I’m going to make you wait until the end of this blog post before I spill my secret: the one skill you need to develop in order to master everything.
You’ll see why I’m smiling to myself in just a few minutes.
First, I’m going to walk us through a process called The Four Levels of Learning.
Depending on how long you’ve been in personal development, you may have heard of some of these concepts before. But I want to present them in a new context to give you an innovative way to implement them and truly understand what they’re all about.
Maybe you’ve heard this line.
Every master was once a disaster.
If there’s a skill set you want to elevate, you’ve got to be willing to be a disaster first. Oftentimes, we can be tempted to appear perfect from the beginning, and that just doesn’t work.
When you were a kid, you didn’t care if you messed up, right? But, over time, society trains us to be embarrassed and humiliated by mistakes and failures, so we avoid them at all costs.
There are also a number of people who think the basics are beneath them, certain skills they don’t want to bother mastering. We develop negative opinions about subjects we know absolutely nothing about.
Let’s not be those people.
So, what are the Four Levels of Learning, and how do I go about this process of skill development?
Level #1: Unconsciously Incompetent
In this beginning stage, you’re clueless that there are even skills you don’t have.
You don’t know that you don’t know.
When the pandemic started, we knew nothing about the virus. We didn’t know that we didn’t know. All I knew back in January was that our business wasn’t doing as well. Then Google and Apple and Amazon made announcements. Disneyland closed. And it snowballed from there.
There are a lot of things in your life that, once upon a time, you didn’t know. Skill sets you didn’t have. You weren’t born walking and talking and running.
Real estate investment is a skill set. Learning to cook is a skill set. Being a parent is a skill set. Learning to be self-employed is a skill set.
We can always take our natural talent and make it better. If you’ve ever been disappointed in the compensation you’ve received for something, increase your skill set.
And be willing to start from the very beginning, not even knowing what you don’t know.
Level #2: Consciously Incompetent
You still don’t know what you’re doing. You still haven’t mastered anything. But the difference between levels one and two is that now, you know what you don’t know. You’re aware that you don’t know jack.
To get from Unconsciously Incompetent to Consciously Incompetent, you have to rely on someone else. You have to be brought from one point to another. You can’t do that solo. You can’t teach yourself something you don’t know you don’t know. Someone else has to jumpstart that process for you—via a book, a podcast, a YouTube video, whatever.
Right now my family is talking about learning another language together. Maybe Mandarin Chinese. This is exciting for me.
As I grow my business via my Facebook group and my YouTube Channel, I’ve been learning so much from all of you. That’s exciting to me too.
This stage isn’t always exciting though. In fact, the number one emotion in this second stage is probably frustration. You feel like it will take forever to get to the fourth stage. Maybe you freak out about everything you don’t know. You want to quit.
You say unhelpful things to yourself. “How can I be so stupid? Why is it taking me so long?” You play the comparison game with others who are farther ahead.
That language doesn’t serve you. It’s not going to help you learn it faster. It’s not going to get you excited to learn it.
One area of my life where I feel stuck right now is meditation. I’m aware of how much I don’t know, and I’m frustrated. It’s hard to keep practicing. It’s not fun right now. I didn’t get it right again today. I’m not feeling encouraged.
I have to keep reminding myself not to quit. Not at this stage.
Level #3: Consciously Competent
Now, you feel like you’re getting somewhere. You know that you know. BUT you still really have to focus on it.
Remember when you were first learning how to drive? You needed complete silence to focus. You had your hands at 10 and 2, gripping the steering wheel tightly. You were on high alert. No radio blasting or windows rolled down. Nothing could come in to distract you or you’d mess up.
My 12-year-old is learning video editing right now. She edited some of my videos for me last week. I didn’t fix them. I posted them. Done.
Is she perfect at what she does? Not yet, but she’ll get better and better. She’ll hit all four stages and have a new skill set. She’ll be a video editor at age 12.
Don’t give up. Don’t quit. You’re almost at the final—and best—stage of the process.
Level #4: Unconsciously Competent
Now you can drive down the highway while talking on the phone, putting on make-up, and eating chicken nuggets. (I don’t recommend this, by the way, but some of you have some real talent.)
Step four is the fun part. This is the part where we pay money to watch people who are unconsciously competent.
When I say the name “Bob Ross,” many of you older folks know exactly who that is. That guy could talk about painting and teach you how to paint, all while painting a masterpiece himself.
Bob Ross is unconsciously competent PERIOD.
There are a number of individuals who are unconsciously competent in what they do. Athletes. Scientists. Math wizards. Business people.
The Olympics is a collection of humans of all ages and ethnicities from all over the world who are unconsciously competent. Even the person who comes in dead last in their event. They got there. They’re awesome.
And now are you ready for my big point? The one skill you have to master above all others?
See how I made you wait to find out? You scrolled to the bottom of this post right away, didn’t you?
The one skill you need to develop as the key to mastering all other skills is patience. Primarily patience with yourself.
Now, sure, I understand you might have an urgent need for income or freedom from pain and suffering. That’s what usually motivates us, right?
But you’ve got to till the soil, plant the seed, water it, give it sunshine, and wait. If you’re not patient during the beginning period when you’re nurturing you, you’ll get frustrated and quit.
Some jobs during this economic crisis will change. New skill sets will be required. The marketplace determines which skill sets are valuable and how much they’re worth.
Your job is to develop patience with yourself until. Until when? Until you’re a master.
Will it take 10 failed tries? Maybe 200 failed tries? Will it take two weeks? Ten years? No one knows. But you can do this. Believe in yourself. Be kind to yourself.
Taking time to invest in your skills and talents will lead to new relationships, new opportunities. But it will be tough. You’ve gotta want it. You’ve gotta want it bad.
And you’ve got to have the patience to take it all the way, no matter how long it takes.