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4 Levels of Competency: Why You Need to Know About Them

Have you ever wondered to yourself if you are doing something the right way? How about wondering if you look like an idiot while doing something?

Well, there are four levels of competency and they are seriously crucial to know about if you want to enhance your learning process. By the end of this post, you will know about all 4 levels, and why exactly it is so important to know about all of them.


Something you need to know before we start is this; to be competent is to have skill, experience, knowledge, etc, on a specific task.

While on the contrary, being incompetent is the exact opposite, not having skills, experience, or knowledge on something.


So now that you know what being competent and incompetent actually is, we can get into the four real levels of competency, and how they are going to make you conscious of your learning.





Level 1: Unconsciously Incompetent


This is the very first level, or stage, of competency. This stage is one of the most difficult, because you are unaware of your incompetence.

For example, this could be someone thinking they are skilled at cooking, but in reality they are awful.

This level is a very difficult stage to pass for one simple reason, stubbornness. Humans, by nature, are stubborn. We don’t want to be told we are doing it wrong, and we always think that our way is the right way.


So how should someone go about becoming conscious about their incompetence? Well, you need to question every skill you may think you have.

Do you think you are good at singing? How about driving? Or even in your work life?

From there, think about if you are truly skilled in those activities. I’m definitely not trying to say you aren’t skilled in anything, and I hope you are skilled at many things you do. But often times, we overlook one or two things just to avoid the realization we are not as skilled as we wish to be in something. Or even worse, we know we aren’t skilled but just suppress it to avoid that realization of our incompetence within our lives.

You need to be open about realizing you might not be as skilled as you might think, and from there you will be on level two of competence, and that is all about being consciously incompetent.



Level 2: Consciously Incompetent

Once you realize that you are incompetent in something (literally anything), you have passed one of the most difficult levels of competency.

From there, you now need to find out what exactly you need to learn and work on. Whether it be becoming an expert rather than just a novice in something, or simply learning how to do a certain task the right way.

You need to embrace your novice and unexperienced skills, realize that you aren’t where you need to be, and from there you can now learn and improve on it.


Being conscious of being incompetent is huge because if you never become conscious of something, you will be blind to the world you live in for as long as you live.

Now go, learn, and once you finally do you will be on the next level of competence!


Level 3: Consciously Competent

So, you’ve learned everything you need to do you say? Well, congrats! You have went from being unconscious about your incompetence, to being conscious about your competence!

Doesn’t it feel great to finally be able to do what you use to do, but the right way this time?


I know, I didn’t go over the actually learning process. But there is a good reason for that, and it is this; this isn’t a post about how to learn. These are just the 4 levels of competence, and later on in the post I’m going to go over why exactly knowing about these levels / stages is so important to even be able to learn better and quicker in the first place.


You would think that this would be the last stage right? Nope! There is one more, and this final stage is what we typically consider where the ‘professionals’ are in any specified field.



Level 4: Unconsciously Competent

You are unconscious again! But this time, you are unconscious about your competence. Everything you’ve learned, experienced, and mastered, is just second nature to you now.

Once you reach this level, the final one, you do everything the right way without even thinking about it.

Previously in the level 3 of competency, you knew how to do things right but you had to think about it. You had to remind and ask yourself, this is right, right?


Although now my friend, you are what we consider the professional. The experienced, wise, or whatever else you wish to name yourself.



But, why does all of this matter anyways? Who cares in the long wrong about these 4 levels of competence?

Well, keep on reading and I will surely explain! 🙂




Why This Matters


If you’ve skipped to this part of the post without actually reading the 4 different levels of competency, I highly recommend you read them first! It will seriously help you understand what I am going to be talking about in the next few paragraphs.

Now I’m going to explain to you why it matters to even know about all of these ‘levels’ and how they are going to improve the way you learn and move on up in life.


First of all, instead of thinking of them as ‘levels of competency’ you could think of them as the ‘levels of learning.’

From the first level to the last, this is all of the natural learning process. We become aware, we learn, and then we master it. That just about sums all of the levels up in one short sentence.


The main reason I think everyone should know about these 4 stages is this; it truly does speed up your learning process.

Yes! You heard me right, now that you know of these stages you should be expecting to learn at a much faster pace.


Why is that though? How can you learn faster just by knowing these 4 levels of competence?

The reason is because we all follow this ‘learning process’ our entire lives, even if you never realized it. For example, consider you are dancing one day and someone tells you that you are not really that good. You are now aware that you lack skills and start to work on it. And then overtime, you go through all the different stages of competency until you reach the last. This is a great example of how these stages play out ‘naturally.’


So, what if you could implement this more-so natural learning process into your daily life?

Think about it, you don’t have to wait to be told you are unskilled at something anymore. You can look at your current self and skills, at all of the things you do, and analyze if you truly have some skill or not in the things you do in your life.

Now you will be able to realize your incompetence within a specific task or area without waiting to figure it the ‘natural’ way. This way, you will be able to start working and improving on your skills sooner than if you were to let these levels of competency (or learning) occur naturally.


I want to make something very clear before the end of the post, you won’t be incompetent in everything you do. Most of us are highly skilled in many of the things we do, but not so much in other things. It could even be a little small task you’ve always overlooked and thought was being done the right way, when in reality is isn’t.

Better yet, next time you consciously realize you are doing something the ‘wrong way’ but you continue to do it, make a goal and plan to work on it and pass through all of these 4 levels. Make it a goal to become skilled, and stop brushing off any incompetence in your life.



Become the best you that you can be.

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