Every time we learn something new, there is a certain pattern that occurs: the learning cycle

  1. Unconsciously incompetent : You don’t know what you don’t know yet. In this phase you have no emotions or thoughts linked to the thing you are about to learn, because you do not know that you do not know it yet.
  2. Consciously incompetent: Now you know what you don’t know. Now emotions emerge, mostly “negative” emotions as frustration, insecurity, anxious, but one also can be curious and driven.
  3. Consciously competent: You are aware of what you now know. Emotions linked to this phase are mostly happy, one can be proud, relieved, excited, confident, etc.
  4. Unconsciously competent: It has become a habit. As in the beginning phase, there are no more thoughts or emotions left.



Image from the Personal Leadership Course at TU Delft, given by Glenn Weisz from Canitiem. 

These four steps simulate a rise in awareness, followed by a drop in awareness. However one should thrive to never reach the last phase, you want to keep learning something new everyday. Never stop learning.

One could say there is a final phase then: Reflective unconscious competence where you come aware of and reflect on your own habits. The awareness stays, by observing your own behaviour.

For questions on the learning cycle or my experience you can contact me at hsdgve@gmail.com or leave a comment below.


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