Framing Your Growth: The Path Towards Instinctive Mastery
Here is a good way to frame the journey from beginner to mastery:
1. Unconscious incompetence
When you start learning something, you are unaware of your inability to do it well. You lack awareness of how far you have to go and of what your strength and weaknesses are. You are a babe in the woods, innocent of your potential and talent. You lack any objective gauge of your abilities or progress.
2. Conscious incompetence
As you learn, you gain in knowledge, competency, experience and self-control. Your short comings begin to dawn on you as your abilities begin to awaken. Your path becomes clearer as your grasp of your capacities and deficiencies comes into better focus.
You begin to accurately see what you do well and where you need work, where you falter and how you might improve. Hopefully you experience enough momentum and positive feedback to push past this…
3. Conscious competence
Experience yields greater competence and confidence. You come to a point where you can do this well, but it still requires prep and thought– a conscious effort to dial up your powers and successfully deploy your talent.
4. Unconscious competence (instinctive mastery)
Finally you reach a point where it flows naturally, intuitively, effortlessly. There is an economy of delivery and no wasted energy in doing it well. It comes easily and without mental strain. You “deliver the goods” without doing any self-harm.
You have mastered the craft with a full appreciation of the art as practiced by others- your sensitivity is refined, your confidence is fully fortified. You also have command of your own creative powers, which are quickly, even instantly accessible.
Though your growth can continue and your powers of expression can continue to deepen and expand, it can be accurately said that you have “mastered” your craft.