I remember reading The Tao of Jeet Kune Do, by Bruce Lee years ago. In the book, he talked about how you had to practice a skill with an open mind in order to master the skill. When your mind is closed, believing that you already know the answer or enough of the answer that you don't have to learn anything new, you are unable to grow. To learn is to give up knowing long enough to know something new.
As we go through life, much of what we would like to accomplish seems fairly simple. We look at what others have accomplished and think, "if they can do it, I can do it." In this first stage of learning, we are unconsciously unskilled. We don't know what we don't know. It is amazing how many people get stuck at this stage and never grow past the idea of not knowing. When a person opens up to the idea that they might not know the answers, only then can they become consciously unskilled. This second stage of the learning process is critical for anyone to grow and become more successful. It isn't just what you don't know that will mess things up. It's what you do know that just isn't so that will often destroy your life. When we are consciously unskilled, we admit that we need to learn and this propels us forward. Stage three comes when we hire a coach, go back to school, get trained on the thing we want to be great at, and we practice, practice, practice. When I was 10 years old, we spent more than a month of martial arts class doing roundhouse kicks over a chair with each leg. We didn't do any other moves! We just did roundhouse kicks! After doing around 100 roundhouse kicks, I became consciously skilled. As long as I was thinking about the way I lifted my leg, turned my hips, and extended my foot while protecting my body, I could execute a great kick, but I had to think through the whole thing to do it right. After thousands of kicks, I could execute a perfect roundhouse without thinking, which put me at stage four in the learning process. I was now unconsciously skilled. This is the level of mastery, where an open mind is just as, if not more important.
In business and in life, just like in sports, we must be open to the learning or we will reach our peak too quickly. After earning my black belt, my instructor talked about how I was now ready to truly learn. I remember thinking about how often people forget that they have something else to learn and get stuck in "good enough" as a result. That is still so true today. Be open to learning at every stage. Listen to the masters around you and be willing to change your perspective as well as your strategy in order to grow. Do this and you will pass through the four stages of learning and find your success!
Quick View of the Stages...
Stage 1: Unconsciously Unskilled
Stage 2: Consciously Unskilled
Stage 3: Consciously Skilled
Stage 4: Unconsciously Skilled