The Stages of Learning

This is a great letter that explains the stages of learning new skills. I think it’s pretty much dead on. There a lot of people out there in this country that have lived a fairly good life, and have specialized quite narrowly for whatever their work has required of them. Read this article, and think about the wide range of skills that our pioneer forefathers had to accumulate, and if not master, at least be competent in. Once you spend some time thinking about it, the idea of these people leaving the east coast for the midwest or the west coast with just whatever was in their wagons and their heads is dauntingly amazing.

With a new skill set (like self-sufficient living in this example) a person at first is unconsciously incompetent (stage #1). Here a person doesn’t even know what they don’t know. They certainly don’t understand the ramifications of not having mastery of the things they don’t know. Most people stop right here. They feel safe. In fact, it’s not until they go a bit further into consciously incompetent (stage #2) when they begin for the first time to understand some of the things at which they are incompetent; and begin to realize the impact of their incompetence on their desired outcome.

This is where most people stop with most skill sets. Why? Because moving on to greater levels of competency is time consuming and, most of all, it’s hard. Frustrating, too. And quite frankly, with the life style most people lead, we don’t have to learn a heck of a lot of skills. You can usually outsource the job to someone else (fix your car, clothes dryer, growing food, building shelter, etc.).

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