Learning or competence building is a cyclical process. All of us go through it and almost all of the time.
Where does it begin?
Let me explain using the example of ‘cycling’ as a competence. When we are born or in early childhood, we wouldn’t be aware that there is something like a ‘cycling competency’. This stage is called the unconscious incompetence, where there exists a competency and I am not aware of it either. Once we grow enough to see the world around us and learn more about it, we find people cycling around. That’s when we realize or become ‘conscious’ about the competency of cycling, however in this stage we are not having the competence yet to cycle ourselves. This stage is our conscious incompetence stage. Once we are through this stage and decide to acquire the necessary skill sets or know how we go about learning the process of cycling and start to do it ourselves. You might have felt or observed, we are however very conscious of the way we are holding the handlebars , the time to up-shift or downshift a gear and very tight in the way we ride our bicycle. This stage is what I call the conscious competence stage. Here we have the necessary competence but are tentative.
When we have done it over and over again for many days and months, it becomes part of our sub-conscious or natural. We just pick up our bicycle and start pedaling away as if it is an extension of our body. In this stage you are so conditioned to the act that you are not really conscious about the how, and might be thinking of several other things in your mind. You still take the right turn, avoid obstacles without really concentrating much. This stage is our unconscious competence.
Therefore its important to understand that when ever we take up a new skill or competence it goes through the whole cycle of learning up until it reaches the last stage. Mind you it is cyclical as well. Maybe after you see a circus artist perform some stunts on his bicycle, you will again reach a stage of conscious competence and then if you so decide go through the entire process once again.
I always therefore tell my students to not expect miracles at the end of a course. It takes time and the cycle of learning to reach a state of unconscious competence.
So keep pedaling !