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Lifetime Learning Process

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A commitment to continual growth

I believe that continuous learning is an essential life skill. So today, I want to share a concept I learned, first during a high school assembly and later in a presentation by Alan Weiss. It’s called “Doubling Down.”

Doubling Down: The 1% Growth Solution:

Improve by 1% a day, every day and in 70 days you’re twice as good.

In finance, compound interest is the addition of interest to the principal sum of a loan or deposit.

In other words, you earn interest on interest. You earn interest on your initial savings (or the principal amount you deposited or invested). Over time, the interest you earn also begins to earn interest.

Albert Einstein described compound interest as “the eighth wonder of the world.” He said, “He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.”

The same principle applies to self-improvement. If you improve by 1% per day, in 70 days you’ll be twice as good!

What are you going to do TODAY to start improving by 1%?

The Adult Learning Sequence

Today, let’s talk about the concept of self-awareness and how self-awareness is the first step in controlling our own growth and ultimately, our destiny.

Thoughts become actions, actions become habits, habits become our character, and our character becomes our destiny.

James Hunter, The Servant

We must learn to actively look at what we do and how we do it and ask the question, “How can I improve?”

Our behaviors and thinking skills become ingrained to the point where we don’t analyze or examine them.

Sequence of Competencies

Stage 1: Unconscious and Unskilled
Unconscious Incompetence

Think about tying your shoelace.

My mother would often tell this story of me. When I was 4 years old, I couldn’t tie my shoe. I didn’t even know it should be tied: This is unconscious incompetency. In this stage, we are unaware of an alternate behavior or skill and oblivious to it.

What has to happen before we can move to the next stage?

It’s self-awareness.

Self-awareness is required for learning. Without awareness, we are stuck in unconscious incompetency.

Eventually, I realized I couldn’t go out to play with my friends until I got my shoes on and tied them. I became self-aware and moved to the next stage – learning to tie my shoes.

How do we get from unconscious incompetency to conscious incompetency? How do we change or improve or develop new habits? How do we improve by 1% if we don’t even know what we don’t know?

We learn through awareness created through outside stimulus: attending workshops, reading books, watching videos, or observing and learning from others.

Stage 2: Conscious and Unskilled
Conscious Incompetency

In this stage, we become aware of new behavior but have not yet developed the skill.

My mother told me that if I wanted to go out and play with my friends, my shoes had to be tied. But I didn’t know how to tie my shoes: conscious incompetency

Eventually, I became aware that something was missing in my life — an important skill — that I needed to learn if I wanted to go outside and play with my friends. I could wait for my mother to tie my shoes, but then my friends would be out there having fun without me! NOT GOOD!

And so I learned.

It’s the same in business – sometimes the thought of applying and practicing these principles is awkward, or feels unnatural or even a little intimidating.

But if you stick with it, you will progress to the next stage.

Ah, awareness!

Stage 3: Conscious & Skilled
Conscious Competency

This is the stage where we are becoming more and more skilled and comfortable with the new behavior or skill.

This is where I learned how to tie the shoe by concentrating on looping one lace, pulling the other through, and so forth: conscious competency

I was getting the hang of it at this stage. I could tie my shoe if I concentrated and focused on every step, so I got it just right. In the beginning, I had to start over many times before I got it right. But eventually, I learned.

Once we become aware of a deficiency, we have to work on the new skill before we can move from conscious incompetency to conscious competency. We must practice.

What is the final evolution in developing a new skill or habit?

Stage 4: Conscious & Skilled
Unconscious Competency

This is the stage when you don’t have to think about it anymore.

In this stage, I could actually tie my shoes while thinking about where in the world I left my bike, or my roller skates, or my stickball and broomstick.

FINALLY, I HAD ARRIVED! I could tie my shoes without thinking about it: unconscious competency.


If you want to go from unconscious incompetence (UI) to conscious incompetence (CI), you must become aware.

In order to move from conscious incompetence (CI) to conscious competence (CC), you must work on building your skills.

To get from conscious competence (CC) to unconscious competence (UC), you must apply the skill through practice.

Adult Learning Process

Stage One: Unconscious & Unskilled
Unconscious Incompetence

I don’t know what I don’t know.
Requires awareness.

Stage Two: Conscious & Unskilled
Conscious Incompetence

I’m aware of my lack of skill and concerned about the deficiency.
Requires skill building

Stage Three: Conscious & Skilled
Conscious Competence

I become better at a skill set but I must constantly think about it when I’m doing it in order to accomplish the task.

Requires application and practice

Stage Four: Unconscious & Skilled
Unconscious Competence

I can perform the task extremely well without thinking about it at all.



In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear said, “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous. It is only when looking back two, five, or perhaps ten years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones become strikingly apparent.”

Motivation is about taking that first step — just getting excited about something is enough to get started.

Then it’s about focusing on enjoying what you’re doing, right now, instead of worrying about how you’re going to get to a destination.

Forget about your past failures or at least the part of them that discourages you.

Take away a lesson about what obstacles stand in your way, and leave behind any bad feelings. Those are in the past.

Focus on right now, and how much you’re enjoying what you’re doing.

This week, I challenge you to live with awareness.

Think about what you are going to do to improve by 1% per day so that in 70 days you become twice as good.

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