How to Advance to the Next Stage of Competency | Southwestern Coaching

Identifying where you are in the four stages of competency is an important part of personal and professional development. But the ultimate goal is to take effective steps forward, moving closer to making habits or skills second nature.

It’s time to reach the next level!

Once you’ve identified what stage you’re in, you can follow these tips to progress:

“Unconscious Incompetent”: Be Willing to Be Impacted

At this stage, you don’t even know about the skills, habits, or behaviors you need to develop. But that’s not an excuse to sit around waiting for revelation! Seek it out through self-awareness. Be honest about where you are in your personal and professional life. You can also “graduate” from this stage of competence by surrounding yourself with people who can sharpen your focus.

“Conscious Incompetent”: Set Yourself Up for Success

Now you’re aware of a skill, habit, or behavior you’d like to develop. But what’s next?

You need to set yourself up for success.

Conscious incompetence is the “ideation” or “strategy” phase of improvement. Be proactive in laying this foundation. To go from planning to the next stage – acting out your plans – create a goal card or vision worksheet. Use these tools to put what you want to be (and what it takes to achieve it) in writing.

“Conscious Competent”: Take Action

At this stage, you’re consciously, deliberately practicing whatever it is you want to develop. If you’ve created a goal card or vision worksheet, you’re now waking up every day and proactively doing what you need to achieve change.

For example, if your goal is to be a better active listener, whenever someone speaks, you pause and think: “Okay–time to practice active listening.” Whatever skill you’re working on, it’s not yet intuitive or natural.

Going from this stage to the next is about mindfulness. Commit to being realistic with your goals, and commit to taking action. Also, focus on repetition. Practice is the only way to advance to the final stage: unconscious competence.

Own Your Stage of Competence

You’ll have no problem finding an excuse for stagnating, regardless of which stage of competence you’re in. If you’re truly interested in growth and want to move from one level to the next, fight the impulse to rationalize. To keep taking positive steps forward, you can:

  • Learn more about the four stages of competence to pinpoint where you are in your personal or professional development.
  • Be honest with yourself, and be receptive to feedback. If you’re not yet in the final stage of competence, you may fall back into old habits. That’s okay! Until those new skills become second nature, there will be times you miss the mark. The important thing is to not settle for “good enough” on the road to greatness.

For more on personal development, contact us for a free consultation on how 1:1 coaching can help. If you’d like to book a free workshop for your team, learn more here.