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March 24, 2019

The Four Stages of Learning

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The graphic, which was shared by Simpluris Inc founder Troy Hoffman, is a pyramid divided into four layers, with the bottom layer being is the biggest and broadest, and the size decreasing as you near the top. These 4 levels correspond to the 4 stages of learning, which are unconcsious incompontent, conscious incompetent, conscious competent, and unconscious competent. Those might sound like complex thoughts, but think of each one individually.

So, the bottom of the pyramid is unconscious incompetent. This is an awareness issue where, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. The unconscious part means it doesn’t come to mind, and the incompetent part means you aren’t capable. And since most things in life fit into this category, it is the biggest on the pyramid.  

The next step up is conscious incompetent. This is where you know that it exists, and might even believe it is important to know or master, but you haven’t. It’s that you realize that you don’t know something, but could begin to learn it if you want.

Then, it’s conscious competent, where you have learned and are capable of doing something, but it requires effort and focus. Of our skills, this is most common because we have to be really deliberate about engaging with the skill.

And last, at the top of the pyramid, is unconscious competent, where you can perform without thinking of it. This isn’t necessarily flow state, but it’s the point where you can execute at a high level without even thinking about it.

The reason I ran through these different stages is because having self-awareness about your skill level is essential. Being honest with yourself, and performing the tasks that you are best at and best suited for, will help you be a better contributor for your team and make better use of your time.

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