Before using new information or putting new skills into practice learning has to take place.  This can be aided by experience, reflection, thinking and planning. 


Frequently attributed to Abraham Maslow and known as ‘The Four Stages of Learning.  Any new skill is best learnt in stages one step at a time, in a structured way otherwise competency may not be easily reached.


The fours stages are:



Past experience can often be transferred to new learning and we can be encouraged to see mistakes as part of the learning process.



Reflecting on experience and having feedback from others is also a vital stage of learning.  It is productive if feedback is positive – so giving us ‘building blocks’ to help us improve ‘performance’.




Thinking about information and skills in a questioning way can lead to priorities being set for learning that ‘fits’ with personal objectives and experience.



Although we can learn from experience, we also need to plan how we set about more formal acquisition of appropriate attitude, knowledge and skills.


The learning process does not occur in a linear line as set out above; we can start our learning process at any of the above points.  For example, experience may lead to reflection and reflection may lead to thoughts for planning future learning.  Or we may think about planning to learn new skills and reflect on past experience before putting our plans into action. 




Learning is the important part not how each individual ‘does it’

This way of learning is sometimes known as LAYERS OF LEARNING


·                     Unconscious incompetence: Unskilled oblivious


At this level, we are unaware of our incompetence’s, or lack of skills, knowledge or experience therefore it does not generally cause us a problem, our confidence exceeds our ability; ignorance is bliss and we are blissfully unaware we need anything at all.


·                     Conscious incompetence: Skill identification and behaviour

If we are experiencing this level of learning usually we are becoming aware of what we do not know and don’t understand.  We become aware of our lack of knowledge to carry out the task at hand or begin to feel uncomfortable which may affect our Self-esteem we lose some of the confidence we had. We become aware of our lack of skill in the task, the problem or how to solve the issue at hand and this causes us to feel demoralised, anxious, inadequate, a failure, inept or de-skilled.  This new knowledge helps us to feel less confident when attempting to ‘do something’ or put into practice a new skill, attitude or behaviour; we struggle, realisation, acceptance and positivity is needed to identify the skill lacking and to start practicing it.


·                     Conscious competency: Skill acquisition and Self-belief


This level of learning begins to happen when we notice how we are choosing to use our new knowledge and understandings; putting into practice recently identified skill lack.  As we struggle to master and take control remembering to practice whilst utilise new learning and skills.  It is a more laboured activity, as we become pro-active in not only taking in new understanding but putting into practice that which we have learnt.  We can help our Selves whilst learning to master the new skill, attitude or knowledge by seeking affirmation and constructive feedback on our ‘performance’ from trusted others or more privately from your personal counsellor. We still need to focus, concentrate and practice the new skill but as you become increasingly more experienced the activity becomes more automatic.


·                     Unconscious Competence:


When we move into this level of leaning we have integrated the knowledge and skills which were once new into our unconscious ways of doing things, we have gained the skill it is no longer new.  We forget the process of acquiring the skill and would find it difficult to describe all the components or the blocks we used to build the skill as mastered to a novice.


We have achieved success and “You’ve ‘cracked it’ so to speak.


·        Shared competency: Identity, sponsor others to reach their full-potential


At this level, we have fully internalised the skill and behaviour to carry out the skill with mastery and we are able to impart our awareness, skill and knowledge with competency, we can teach and mentor another to support them to reach their fullest potential. 

Experience, reflection, thinking and planning will probably have begun again before you are consciously competent and the whole process will begin again and continue each time you chose to master a new skill, attitude or assimilate new knowledge and understanding; and will continue as long as you chose to learn.

So what helps this process between each skill level?


Level 1 Unconsciously – unskilled


  •       Identify the skill/goals

  •       Swot analysis

  •       Identify strengths/weaknesses

  •      Johari window

  •       Positive feedback from others


Level 2 – Consciously unskilled - changing behaviour


  •       Affirmations

  •       Strengthening self-esteem/confidence

  •       Mapping

  •       Motivation

  •       Explore expectations

  •       Explore blocks

  •       Find support

  •       Value the skill look forwards to when the skill is gained

  •       Positive feedback from others on your progress

  •       Affirmation from others and to and from self!


Level 3 – Consciously skilled - Skill acquisition and Self-belief


  •       Practice, practice, practice

  •       Revisit level 2 tools if required

  •       Focus/Immediacy skills

  •       Celebrate how far you have come


Level 4 – unconsciously skilled


  •       Use, participate, maintain.

  •       Reflect

  •       Teach

  •       Explain

  •       Build resiliency

  •       Practice new skills

  •       Practice new skills

  •       Practice new skills to maintain skill levels


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