This past Saturday I enrolled in an online memory course to help me improve remembering names and other information. Near the end of the six-hour course, the instructor introduced The Four Stages of Learning we go through when learning anything. I knew I had to share it with you and future audiences.

Why should you care?
You have things that you want to achieve, but at times you feel as though you may not be up to it. You may also feel it’s taking too long or will take too long, so you might not start at all. The Four Stages will give you clarity on what we all go through to achieve mastery in any area. I’m going to explain the stages with examples from my journey of becoming a Professional speaker.

Stage 1 – Unconscious Incompetence – You don’t know what you don’t know
In December 2014 I met my life coach for the first time, she told me she was a full-time coach and a Professional Speaker. That day was the first time I was in front of someone I could touch that was a speaker for a living. Before meeting her I was in the Unconscious Incompetence stage, I didn’t even know that people got in front of audiences, shared their story and could support a family off that alone!

Stage 2 – Conscious Incompetence – You know what you don’t know.
As soon as she explained the speaking industry and what it took to have a full-time speaking career I moved from Unconscious Incompetence to Conscious Incompetence. I was now aware of the industry and how much much I needed to learn to get there full time professionally.

Stage 3 – Conscious Competence – You know how to do it, but you have to think about it.
2 1/2 years in and I’m still in the Conscious Competence stage. Over the past 2 1/2 years, I have met with my coach over 15 times, attended Toastmasters meetings, attended National Speakers Association meetings and have given keynotes all over the country. I’m getting more comfortable, but there’s still thinking that goes into the process. I still reach out to people to mentor me, attend self-development courses and buy books. I still sometimes draw a blank when speaking or wish I would have said this or that after I leave the stage. I know what I’m doing, but I still have to think about it.

Stage 4 – Unconscious Competence – You can do it without thinking about it.
When was the last time you got home, pulled into the driveway and realized you have no idea how you got home? That is Unconscious Competence. The ability to do something without even thinking about it. There are certain times when I’m operating at this level, but I know it takes years to move to this stage entirely. Have you ever seen a Steph Curry three-pointer or the way Serena Williams uses her racket? You see the way they move without thought? That’s Unconscious Competence.

I say all that to say…It takes time to achieve anything well, don’t get discouraged in the process. “Every master was once a disaster,” be ok in the disaster stage knowing that you will one day be a MASTER! Let’s work.

Stay Fearless and I’ll meet you at the top!
Darryl