The Four Stages Of Growth And The Trap They Create

This nugget is short, yet very powerful. I talk about the four stages of growth and the trap they create. 


Now, this nugget is really fun. They all are, but this one talks about the four stages of growth and the trap they create

  1. First, we have blissfully ignorant. We don’t even know that we don’t know something. 
  2. Suddenly we find out, whoops, I don’t know this. If it’s important enough to us, we learn it. 
  3. In the third stage, we’re still good teachers because we remember what we were taught and how we were taught it. 
  4. Then it comes to the fourth stage, at which point we’re subconsciously competent. That means we don’t even remember that we know it, except when there’s a trigger that pushes us to remember. This knowledge bubbles out of our subconscious minds and comes to us, and we save the day. Fabulous. The fourth stage is a trap because we can’t teach the knowledge in stage four.

Now, one of the cool things about teaching (in this case, about the four stages) is that I gain new insights all the time. Just today, it was pointed out to me by one of my amazing students that sometimes we bypass the third stage. He suggested that we subconsciously learn some things, and we never even were in stage three, where we consciously were aware of the knowledge we had.

Now that is intriguing! I think he is right. The knowledge in stage four, where we are subconsciously competent is the stage where we are really lousy teachers. In that stage, we think we tell people, “Ok, take step one and then two and then three and then four.” We think that’s how you will get the same result that we produce. 

It Should Be Easy, Right? 

No, because what we actually told them is to take step 2 and then 10 and then 15 and then 20. Except we don’t even realize we left out all of these other steps. That is the trap of the fourth stage of growth, which is subconscious competence.

By the way, Stage 4 is the very stage that a lot of the Brilliance Mining efforts that we undertake are aimed at; to capture knowledge that you do not even know you have.

I’m Curious

  • What is your guess: How much Stage 4 knowledge do you have?
  • Have you experienced situations where some knowledge you didn’t remember you have, came to the surface and helped someone?