Today, I want to talk about the phases of competency as they relate to being a parent and being a kid. This is something that I realized is important to my children, for them to learn, not only as they develop and acquire skill. It's important for me as an adult and as a parent, and it's something that I wish that my parents had taught to me.

Summary and Quotes

episode 8 - stages of competence

[00:00:45] – skill vs behavior
[00:04:56] – Phases of competency
– unconsciously incompetent
– consciously incompetent
– consciously competent
– unconsciously competent
[00:14:30] – The goal is not always unconscious competence
[00:17:15] – Adapting to change, skill of the future
[00:18:29] – Go with the flow but pay attention


Quotes from the Episode
“Behavior is more of a choice, whereas a skill is something that you either have or you don't have.” [00:02:53]

“The checklist actually forces conscious competence where a muscle memory and unconscious competence takeover.” [00:13:50]

“We're fallible. it's important for us to double-check ourselves. [00:14:39]


Transcript continues below

I wanted to go into a little bit more detail here with this because parenting is part skill and part behavior. And so to go back and give a little review of that, an example, a great example of a skill, meaning something that you either know how to do or you don't know how to do, there is no way you can believe yourself or will yourself into a skill. A great example of this is if you don't know how to swim, somebody Rose you out in a boat.

Three, 400 yards offshore and throws you in the water, then you either possess the skill of swimming or you do not. No amount of belief or willpower is going to enable you to swim back to shore. If you don't possess that skill and you get out in the water the same way up, even better. Wait an example well, let's say that you are dropped off in the middle of a country where you don't speak the language.

No amount of belief or willpower or positive self talk is going to enable you to magically get the skill. Oh, speaking whatever language that is something that you learn. It's something that can be measured. It's something that can be tested. Now, behaviors on the other hand are something that you can choose in a situational environment.

So I can have a behavior of going to the gym on a daily basis or not. That's something that I can change. I can have a behavior of speaking with someone in a particular manner or not. I can choose the tone of my voice. I can choose how I'm engaging with someone. A great example of this is, let's say that you are in the car and you're having an argument with someone on the telephone and all of a sudden a police officer thumbs up to your window, knocks on your window, and.

You don't know what they're about to ask you, but you may all of a sudden change your tone when you're speaking with the police officer versus the more, shall we say, enthusiastic conversation that you were having the telephone. Now, you may do that or you may not do that. My point is, is that that would be an example of a behavior versus, there are some people who can't do that.

There are some people who if they are angry, then no matter who comes up to that window, they're going to yell at them just the same. So what I'm saying is the behavior is more of a choice, whereas a skill is something that you either have or you don't have. So let's talk about the phases of competency then, because this is going to help us really to understand where we are as adults, where our kids are, and also give our kids.

A better understanding of how they can be more of a, more of a player take more of an active role in their life and in the skills that they choose to develop. And also how they're going to choose which skills need to be developed in which skills they don't need to really, or they're going to choose, they're going to decide you cut off and not really pay any attention to.

So, for example. I've made the decision in my life that I'm probably not going to become a concert pianist, so I'm not going to invest a lot of time learning that skill because it does not benefit me and where I'm going with my life. I've literally made the decision to cut that out. That's perfectly fine.

But understanding what skills someone should pursue versus what skills someone should decide to cut off. Is also a very, very valuable. And so with that being said, let's go through the phases of competency that we face. Whenever we are learning a new skill or whenever we are put in a situation where we realize that we need to learn a new skill.

These phases of competency are seen everywhere. They're seen at. The hospital. When a nurse goes to start an IV, they're seen out in the field. As police officers go and conduct an investigation, they're seen as a phys ed teacher tries to conduct a certain exercise in PE class and they're even seen on a sales call or when someone is doing an interview to hire a new employee for there where their company.

The first phase of competency is referred to as being unconsciously incompetent. This is the point in time where the person literally does not know what they don't know. They're unaware that there are things that they need to be aware of in order to be successful at whatever skill it is that they're pursuing.

