Want to Learn Something? Find a "Near-Peer."
I’ve always appreciated the four stages of learning (as outlined below), which offer a powerful guide to move our learning outcomes from freak-out to flow.
- First, you’re “unconsciously incompetent.” You don’t know what you don’t know, and you may think what you’re learning is easier than it is.
- Secondly, you become “consciously incompetent” such that you realize that you need to work at this to get better. This moment of inadequacy is when many of us quit.
- Thirdly, you become “consciously competent” as your focus on learning and improving (due to your growth mindset) begins to pay off.
- Finally, you find your flow by being “unconsciously competent,” as there’s less striving and more thriving.
So many of us think that our mentor or teacher is supposed to be a master from this fourth category, but often, that master may have lost track of what was necessary to move from stage 1 to 2 or stage 2 to 3.
Once you’ve identified which stage you’re in, maybe you’re better off looking for a “near-peer,” someone who is just one stage ahead of you. For example, I learned more about surfing in my early days of trying the sport from those who’d only been doing it for a year or two than I did from the long-time surfers. The “near-peers” knew exactly what I was going through, and they were able to offer me some helpful neophyte tips.
Find your "near-peers," as that is where the gold is.