There’s a framework (pictured right, source) known as the four stages of learning, four stages of competence, competence hierarchy, or the learning continuum. It presents the idea that humans can move in four stages from being unskilled to skilled–incompetent to competent. Moving from left to right: unconscious incompetence (not knowing what you don’t know), conscious incompetence (knowing you don’t know, but not knowing how to change), conscious competence (having to intentionally choose change and active skill-building), unconscious competence (not having to think about it, it comes naturally).
I exchange Voxer messages almost daily with a longtime friend. We share with each other details about our lives, emotions, hopes and dreams. The other day, we both took time to name all of the work we were doing mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to change, grow and develop into the people we want to be.
Every day we’re doing this work. Whether or not we’re conscious or unconscious of it, we are operating in some level of development.
In the ebb and flow of life and its demands, we don’t often take time to “speak the obvious.” We don’t tell the stories of our own lives. We don’t recognize the lessons we’re learning, and how we’re evolving and growing. But is it all that obvious? Are we aware it exists?
Last night, I went to the Seattle live taping of The Moth podcast and radio hour (see left, credit). The theme was “Witness,” and ten people told five minute stories that were scored by three teams of judges before one was declared the winner. Fremont Abbey Arts Center was packed with standing room only, and a few kind souls played musical chairs so me and a friend could sit together. At intermission, a woman leaned over and asked me: “Would you get up there and tell a story?” // “Sure,” I said, “It’s not like a TED Talk or a PechaKucha…” // <She interrupted me> “Wait, who are you?! You could give a TED Talk?!” // “No! I’m just saying, anyone could do the work of telling a story from their life. Yes, it would take work to pick it and frame it–but yes, I think it would be something worth trying.”
Some of us are in tune with our own lives and what is happening above ground and under the surface. Others of us are immersed in the flow of time and space and don’t take time to consider what’s actually happening to us and with us. Still others of us are reflective but we aren’t necessarily quick to celebrate and name the accomplishments and rewards of learning and development that are ours.
That conversation and experience at The Moth drew me to think not only about being aware of our own stories and development, but taking the time to validate and aerate them.
A colleague and friend, Steve (pictured right), stood in my office doorway this last week. We were talking about writing and publishing, as he was representing our organization at a special event of publications and scholarship. He said that he was a longtime blogger. At one point, a friend had asked him–why haven’t you written a book? Steve said he stopped to think and realized that he essentially already had! All of the stories he had already told fit together and made a book of chapters that flowed together into a whole. Steve is in the process of releasing a new version of his book now, with a few modifications and a new introduction. He smiled and laughed when thinking about how easy it was–how it all came together.
Today, how can you name and celebrate the work you’re already doing?
The work you’re doing to mentally, emotionally, relationally / socially, physically, spiritually grow and develop isn’t lost. Regardless if it’s unconscious or conscious, that work is going to surprise you by showing up just when you need it along the way. That work you’re doing will stand the test of time.