Which are you: Conscious or unconscious?

Jim Blasingame

Many years ago, I was introduced to the four levels of performance consciousness; it was a defining professional moment.

This kind of consciousness isn’t about being awake; it’s about being aware of why you’re successful or not. Here are the four levels of consciousness.

1.  Unconscious Incompetent. This person doesn’t know that he doesn’t know. Also called a “Don’t know, squared” – or DK2 – this person not only doesn’t know he’s incapable, he doesn’t even suspect anything.

Before you say, “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” it’s important to note that everyone is a DK2 sometimes. The challenge is to not live your life that way because DK2 is a terminal professional condition.

If you’re saying, “Oh Great One, stop me before I DK2 again,” don’t fret; we’ll get to that.

2. Unconscious Competent. This individual lurches uncontrollably to success without knowing how or why. 

Sometimes we call an Unconscious Competent gifted, or lucky. Those of us who work hard for everything we get call them annoying. But don’t be quick to envy this person because not knowing how you got where you are is part of the definition of lost. And any resulting success is likely not repeatable.

3. Conscious Incompetent. This person is incapable and knows it.  If you’re looking for an employee to train, this is an amorphous block of disciple clay waiting for you, the master sculptor. But remember, Conscious Incompetence should be a temporary condition on the way to Level 4.

4. Conscious Competent. This person gets the job done and knows why. She can identify what happened when she’s successful but, more importantly, is aware of what happened when she fails.

How do you become a Conscious Competent? Through self-analysis. Self-analysis allows us to see what we do well and capitalize on it, or recognize and evaluate what we don’t do well and either eliminate or minimize it.

Self-analysis is not easy; sometimes it even stings our ego.  Ego obstructs self-analysis by telling us that any success we have is because we’re so smart, while assuring us that failures couldn’t be our fault.

Successful self-analysis is part of a conscious plan for professional improvement. Practicing self-analysis, Conscious Competents discover the enduring benefits of being honest with themselves about their own performance.

Write this on a rock... If professional excellence were a mountain, Conscious Competence would be its peak.

 Jim Blasingame, Creator/Host of The Small Business Advocate Show
©2010 Small Business Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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