Ep 242 4 Stages of Consciousness in Learning

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Episode Notes: 

Join me today as I discuss the four stages of consciousness.  This is an important topic as you take on any new skill – and can be very helpful if you are leading or training anyone in a new arena.  Knowing this information, and allowing yourself and others grace along the way can help to reduce stress and overwhelm as you reach for your goals.

In This Episode:

  • 4 Stages of Consciousness: 
  • Unconscious incompetence
  • Conscious incompetence
  • Conscious competence
  • Unconscious competence 
  • How reaching the pinnace may cause you stress or frustration in your personal life

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Episode Transcribed by OtterAI with minimal edits.

You are listening to the it’s your time podcast and I’m your host certified life coach Michelle Arnold Bourque. In today’s episode, I’m discussing the four stages of consciousness. Welcome to the It’s Your Time Podcast, the podcast. We’re busy professionals, like you get the practical solutions and support you need to gain control of your schedule. So you can strive to be the best in your career, but without the stress and overwhelm. If you’re looking to increase your energy and decrease your stress, you are in the right place.

Michelle Bourque 0:36 Hello, hello, hello, welcome back to the podcast. Friends, I just want to start by saying thank you, thank you for being here. I love hearing how this is helping you. And I love that you are in my world. And I know your time is precious, and you don’t get it back. And I am so grateful that you are choosing to spend a couple of minutes with me here. And over at the socials. It’s so much fun over there. If you’re not already following me at Michelle Bourque coaching on Instagram is usually where I’m the most fun. And I would say the most professional, you can find me over on LinkedIn. Okay, let’s dive into today’s topic, because today I want to talk to you about the hierarchy of competence. In psychology, the hierarchy of competence is the learning model developed by Norbert in the 1970s. And it’s a great tool to understand when trying to learn any new skill. I think it’s very important for everyone to have an understanding of this, because it might just help to give a little grace along the way. And we have all been part of the hierarchy at different times and at different levels in our lives. And I think sometimes learning or starting to learn a new skill can really cause some frustration. And knowing how this hierarchy works might just take a little pressure off of it as we all go through it. I also think that it’s important because if you are teaching or training or in a coaching position, you might want to have some patients depending on where the person is that you are helping this through. So I will start by talking about each level. And I always want you to think about any of the podcasts that you listen to hear how it applies to you. So as I give examples, I see either for myself or with colleagues or clients or mentees, I really want you to start tapping into where this applies to you in your life. Okay. Now, if you were to look at a picture of this hierarchy, it’s designed like a triangle, and at the bottom of the triangle, which is the largest area, that is when you first set out to learn a new skill. What this level is called, is unconscious incompetence. And at the top of the triangle, once you’ve learned the skills, you have reached unconscious competence. So the bottom is unconscious incompetence, and at the top on unconscious competence. And according to this model, as people learn a skill, they advance up a hierarchy of competence, which includes four main levels. Now, I want you to stay with me friends, because this can be a tongue twister. At the bottom, we already mentioned unconscious incompetence. Next up, conscious incompetence. Next up, conscious competence. And then at the top, which we had mentioned, on conscious competence. So let’s start at the bottom of the triangle with an unconscious in competence. This is when you really know nothing. And you don’t even know what you don’t know. And I would say some of the mentees, for example, that I work with who are trying to break into medical device might fall into this category. I also see it with some folks that are in the industry in different roles and want to get into sales. And I specifically recall one mentee recently telling me how frustrated she was that she didn’t get a job, because the team said she lived out of the territory. And she said she knows. And she would have been fine driving. And she understood and she was willing to make the ride. My response was, quite honestly, I don’t think you fully understand the job. And I get it. Now, I said the same thing when I was interviewing, but I had no idea what it even meant and why it was important to live in the territory based on how the schedule goes. And I think that people in this area or in this stage, just need to be able to have a little patience with themselves. And it’s really important to stay curious at this level. When you say I already know, it shuts the brain down to being open to advancing to the next stage. And I have conversations with colleagues who think after X amount of years for example, All in one role, they should just get promoted to a sales position. And again, I’m so curious as to what has actually been done in the current role that equates to said promotion. It’s not just time invested, it’s the results that are garnered over the time. And oftentimes, people aren’t even sure how to get those results. So again, it’s important to be willing to ask questions, to be willing to be wrong about something and our brains hate to be wrong, by the way. But if we can be willing to be open, to remain curious, that’s when the new knowledge can come in. So I would say curiosity is key here from the learner perspective. And I would say patience is also important from the learner perspective. But if you’re the teacher, it’s especially important at this level. And as we combine the two, we can move up to conscious incompetence. Now, this is where you are realizing what it is that you don’t know. And I think about folks who are just coming out of training, and even though it’s been a long time, for me, I recall this as well, you get out of training, and you’re feeling good, you’re ready to go. And then you do your first case solo. And it doesn’t go quite the way they said it would in training, perhaps not exactly by the books. And then the surgeon looks at you and says, Well, what do you think we should do? And you might feel stressed, maybe overwhelmed. And I can recall the first time a surgeon asked me that. And in my head, I was like, What do I think, I think you’re the surgeon and I have my master’s degree in communications. This is when you realize, Wow, I still have some areas of development.

