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When I first saw this on the web I thought, “Oh shit, I better not let my clients see this!”  Since then I’ve already referenced it in a couple sessions.  A few things about it stand out for me:

  • you don’t have to be stupid when you take a leap
  • you can test the waters, so to speak, before jumping (they might be frozen!)
  • the guy in the video is in pain but maybe has learned something about himself

Happy Halloween!

I was looking through some old notes from my coach training and came across something that feels relevant to me in many parts of my life.  Relevant in the sense that it’s good to remember that learning and changing (for myself and others) is a process.

The idea is that there are four fundamental stages in learning…and I’m saying in changing too because changing is learning a new behavior or way of being, right?  Anyway, these are the stages:

Step 1:  Unconscious incompetence.  You don’t even know that there is something you can’t do…ignorance is bliss!   Think of all the things that babies and small children learn.  I think it’s because they can stay in this step and not let their consciousness get in the way.  It’s like they get to skip steps 2 and 3, and move straight to step 4!

Step 2:  Conscious incompetence.  This is the really frustrating one, and the one where I suspect many of us (me included) stop.  This is where you become aware, sometimes painfully, that you can’t do something.  The feeling at this point is often that the “can’t” is an unchanging fact when really it’s just temporary (if you keep trying, that is).   I sometimes find myself making a mental list of all the things I don’t know and decide right then and there that it’s better turn around.

Step 3:  Conscious competence.  This is where is gets a bit easier, but you still have to work really hard.  You have control again!

Step 4:  Unconscious competence.  Finally flow!  This is a great place to be if you’re doing something you love.  It’s the point where you can play and experiment and follow your intuition.

For whatever reason, I find this information comforting.  My first instinct was to just think about all the ways that I’m in the conscious incompetence phase (many!), but I then considered where I have moved past that phase and surprise, surprise, I am very competent…consciously and unconsciously!  And nothing is static, not even these phases.  The minute I think I’ve reached unconscious competence in being a coach or parent or friend, something happens to remind me that, shit, I’m right back to conscious incompetence!

Good thing I’ve become consciously competent at reminding myself that everything changes and that flailing sometimes gives me broader competence in the end.

We all have it…choice.  And yet, I think we often forget we have it, or we don’t want to admit we have it, or we don’t feel like it’s real, or not having it protects us from taking chances, taking a stand.  We tell ourselves why we don’t have a choice, as though it’s something chiseled in stone.  But really, at every moment in our day we have choice.  Sometimes a choice doesn’t feel like a choice because we would never choose it.  But still, it’s a choice.

Where in your life do you believe you have no choice?  Is that really true?

Being backed into a corner, even of your own making, is stifling.  Embrace choice!

There’s so much we don’t know about each other.  Many of us hold our most precious selves in hiding.  In Barbara Kingsolver’s latest novel, La Lacuna, one of her characters tells another that the most interesting thing about someone is the thing you don’t know.  The statement struck me when I was reading, and I keep coming back to it.

I have been on a mission lately of trying to see those hidden parts of people.  Not by asking directly “What are you hiding,” but by listening carefully and following up on threads of information.   And, wow, there are dreams and talents and projects and desires that don’t often come to the surface.  But they are there.  I can feel them bristling below the surface, even when they are not spoken.

I also flipped the statement onto myself.  What am I hiding that is most interesting about me?  And why do I hide it?

My challenge to you, and to myself, is to make space to hear/see/taste/smell/touch the most interesting thing(s) about those around you.  And, then consider sharing those parts of yourself with others.

One of the annoying things about being a coach is that I more clearly see my own patterns of procrastination and avoidance.  I can see what I’m doing and I know how I would work with a client on this stuff.  I can’t lie to myself with excuses and rationalizations because I know they’re bullshit and that I have the choice to change my behavior.

The upside to this is that I have empathy for my clients, and other people in general, when they’re trying to change things in their lives.  It’s not easy but it is doable with the will and desire for change.

Maybe it’s time to schedule an appointment with myself!