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Cover image for How to Master your Craft

How to Master your Craft

Dave Sev
IT programmer in Life Insurance. Billing. Bank Statements. Moving towards coaching IT Professionals through burnout and career planning.
・3 min read

Have you ever seen a Gordon Ramsey at work? Watching a Master at the top of his game is truly a sight to see.

Think about the last time you saw someone who was able to work at a Master level. Did you ever wonder how they got there?

In this second installment of learning a skill, we look at the four stages mind learns things on its way to Mastery.

In case you're interested...

If you are looking for guidance in career development, I help IT developers create their dream jobs through self discovery, career planning and how to make the best out of your job. Contact me if you would like to discuss further.

Four stages of learning

This model was developed in the 70's by Noel Burch, which highlights the two main factors of the learning process:

  • Competence : The ability level of the person

  • Consciousness : The amount of concentration and attention required to perform the task by the person

Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetence : What's That?

At this stage, you do not know what there is to know. The proficiency may require two weeks, two months or two years - but you have no idea.

You don't know, what you don't know.

Capture

Here a kid is being instructed about guitars. He can't play, but he's excited!

This stage requires observation to learn what can be done to do things.

Here you need to learn what you need to learn and gather information about what is required. You must recognize where you are VS where you need to be.

It's like being a kid, wanting to drive a car. You have no idea what's involved. You don't know about gears, indicators and breaks. It's exciting but you wouldn't even be able to start the car.

Stage 2: Conscious Incompetence : I suppose I'll need to learn that!

You now know what is missing, and you have an idea of what you need. You are unable to do what needs to be done, but you understand that you are lacking in those skills.

Capture

Here our young guitar player is learning about the guitar. He can't play anything properly, he makes many mistakes and needs guidance and help.

You understand the value of the skills that can address the lack, but are unable to perform them.

This is the most frustrating stage. It's here that you feel I just can't do it!

This is where people give up. It's too hard.

You need to take a leap and keep telling yourself I can do it!

Stage 3: Conscious Competence : It takes me a while, but I can do it!

You have the skills, this is where you can accomplish the task yourself. Remember your driver's test? You thought about everything you did. It takes lots of effort and great concentration.

Capture

The student guitar player is not able to play songs by himself. He still has to concentrate carefully and check to make sure his chords are correct and he is playing correctly. If he loses his concentration everything will fall apart.

But he can hold his own, even if it takes a lot of effort.

You have finally made it, more or less.

Stage 4: Unconscious Competence : Mastery

The final stage is when you don't even need to think about what you are doing.

Capture

Our guitarist is now a master. He can pick up the guitar and play without even thinking. He can hold a conversation with you while he is playing. It has become second nature to him, the muscle memory is ingrained in him.

This is what makes a master.

Getting there

In order to get to level of Mastery, levels of understanding had to be accomplished through each of the four stages. There is no skipping and no shortcuts, no matter who you are you have to go through the same hoops.

You might have a good tutor and tools to speed you along the way, but it requires tremendous efforts, overcoming challenges, pitfalls and disappointments.

How has your experience been in your journey towards mastery?


In case you're interested...

If you are looking for guidance in career development, I help IT developers create their dream jobs through self discovery, career planning and how to make the best out of your job. Contact me if you would like to discuss further.

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