Also described as “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill” which provides a model for learning anything.
It suggests that individuals are initially unaware of how little they know, or unconscious of their incompetence. As people recognize their incompetence, they consciously acquire a skill, and then consciously use that skill. Eventually, the skill can be done without consciously being thought through, and the individual at this point is said to have unconscious competence.
The Four Stages:
1. Unconscious Incompetence
The person does not understand or know how to do something and doesn’t recognize the deficit. At this point, the person must first recognize his or her own incompetence before moving on to the next stage.
2. Conscious Incompetence
Though the person does not understand or know how to do something, they are aware of their deficit. The integral part of this stage is making mistakes, and learning from them.
3. Conscious Competence
At this stage the person understands or knows how to do something but, demonstrating this knowledge requires concentration. The process may be broken down into steps, and there is a heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.
4. Unconscious Competence
In the final stage, the person has had so much proactive with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed and taught depending on how and when it was learned.
Now that we’ve laid out the ground work, let’s take a situation that parallels the Four Stages of Competence
I’m at the track with my friend Justin, and it is his first visit to live racing. We each buy a program and head out to the apron to sit at a table and mull over the races. The first race is due to go off in 30 minutes, plenty of time for me see if this is a race I want to get involved in.
Justin on the other hand opens the program to the first race and has no idea where to start. He sees the horse’s names and a few other things in the program that make a little sense, but overall he is in the dark. He doesn’t know what handicapping is let alone what it means. He is Unconsciously Incompetent.
A few silent minutes pass, and he figures out that he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. He is aware of his deficit. At this point he becomes Consciously Incompetent. He realizes in order to handicap and bet a race he needs more knowledge of the principles of handicapping.
At this point, the quickest way for him to learn is by asking me questions and me explaining what everything in the program stands for and how to put it all together. At this point it’s 10 minutes to post, I decide I’m going to bet the 7 horse, and box it with the 4, who is the favorite. Justin asks me why, and I give him my explanation. Justin, still unsure of himself, passes the race.
The racing day goes by, and Justin is picking up more and more information. He is becoming surer of himself and is technique and beings to bet. He is focused and determined, concentrating on each race as they come up. He has reached Conscious Competence.
It is a few months later now. Justin has been reviewing past performances and results charts every single day. He has learned which races he can exploit and which ones to pass. He knows that when he goes to the racetrack, opportunities will show up because he showed up.
It no longer takes him all 20 to 25 minutes to handicap a race; instead it takes him just a few minutes. The rest of the time is mapping out his wagers. He has reached the point of Unconscious Competence.
Everyone goes through these stages when they begin something new. No exceptions. When you do something repeatedly, over and over, you begin to build that felt sense that can’t be taught. It has to come from the work, and from that work comes the insights.
Eventually, it will become second nature to you. You’re preparation will be effortless. You will have seen and digested so many races that your instinct will be razor sharp. There will be no more hesitation and second-guessing yourself. You will celebrate the bet before the race is run.