Blog Article

Mastering a New Skill

Let’s face it, understanding a skill isn’t the same as mastering it.  For example, there are plenty of fans who understand football, but most lack the skills needed to win on a football field.  People who master a skill always go through six identifiable stages — the theoretical stage (understanding) and the practical stage (which leads to mastery).

LEVEL 1: Theoretical Understanding

Stage 1: Unawareness

You are completely unaware that there is a skill to be learned. Example, a novice sales rep might be making cold calls without realizing that her accent is making it difficult for customers to understand what she’s saying.

Stage 2: Awareness

You realize that something isn’t working. Example, that novice rep may notice that her hit rate on the cold-calls is much lower than the other people working in that office.  She asks colleagues and her sales manager for suggestions.

Stage 3: Clarification

You understand what you need to do differently. Example, that novice sales rep signs up for a class that will improve her diction and make it more understandable to the target customer base.

LEVEL 2: Practice until Mastery

Stage 4: Awkwardness

You attempt the new behaviour and find it difficult. Example, the novice attempts to apply the skills learned in the class and speak without the debilitating accent.  She finds it’s hard and exhausting to hold a conversation without slipping into her old accent.

Stage 5: Familiarity

The new behaviour is easier but still not automatic. Example, the novice finds that she can now hold a conversation in the new accent without fumbling or falling into the old accent.  Practicing the new skill is no longer a burden.

Stage 6: Mastery

You no longer think about the behaviour but simply do it. Example, the novice now finds that talking in the new accent seems as natural than the old accent.  Her brain has been reprogrammed so that the new behaviour no longer needs monitoring or specific practice sessions.  It’s now like “riding a bike” - a lifelong skill that you’ll never forget.

So, that’s how your mind works when it set out to master a skill.


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