Understanding the Learning Journey

The habit of being a learner is such an important reminder as we do this work.

I remember my first day of training as part of the Art of Coaching Certification program. I was struggling through a role play and was beginning to get frustrated. As we were headed to lunch, I had a conversation with Elena. She explained that my struggles were understandable and with a comforting smile she shared that I was just at the conscious incompetence level of learning. Wait, what? This was supposed to be encouraging? Did I hear her correctly, she just called me incompetent? I hadn’t heard of the Conscious Competence Ladder, so of course at lunch I googled it. This framework (developed by Noel Burch in the 1970s), as Elena shares in Onward, “helps us understand four stages of learning. The model highlights the factors that affect our thinking as we learn a new skill: Consciousness (awareness) and skill level (competence). It identifies four levels that we move through as we build competence in a new skill: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence.”

This framework then became my guide as I worked through the program. What skill are you currently working on? What level are you at? How can this framework change your perspective on your learning?

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