Jordan Belfort talks about 4 levels of learning whenever we want to gain a new skill.
- Unconscious Incompetent (let’s call it I don’t know I know sh*t)
This is the first level of anything. When we start to learn something, we have no idea how much we don’t know. It’s like learning to play football while watching TV (and thinking that you could score 10 goals in half an hour…it’s not that hard, right?).
- Conscious Incompetent (or I now realize how much sh*t I don’t know)
This is when you touch that ball a few times and it goes in the opposite direction. You realize how much you have to learn to be good at it, whatever that “it” is. In my opinion, this level is the toughest because here we decide if we’re going to continue or we’re going to quit.
- Conscious Competent (I’m getting good at this sh*t)
You know how to hit the ball and when so it will get wherever you want. All you have to do is to focus. You got this!
- Unconscious Competent (I’m born for this sh*t)
This is the desired level. You can do with that ball whatever you want with your eyes closed. You don’t need to think about it anymore. It’s part of you.
The only way to level up from 1 to 4 is through practice. This is how it happens from a brain’s point of view: whenever you want to learn something, you’re focusing on that. Whatever you see, hear, feel, taste, smell are activating certain brain cells. So if you want to kick the ball, you’ll look at it, you’re going to position yourself in a certain way for a better kick and so on and the brain cells responsible will get activated.
Joe Dispenza talks about the fact that the brain cells activated together will tend to interconnect (Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind, 2007). Based on this, the more you train about kicking that ball, the more your brain cells will get activated together and they will slowly form circuits. Those circuits are like a road. The more circulated that road is, the stronger it become (it goes from an empty field, to a country road and eventually to a highway). The stronger that circuit gets, the higher the chances are for it to be activated again. It’s easier to take the highway compared to a country road or an empty field, right?
This applies to anything. That’s how a habit is formed. And that’s why it’s so hard for an old habit to be broken, but it can be done with lots of will, effort and time.
What are you learning and at what level are you?