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The Four Levels of Learning: Un-Four-gettable once you know them...

To begin, we are always growing and developing in one form or another throughout our lifetime, through all the experiences we have and encounter. If we can understand that each experience within us or outside of us, at any given time, is an opportunity to learn and grow, we can develop more of what is referred to as, a growth mindset, which allows us to be open to gather even more information, to grow and learn, and move through what are called, the four levels of learning. The four levels of learning are defined to give reference to our individual learning and skill development as well as to have benchmarks as to where we are now.

In emphasis, whenever we are developing a new skill, acquiring more knowledge, and/or starting a new activity, we go through the four levels of learning. The four levels of learning are present across all disciplines and understandings and are available to us as a resource if we are aware enough to realize and utilize them. It is valuable to have understanding of each level as well as how to recognize which level of learning we may be experiencing at any given time, seeing as we experience the different levels of learning throughout our lifetime.

CPowell Sports Psychology and Coaching services offers proven, effective methods and applications of principles and practices of sports psychology and coaching to assist individuals and professionals in discovering and recognizing the levels of learning in their respective field(s) and area(s) of their life, as well as how to continue to effectively move through them to their desired level of mastery.

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In continuation, we experience one or multiple levels of learning at different moments and in several disciplines at any given time. In other words, we may be at one level of learning in one area of our life and a completely different level of learning in another realm of our life. All levels offer insight into our respective selves and our own development. Let’s take a look at the four levels of learning.

The first level of learning is, unconscious incompetence, which can be defined as, we don’t know what we don’t know. A few examples to illustrate unconscious incompetence: When we first ride a bicycle, read a book for the first time, or we are at a point in our life where we want to change something, or we want to set a goal for ourselves, but we don’t know what to do or how to start. In other words, unconscious incompetence is when we don’t know where, or even why, to begin applying ourselves in any given situation or activity.

To continue, when we first get on a bicycle, we don’t know where our sense of balance is, we don’t know how we are supposed to apply pressure on the pedals to take the bike in motion, and/or how to coordinate that balance and motion. When we first learn to read, we don’t even know what the words mean on the page and we have no reference for identifying the words. If we are at a point in our life where we want to change something, we don’t know where to even begin. CPowell Sports Psychology and Coaching services offers innovative, proven methods to recognize any areas of unconscious incompetence and how to move through to the next levels.

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The second level of learning is conscious incompetence- we now know what we don’t know. Simply stated, we become aware of what we don’t know in order to do our desired activity, which puts us in a position to start to develop the necessary skills or knowledge to know what we want or need to know to do what we want to do. Further, if we want to change something, about ourselves, in our work, and/or in our relationships, we now have more clarity to know what it is we want to change or what goal we have in mind for ourselves.

Further, in the level of conscious incompetence we may now be clearer on what we need to know or don’t know, but we still don’t know and are unclear on how to move forward with what we need to do in order to get what we want. This is the place where most people exist, because they are either unaware of what they truly want at the core, and/or they don’t know where to start in order to get what they want. CPowell Sports Psychology and Coaching services offer effective strategies, for assisting individuals and professionals in identifying the levels of learning in any given field(s) and area(s), personally and/or professionally, as well as how to move through them in order for individuals to live more fulfilling lives.

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The Third level of learning is conscious competence- we now know what we know and what we don’t know. We now have clarity in what we want and what to do in order to get us what we want. Further, we now know how to ask for what we want and need in order to get what we want. We are in a position to develop our necessary skills, as well as to how to access and utilize resources to get us closer to what we want, whether it be a skill, personal or professional change, and/or goal.


Further, it is important to note, we can get bored at this level, which can derail us from reaching mastery. When we reach the level of conscious competence, our changes, skill development, and/or personal shifts become less evident. The support from others is particularly beneficial at this learning level because it can keep us on track to our own respective mastery.


The Fourth level of learning is unconscious competence- we now know what we know, and we are at the level of mastery. We know what we know, and we are also aware that there is always room to grow. We master whatever we have been seeking, whether it’s a skill we were developing, a new sport we wanted to master, a goal we wanted to reach, and/or the quality of relationship(s) we want.

Further, when we become unconsciously competent, we don’t have to think about what we are doing in order to achieve what we want. It has become automatic. In reference to a previous post, mastery is accompanied by the concept, automaticity-where we don’t have to think about what we are doing. We instinctively can respond instantaneously with informed experience in any given situation, and if we are ever unclear and/or make mistakes, we recognize that they are learning opportunities to acquire more knowledge and experience, to become an even better master.

The four levels of learning are present throughout the lifetime and in all areas of our lives. They can show up in multiple ways at multiple levels throughout any given experience. We can actively move through them with more ease with awareness and conscious effort. CPowell Sports Psychology and Coaching services offers proven, effective methods to recognize and develop the tools to navigate the levels of learning with more ease and clarity, so individuals and professionals can move to whatever level of development they aspire to be, in their own respective fields. Check them out and see what they have to offer:

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