Have you ever wondered how we learn? How the human mind works on collecting information and then applying it ?
I’m going to talk a little bit about that today.
There are two learning processes that are my favourites in understanding how we as humans learn and they both can work in tandem with each other.
Having an understanding of how you learn is incredibly useful. Once you know how it all works, you can apply the same principles in every skill. It will help you trust in the process of learning and stay motivated when results are lacking.
The biggest reason why people don’t get good at anything. Is because the lack of results de motivates them and eventually makes them quit, just when the fun starts.
Let us discuss about the two concepts I’ll like to talk about today.
First off we have the learning matrix of the conscious competence aka. Maslow’s four stages of learning.
When we find out that we don’t know something that is regarded to be important, we are often motivated to learn more about it. However if we are blissfully unaware of our ignorance then there’s little we can do about it.
“Consciousness” is the first step towards gaining knowledge. We must be consciously be aware of a lack of knowledge which we may find useful to us, or simply needed to advance.
Next is competence is the ability to do a certain thing. You may be highly competent in one area in your life, but have no skill in another.
Your competence level will depend on the task at hand. The idea is that as you build expertise in a new area, you will move from “unconscious incompetence” to “conscious incompetence” and then to “conscious competence” finally reaching “unconscious competence” which is when things get so easy for you that its second nature.
I often use the analogy of learning how to drive a car.
First you might not know how to drive a car and which handles do what, you might not even know what a car is. (unconscious incompetence)
You learn about your lack of knowledge and incompetence in this area, you then strive to learn about cars and how to operate them.(conscious incompetence).
You then learn how to operate a car, what handles do what and you are actively learning how to drive a car. You must however focus a lot on the task or else you’ll make mistakes. (conscious competence).
Once you have gotten your driver’s license and you’ve been driving for a while, driving is easy. You don’t need to concentrate as hard as you did anymore, it’s all second nature now. You have the capacity to relax, turn up the radio and even talk on the phone (unconscious competence).
The second way of learning described in George Leonard’s book “Mastery” where he explain how one’s mastery in martial art can be applied to any skill learning.
The most interesting part is how he see’s learning progression. Most people think progression is a steady growth line. But George explains that we learn in plateaus, almost a flight of stairs as displayed here:
Each stair is a plateau. Each plateau has it’s lessons to be learned.
So what you will see is that once you hit a plateau, you don’t see any growth for quite some time. You keep working at it, but you see no results and no indication of progress, which can be de-motivating for most people, this is where most people give up.
If you keep going and pay your dues, you will finally *get it* and you will notice a sudden increase in skill and success. But you will eventually reach another plateau and your progress will stagnate again, until you go through it all again, finding another piece of the puzzle before you can ascend to the next level.
Leonard explains that there is no limit to mastery.
For example if you’ve learn how to do a roundhouse kick in the beginning stages. After mastery, you will have to go back and learn the roundhouse kick while in mid air. Or you’ll discover new ways of doing things that you only could thought of once you’ve reached an advanced level.
With Maslow’s four stages of learning. You can implement it in Leonard’s stair’ model by putting it on each plateau.
Each plateau you’ll be unaware of what you are missing at first (unconscious incompetence) only to find out what and work you’re way up, until you fix it. Realizing you’re doing something wrong or missing something is a good sign. We call it a sticking point. Realizing that there is a sticking point is encouraging, because it means there is a solution for it.
Well, you learn not to give up.
Too many people give up when the journey has just begun. Lack of results are just part of the process. You learn to trust in the process rather then looking at results to be a indication of your progress.
When results are all you are focusing on, it becomes unhealthy, frustrating and cranky.
So trust in the process, keep going and you’ll reach the next level sooner than you think.
Pay your dues, no one is above the process.