As a tango instructor, one reaction I hear regularly in the dance class between students is one of comparison. It goes along those lines: “I’ll never be as good as so-and-so” “I don’t have the talent” “I don’t have the right body type”.

That kind of talk sets somebody up for failure before they even start, or they will stop shortly after they do start. It’s a mentality of comparison, which will steal any joy possibly available in the process. Competency isn’t a matter of time, talent or physical ability, it’s all about determination and awareness. I see examples, and I’m sure there are many to be found, of individuals that had no time, talent or education, doing better than those who did possess all those things. Would you like to know how competent you are? Start with awareness!

There are four levels of competency: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence and unconscious competence. This is a very different way to look at our achievements compared to good, bad, better or worse,  which are comparative and in my opinion, very counterproductive. I invite you the be the best version of yourself at anything you’d like, without comparing your achievement to others. You can be your own competition and achieve a great deal while experiencing joy and fulfillment, not limitations or belittlement.

Unconscious incompetence is the stage when one doesn’t know that they don’t know, it’s complete oblivion about productivity. One will think they’re productive but the result proves otherwise. There is no awareness at that stage.

Conscious competence is knowing we’re not as productive as we’d like, and that the results are not what we’re looking for. That’s where awareness starts. It can also be a frustrating period as one realizes that things need to happen a certain way and that it’s not happening yet. Patience at that stage is key. I invite you to be kind to yourself, it’s already an accomplishment to be at that stage!

Conscious competence is being aware of what’s productive and one knows it’s being done. That’s a satisfying stage as one starts seeing some positive results and feeling more in control. That’s a more grounding phase, and the fun has just started!

Unconscious competence is the mastery of a skill. It’s happening and one doesn’t even have to think about it! The cycle is complete. The behavior is habitual and incorporated in a natural way. This is very productive and soothing. It’s also just the beginning: one will know that they can apply that process to anything they set their mind to!

I mentioned it in the past and I’ll mention it again: we live in a culture of shame and blame. Comparing ourselves to others reinforces that. My work involves stepping away from that mentality so we can find joy and satisfaction in our growth process.

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Reach for the greatest version of yourself!



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