Overcoming Frustration- The Four Stages of Learning

Overcoming frustration is difficult but manageable and doable. In fact if you are at the point of frustration you are most likely at stage two of the four stages of learning. Once you can successfully navigate all stages then you will remove the frustration and master whatever is beating you down. Let’s discuss…

Stage 1: Unconscious incompetence. You do not know what you do not know. Similar to how you cannot expect a baby to speak to you in German. Especially if the baby has American parents who only speak one language. The baby cannot speak German because he/she hasn’t been exposed to it.

Stage 2: Conscious incompetence. The parents learn German, teach the baby for 5 years how to say things like “Hallo” but baby still ain’t getting it. By 6 years old baby is aware that he/she isn’t picking it up. This is usually where people become frustrated and quit at this stage. But the reward of keeping with it is in the next part.

Stage 3: Conscious competence. Baby hits the lottery and says this thing ain’t beating me and gets a private German tutor. Baby also, decides to only speak in German words for the next 10 months (intense but the dedication is there). Finally after many hours and years baby can fluently speak German.

At this stage you are aware of your progress and continue to work, practice, get better, until you can become functional at your task. You see this all the time with new managers.

They come into an organization, have a shaky start, learn the system, learn the processes, implement standard work. Then suddenly a year or two later they can train new managers. But they had to reach some level of frustration first.

Stage 4: Unconscious competence. Baby is now 8 or 9 years old and is teaching a German speaking for dummies class. Baby has is down pact that often notes or lesson plans are not needed. This is the expert, autopilot level. This is the Serena Williams reflex level. This is the Michael Jordan shooting a free throw with his eyes closed level.

Overcoming frustration is a process where different types of learning have to occur before you can move forward.

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