Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What is Unconscious Competence

We are all unique individuals and as such have unique ways of learning new things, adapting to change, Improving and making progress.

First Things First 
As a preliminary measure before even beginning any new development / Teaching process It is mandatory the Teacher must understand that each subject will require the following:

A willingness to proceed
A Commitment to the process
A flexible and win win approach
A strategy for self management during the process
A strategy to Test the Process = T.O.T.E model
A marker to know when one has succeeded
A reward that is a compelling motivation to the subject

All of these can be threaded into this model, and my recommendation is a strong application of the Meta Model in understanding the beginning stages.

Create a Plan 
Using NLP gives a variety of techniques to use in order to be flexible.
This next process is a way of gauging where a person is at the beginning stages of a new process.
The new process can be in any environment where He/She will learn something new.

To understand where each person is at within this matrix will help identify your development approach.
When learning new things or creating a change in any behavior there are the following 4 levels of competence to consider.

1. Unconscious incompetence
The person is blissfully unaware of their level of deficiency in the behavior, model or action.

Riding a bike and falling off / bumping in to things, as they refuse any help or suggestion and attempt to ride the bike faster.

2. Conscious incompetence 
The Person is now aware there are areas in need of improvement, and aware of their gap in understanding how to achieve excellence in this area.

They are aware there is a technique involve to riding a bike, and have understood the necessity of learning the process, even though they may need more time upfront to learn the new process. They understand the significant gap in their skill set and the advantages of acquiring the skill.

3.Conscious competence
The person is learning the new behavior, action, process in the best way possible for them.

They are learning the new useful application of the process, and are doing well riding with Training wheels, they have not yet become as confident as they will in their new skill.

4.Unconscious competence
The person has locked on to the information and demonstrated their fluency in application, they can maintain the process without thinking.

The Process has become second nature to them, they can skillfully ride the Bike without being nervous of falling off, if they fall off they jump back on again. They are confident in their applications of this skill set.

To your success
Nisada Coaching


  1. I came to this looking for a slightly different model of unconscious competence. In your model, like every model I have seen online, unconscious competence is a fourth and final stage. However I remember reading in an NLP book I forget what) about the idea of achieving unconscious competence as a first stage through applying a suitable learning strategy.

  2. There is another kind of 'unconscious competence', though I can find few references to it online. I read about it in one of the early NLP books.

    By using the 'appropriate strategy' a person is effective at carrying out some task without knowing, or being able to explain (i.e. being conscious of) why they are achieving the desired outcome effectively.

    Is this not a more interesting an exciting meaning for the term?

    1. Yes, this is true this sounds like a Quantum Physics approach of "Information in the field" perhaps or collective consciousness. Similar to once a record is broken for one person then it is possible for another. This happens even if the two people are in different places and know nothing of each other.


Thank you so much for your comments.