Whenever we take on a course of instruction, for instance, to be an EMT or a nurse or a police officer, or, or, or a phys ed teacher, oftentimes this is lined out for us so that it helps to ease us into that role and into that skill so that we maintain our level of unconsciously incompetent.

Behavior for as short a time as possible. But where are this manifests and where you've seen it before? Oftentimes with hilarious results, clips on the internet of people trying to repeat athletic feats. So for example, we might see someone try to do a back flip on the beach because they just saw somebody else do it and it looked really easy to them.

And of course, the person. Goes out. Maybe he says, Hey, hold my beer, and he gives his buddy his beer and we see the first person who is skilled at the activity, do the back flip. Then the second person, Ooh, is not skilled at the activity, goes out, tries to do the back flip, and of course bales spectacularly.

that person at that very point in time that their face is now in the sand realizes that they are consciously incompetent. Meaning they just had a blinding flash of realization that, Hey, there's more to this than I realized, and I don't know what that is. So they come to that realization. As I said, when we take a training course, oftentimes we are given a gradual ramp to ease that learning curve, but sometimes people realize very rapidly that they don't know how to handle that situation.

They become. Consciously conscious of their incompetence very, very quickly. Another great example of this is driving on ice. If you did not grow up in an area where the roads I Stover and then you move to an area where there's snow and ice, you might get a very rude awakening. if you wake up one winter morning and realize that the roads are iced over and they don't respond how they've responded for it, however, you've driven for however long.

And there's not much you can do other than get that training and get that experience. Because if you haven't had that, then there's no amount of belief that is going to get you just steer through that, read that, that turn where the car is not responding as you expect it to. There is a choice that has to be made at precisely this point and that choice.

When a person realizes that. They are consciously incompetent. They become aware of their lack of skill. They don't have to make a choice. Did they want to put in the work and the effort to gain skill in that area or are they going to try and hide the fact that they lack skill in that area? This is where there is a real danger and this is where a lot of Mmm people in, for instance, in, in law enforcement, in medicine.

Pilots, even parents make decisions that have longterm negative consequences because what happens? What happens? Let's say you're a police officer and you're going to the range your technique is not that good. Or maybe you have some safety violations that, yeah, you can qualify, but. potentially going to present a hazard down the road.

Well, you can either bring those deficiencies out into the light and work on them and have your, your colleagues help you with that training, or you can try and hide it. Well, you can try and sweep it under the rug and hope that it never comes up again. But of course, generally speaking. What will happen is not only will it come up again, but it will come up at the least opportune time and then people will be counting on you.

You utilize that skill in a very skillful manner and it won't be there. This is the decision point really that separates people who Excel. From people who just get by or, or let's face it, are dangerous. So what happens when someone is, becomes aware of the fact that they are consciously incompetent, they're faced with that decision.

They can either hide their lack of skill, they can disengage from the activity and find a new, a new skill that they want to pursue, potentially a new career path, which is fine as well. Or they can say, I want to work on this and this is something that I want to invest time in. This is something that I want to engage in purposeful practice, and this is something that I want to master, but they don't just become a master overnight the first time that they do it, when they're practicing, they are what is referred to as consciously.

I'm Putin. What that means is they have to think about the steps that are involved in doing what it is that they need to do. So for example, the first time that you parallel parked a car, probably had to think about it a little bit. Now, if you live in the city and you parallel park a car on a daily basis, it's probably not something that you really have to think about it at all.

But at the time it was something that you have to think about a lot. Same thing with that EMT starting in Ivy. I guarantee you the first time that they're working on there, their friend, there's also practicing for the same test to start that Ivy. They are thinking about every single step. They are conscious of there competence.

There have to think about every single step. what happens is after many, many cycles and after doing this in many different environments, at first we'll use the example of the of. Driving, ah, the first time you got behind the wheel, you're thinking about every turn. You're thinking about every, every stop sign, every, lane change.

And then after a time your body does it. Your brain performs the actions, and you might not have even been conscious of what you were doing, but you executed the turn perfectly. Likewise. That nurse or EMT started that Ivy with no problem at all. remember starting the Ivy, I remember finishing the Ivy, but the steps in between, even though they may have called them out for policy and for procedure, it was done unconsciously.

