“The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The willingness to learn is a choice.” —— Brian Herbert

To help you learn new skills in the future, I’d like to invite you to reflect on a learning process through employment of the so-called “conscious competence” learning model.

Let’s imagine this scenario: You’ve been feeling overwhelmed and stressed during the last few weekends and you don’t know why. You are at stage # 1, Unconscious Incompetence (You don’t know what you don’t know).

You share your concern with a close friend while you have a chat with her. Thanks to that chat, you start seeing how much you love your social life on weekends: hiking with your hiking groups, attending your family’s and friends’ events and parties, meeting with school buddies for drinks, and serving as a volunteer at the hospital. You also conclude that the root of your problem lies in not having an ideal balance. With all these social activities going on, you don’t have any time to relax and restore your energy before the upcoming work week. Saying “No” to people and fun activities seems to be a solution, but almost impossible for you. You can’t even imagine if or how you can do it. You think they may not invite you anymore, thus jeopardizing the relationships. You are courageous and have guts to acknowledge your lack of skills. Here you are actually showing your capacity to learn and transition from stage #1 Unconscious Incompetence to stage # 2, Conscious Incompetence (You know what you don’t know).

Though saying “No” is challenging for you, it is the skill you want to obtain. Your interest, ability and willingness to learn, make mistakes, overcome challenges, and your determination to acquire this new skill kick in … With a strategy in mind, with focus and concentration on your needs, your situation, the needs of others and their circumstances, you are now skillfully and politely saying ‘No’ whenever you need to while preserving and maintaining warm relationships with others. It leads to a more satisfying balance between your activities and downtime on weekends. Guess what? – Here you are thriving at stage # 3, Conscious competence (You know what you know).

After you skillfully say “No” about 50 times to 30 different people, you become a master of saying ‘No’. It comes without mental effort on your part and it happens fast, naturally, easily, and graciously. You arrive at stage # 4, Unconscious Competence! (You don’t know what you know). What a great place to be in!

You are eager to start the process all over again with a new learning challenge, right? 🙂 That’s what I thought!

Can you think of a skill you would love to learn, but haven’t started working on?

If so, how would you benefit from acquiring that skill? When can you start?

How do you create a learning environment for yourself?

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