Michelle Bourque 6:40 And here, you need to have grit, persistence, to be willing to keep going. So in stage one, you need to be willing to be wrong. And in stage two, you need to be willing to keep going even when it feels uncomfortable. And I’m reading this great book, The Art of impossible by Steven Kotler, I highly recommend it. And he talks about the rewards that you get when you remain gritty and persistent. And when you accomplish that goal or that skill, your brain gets a hit of dopamine. And that’s what we seek from the pleasure standpoint. Remember, the brain is designed on a motivational triad to avoid pain, seek pleasure, and be as efficient as possible. So that seeking pleasure that dopamine hit is what will have you keep going and you seek to get it again. And then you keep striving that is the persistence that keeps you stacking up win after win after win, and brings you to the next level, which is conscious competence. And I think from a teacher trainer perspective, one needs to keep up the encouragement. And that second stage of really being able to hold the belief for the person that might not quite have it for themselves yet to keep guiding them to continue and to not give up. And that is what will lead to that next level of conscious competence. And for this, we can even think of driving, like you pretty much have all of the skills, you know, the foundations, you can create something right, you can take a road trip and you have the freedom. But at times, it might get a little messy, perhaps you have to you know, turn the music down so that you’re not getting too distracted. If there is traffic forming, or maybe certain weather it takes a little more focus, but overall, you’re on the path and you’re able to get the job done. And I think here, confidence and belief are good to reinforce for the person learning. Remember, I’ve talked about confidence not being where you start any new goal. It comes after you’ve taken action, it is owned by you and listen, if you want more help specifically with confidence, I encourage you to check out the six week program that I am currently offering head to Michelle Bourque coaching.com, forward slash confidence. And each week, you get new tools, and you have the opportunity for email coaching is $47 one time payment, I am loving it. And I really wanted to make it something for more women to gain access to so please go check it out.

Michelle Bourque coaching.com, forward slash confidence. Okay. Now I think from a teacher perspective, here, it’s important to maybe start taking a step back, helped to build the confidence they have in themselves, or should I say, reinforce the confidence that they are building in themselves, and then you go to the top level, and that highest level is on conscious competence. This is where you’ve mastered the skill. You don’t have to consciously think about everything you’re doing at this point. Let’s say you’re driving the car and the music is blasting and you can put the windows down. I almost just said, roll the windows down you guys. Again, ageing myself, when was the last time anyone rolled a window down but you get the point. Heck, you could even chew gum at the same time at this level. And this is when as a teacher You’re, you’re really now, perhaps more able to be a mentor for future guidance. And there will be, of course, the need for future guidance. Because, as I’ve mentioned in previous podcast episodes, I believe that we are all spinning and these spirals of growth where we go around and around. But as we do, we are going up because we learn lessons at each level. And so once we hit conscious competence, if you are a human looking to evolve, there is usually a another skill or goal that you want to reach for. And then guess what, you start right back at the bottom of the triangle. Now, one thing I will say about unconscious competence, so when you’ve mastered the skill, and I just actually recognize this recently on a call with a coach myself is when high achieving folks are in this level, like, let’s say you are a seasoned rep, or whatever your position is, and I say rep, because obviously, it’s my life. And it’s important to have things like a sense of urgency, to be a solution seeker to move with speed, to be able to change and adapt and drop plans, and change and triage and keep going. Sometimes, what makes you successful in your career life might not always be the best for your personal life. And I know for me, sometimes, I will be all over the place, I’ll be talking fast, I’ll have multiple things going on. And Marc is like, can you just slow down. And of course, I’m usually like, no, don’t tell me to slow down. But being able to see what works at work might not always be the best at home or in your personal life. That’s important. And knowing that it might simply be that you don’t recognize what you are doing. Like you don’t realize that you’ve mastered the skill that can help bring a new level of awareness for you to be able to decide if you want to continue working that way, in your personal life. And I think it’s really important part of self awareness, because it is so unconscious at this level, you need to on purpose, remind yourself that not everyone operates the same way you do. And this can also be not only when I’m talking about in your personal life, but having that patience when you’re starting with a new trainee, for example. And recognizing that not everyone operates the same way. And that’s okay. And also I think knowing the levels can help you have a little grace with yourself as you move up each one. And if you’re teaching someone and have the thought, why are they not getting this, just take a breath, maybe consider where they are in the levels. And from there, everyone can make decisions. And listen, change is the one constant in life. So it will be who’ve all of us to have a little grace for others. And I think maybe even more importantly, for yourself, you are the one that you are with most in life. So ease up a bit on the self talk. And you might be amazed at how much more you are able to create in your life. For so many of us for so long. You think? No, I have to beat myself up as a way to keep going to be successful. I don’t want to be soft and I hear you and I say question it. Think about how you talk to your friends or that new person your training. The encouragement is what you are giving them to help them be successful. Give more of that to yourself and I promise not only will you see so many more results in your life. You will have fun along the way. And as my girl Kelly from peloton says, we take the work seriously, but not ourselves. And that’s when we’re willing to jump in and learn and do all the new things. Okay, reminder, check out the confidence program build your confidence and find your purpose. Michellebourquecoaching.com/confidence. That’s what I have for you today. Friends, take what works leave what doesn’t and let’s circle back next week for another opportunity to transform your life. Make it a great day. Take care

Michelle Bourque 14:12 Did you know you can take this work to a deeper level with me one on one, go to Michelle Bourque coaching.com, and click on get started to begin

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