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The first stage is called "Unconscious incompetence". What this means is that at first you are not aware of what you don't know. Aristotle said: The more you know, the more you realize you don't know. Before you start working on a skill, you need to become conscious of your lack of ability and recognize how that affects you.
The next stage is called "Conscious incompetence". You are still incompetent, but at least you are conscious of it. It might not seem like a lot of progress, but this stage is really important. At this stage, you understand the importance of the skill. You make a lot of mistakes and need to keep practicing in order to improve.
As you keep practicing you start getting better. This stage is called "Conscious competence". At this stage, you can demonstrate the skill, but that takes a lot of focus. For example, if you just started playing a video game, and don't know the controls pretty well, you will need to focus a lot of your attention on the controls, which will impact your ability to play the game. You might know what each button does, but you will still need to think about which one to press - it won't be automatic.
However, over time, you will become so good that the newly learned skill will become effortless. Execution will become automatic. Think of tying your shoes. You can do it, while talking to somebody or thinking about what you need to do later that day. This is the final stage, called "Unconscious competence".
How can you use this to your advantage?
Gather as much information about what you need to learn as early as possible. Also, realize that it's perfectly OK not to know something. Even the greatest were once beginners.
To get to conscious competence quickly, you need to find out what works and what doesn't. The best way to do this is to do a lot of research and maybe get someone with enough experience to mentor you. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
To get to the final stage, you need to spend a lot of time practicing. Doing the activity over and over is what causes it to become automatic. It takes a lot of practice to become natural.
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