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Unconscious Incompetence

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

After a 6 month grueling bootcamp in Web Development, completing a few on the side freelance projects, it's time for Bob to start looking for a full time web development job. His finances are starting to run a little low, and he decides he better get his act into gear.

He's excited, nervous and uncertain. After browsing through the applicable jobs in web development he comes across a few entries. Almost all of them have "React" listed as one of the core requirements for the job. From Bob's experience and bootcamp, he has read about it in passing, but never spent too much time looking into it. Now he is interested, and decides to start researching React in detail...

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In a previous post How to Master Your Craft we looked at the four stages of Mastery. The first stage of Mastery, Unconscious Incompetence is the beginning for everyone.

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.

Lets dive in.

The Dunning Kruger Effect

The little information that Bob knows about React is that it is based on Javascript. "Woop" Bob grins as he thinks about the possibilities of applying to the job. Bob aced the Javascript part of his bootcamp, "I've got this in the bag" he thinks.

Without any more hesitation, Bob adjusts his CV and sends it out. Confident that he can work on any Javascript projects with ease. Now that the ball is moving, he starts looking at some React project tutorials online.

HTML, CSS, Javascript...

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Horror of Horrors!

Bob continued down the page as he browsed the React Fundamentals section of a website.

  1. Asynchronous JavaScript
  2. Object Orientation
  3. React Hooks
  4. Event Handling
  5. API's
  6. REST and GraphQL
  7. Tailwind ... and the list goes on.

The bias of overestimating your abilities is called... The Dunning Kruger Effect. Bob thought his experience with Web Development and Javascript in his bootcamp would be enough for him to pick up React in a cinch. But as he slowly discovers its more complicated than that.

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The Graveyard of Ideas

We all are guilty of thinking that our abilities are capable of taking on accomplishing more than it can in reality.

This is the graveyard of failed projects, businesses and plans that we commit to, only to find out that we underestimated what was required.

So how can we move up the competence scale?

The first stage is knowing that we are in the Unconscious Incompetence stage. Once we understand that this is bigger than we thought, we can now start to take action to move into the Conscious Incompetence stage.

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Moving to Conscious Incompetence

Bob is now transitioning into the Conscious Incompetence stage, stage two of four. Keep following these posts for more information on the different stages.


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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