The Five Levels of Skill Development

Recognition of where you are in your skill development can go a long way toward making your progress sustainable.

We often see people succeeding at the highest levels and wonder how they got there, or what they were like when they started. Whether it be our fitness, profession, or hobby, the bottom line is that we all start from the bottom with zero experience. The bigger question is, “How do you become a master?”

A person’s beliefs and behavior will always control their results. However, most people don’t see things that way. They have a goal and think they deserve it just because they want it. Believe it or not, hard work is the easy part. Most people aren’t lazy. A lot of people can put in the work in their craft to be somewhat successful.

A big reason why most people quit too soon or stop chasing their desired fitness or business goals is that they do not know what step they are in on their progression from novice to master. It is critical to know where you are in the process to properly assess yourself. Below I’ll outline these phases.

Unconscious Incompetence

This is just like it sounds: we do not know how bad we are. We go to the gym on our first day, and don’t really know how far we are from our fitness goals. Or in a business, we don’t know how bad we stink at it. This is where everyone starts who has ever mastered anything. You cannot avoid it; it’s the beginning.

Conscious Incompetence

This means we now know that we don’t have the necessary skills to be successful at our new endeavor. Our mind is working overtime to learn new skills and mechanics. It could be learning how to run properly, or learning how to run a business that we just started. We now know we are beginners and are putting in an exorbitant amount of time to get good at it. We are still not proficient and are very mechanical because our mind is working the whole time to learn a full new system as we are also doing it physically.

Conscious Competence

Most people quit on their fitness or business goals before they get here. Their fear of failure stops them from even getting through step two. But if we stick with it to here, we will have developed our skill, and gained confidence. We now know enough to do the task, but we do not know enough to do it unconsciously. We have developed the basics through tons of repetition. In the gym, you may now see body composition improve.

Unconscious Competence

We possess a high degree of confidence now. Our muscle memory and mechanics are completely fluid. At this stage, new instruction is minimal. Now you know how to and what to do.

Unconscious Mastery

There are now no mechanical thoughts. This is the zone. We all have been in the zone in something in our lives, whether it be fitness, career, sports, or studying for a tough exam. This is true mastery. You see the highest level of success in this domain.

If you want achieve mastery, first you must be conscious of where you’re at. If you want to progress to the top, the only way to do it is through repetition and practice. It’s taking 1,000 shots on the basketball court every week. It is making 100 phone calls a day, if you’re in sales or own your own business. It is going to the gym consistently for five years and eating right. It is having so much experience that you can operate on an unconscious level and get massive results. Only a true master can operate under intense pressure and have their positive results seem seamless.