attention. You mastered the skill!


Apply this framework to guide others through their learning process and to optimize your own.

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