Because they were at that level of skill, they had elevated themselves to that level of skill. And that is of course, the next level of competence, unconsciously competent. That means that they can perform or execute the skill without having to think through every step. And that is really the goal of where we want to be with our skills and with our parenting.

Now I want to give the caveat to this. When pilots are evaluated or for insurance or just for, in terms of studies that have been done on, on aircraft pilots, the pilots that are the most dangerous or the most likely have some sort of accident are not actually the novices and they're not actually . Folks who've been flying for tens of thousands of hours there.

The pilots have just Ross the line being consciously competent to unconsciously competent. Because what happens is is those pilots have been very, very strict. Everything in aviation is done with the checklist. And so what happens is, is as those pilots build skill and they build confidence, the first thing that they might be tempted to let go of.

Is that checklist. And so the checklist actually forces conscious competence where a muscle memory and unconscious competence takeover. And so what happens, interestingly enough, is around a certain hour Mark, and I forget what our market is, I think it's like a 150 hour Mark of, of flying experience.

People are tempted to not use that checklist as much because they feel it is committed to muscle memory, and that's where accidents starts to start to happen. So I just wanted to point out that the goal is not always unconscious competence. That's a great place to be, but sometimes it's great to check ourselves as well to make sure that, especially in a very high risk situation . We're doing things right, because after all, we're human.

We're fallible. it's important for us to to double check ourselves. Now, this is where paradigms come in as well. Now, in previous goes, we've talked about how we have default conditioning and part of our cultural conditioning in many, many times is to defer to the senior person to defer to authority.

And so this is another interesting example in Japan, specifically, the captain of the craft was at one point in time, never questioned ever that was it. His word was gospel, word of God. what was happening was there were junior true, might have recognized some anomaly or some. Deviation that was going to be dangerous.

But because it was not acknowledged by the captain, it was their cultural conditioning to not say anything about it. And so they, they actually had some fatalities that resulted as a, as a result of that. And so there had to be a cultural change of sort of, regardless of what your position is, if you're part of his aircrew and you see something.

That is going to cause us harm. You speak up about it. it's important I think, to bring that to the forefront here as parents because we're not trying to find a perfect system and I think our kids know this. We're not perfect. We're trying to find something better that works better for the time being that works better for the time and place and world that we live in right now.

And also focuses on where the, where the world is going. Because we do a really good job of looking past and then saying, Oh, well, it's always going to be like this. Where I think we have a big challenge and a lot of difficulty is looking where we are now. Looking at the past and then saying, even though it's very challenging to, I believe that this is going to change.

Things are going to be different in the future and at the skillsets of basically what got us the skill sets that got us to where we are now. Well not necessarily be the skill sets and behaviors that will equate with success in the future and being able the change and adapt to that change may actually be the skill of the future.

Being able to learn something. Realize if it applies to the situation and then if it no longer applies to the situation, unlearn it potentially, or adapt, modify it, learn something new that does. And so that is really the challenge that we've been going through with, with our kids and our parenting style is realizing that there have been a lot of artifacts, of how we were brought up.

That are no longer benefiting us today and have actually become a liability in terms of . We'll just say loyalty to longterm employment that no longer exists or maybe hasn't existed for a while, or maybe even was a facade. you could even potentially choose to look at it that way, that it's, it's never been there.

but it's been a very. Very solid looking facade that never actually existed. So that's something that we really focus on with our kids is, yes, go along with the flow, but pay attention, pay really close attention because things may change really quickly. And your ability to adapt to that is going to be maybe the most valuable skill that we can.

We can teach them as parents. So that's what this episode is about. The phases of competence. Do you have any questions? Please let me know and we'll see you in the next show.

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For better or worse, kids repeat the parenting patterns they experienced as children. We explain the parenting decisions we made and their intended outcomes to equip our children with an understanding of their default behaviors so they can better navigate the world and find success in life…


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