Friday, January 25, 2008

The Four Stages of Competence

Everyone heard of this? The four stages of competence. Conscious and Competence

I'll give you the gist, but if you want to learn more, click the link, above.

There are four stages of competence.

Stage 1. Unconsciously incompetent -- you really don't know what you don't know.
Stage 2. Consciously incompetent -- you really do know how much you don't know.
Stage 3. Consciously competent -- you know stuff, but you have to really think about it to act on it correctly.
Stage 4. Unconsciously competent -- you know stuff and you no longer have to think about it. You just do it.

I think about this concept a lot. It applies to so many things in life. From skating, to swimming, to cooking, to training.

Training is what I was thinking about today.

I remember back to when I started to lift weights. I knew nothing. I was afraid to go into the weight room. I actually did the first stage of TAP (Testosterone Advantage Plan) on the machines on the main floor of the gym so I wouldn't have to be embarrassed in the weight room.

I moved on to Turbulence Training and a lot of Chad Waterbury's workouts. Eventually, I felt confident enough to make up my own workouts (using tools and other workouts to check my work).

Suddenly, I was just writing my own workouts and doing fine. Of course, I thought about it, but I didn't stress over it. The workouts were fine.

Then, you read something or hear something and it's like a curtain drops and something hidden has been revealed. You don't really know. You just thought you did. You were cruising along, happily living in Stage 4 (Unconsciously Competent) and all of the sudden you realize how little you know, yet didn't know it.

By the way, there's no single huge revelation or epiphany here. Just some little ones. Don't stick around for the end, hoping for drama. It's not coming.

Here are some little ones, as far as training and nutrition goes.

1. From Ross Enamait, I learned that intensity trumps a lot of things. Should have already known, since I've bought into the importance of intervals and giving your lifting your all, but Ross made it clear. Not by preaching, but by his simple plans and actions. He might as well be intensity.

2. Coach Hale posted at JP's that he'd never seen someone not lose weight on 8-12 calories a day, per pound of body weight. This was in the middle of a nit-picky period of discussion, where we all over thought nutrition and worried about the most trivial little aspects. Not that those things might not be important, but in the end, when you're not losing fat, look at the elephant in the room, first.

3. From Lou Schuler, I learned (or was once again reminded) of all the things that I've learned and acted on, then somehow unlearned and forgot. The importance of reading, reading, reading can't be overemphasized. Sure, the book jacked might look like stuff you know, but are you really sure you know it? Maybe you knew it once. Keep reading.

4. Chad Waterbury reminded me of all the things that I'd once learned from Turbulence Training.

5. Zach Even-Esh reminds me that not every workout needs to be planned out and detailed, as long as you have an overall plan and strategy. Do you have to progress on every lift, every workout? Do you even have to wonder or worry? No. Milestone lifts and exercises are enough to know if you are progressing, overall. Have some fun and relax with a sandbag, sled, or rocks in your backyard. Your weekly squat day is for knowing if you're getting stronger. Just know that your sandbags are "getting lighter," even if you can't feel it. To lamely paraphrase that guy in that baseball movie. Get stronger and your other lifts will progress.

Many people think that they start off in Stage 1, but for one thing, Stage 1 is a time of overall obliviousness. It's unconscious, remember? When I meekly walked into the gym with my copy of TAP, I was solidly in Stage 2. I knew exactly how much I didn't know. Because I knew squat.

I'm realizing that training is not one thing, popping through all these stages. Different aspects are at different stages at all times. So, strangely, I'm now consciously competent in knowing how little about training I actually know. There are areas where I'm in Stage 1, 2, 3, and 4. At all times. We all are.

Lesson? Listen to people smarter (or wiser) than you. Like Alwyn Cosgrove says... No one gets dumber from reading a book. He might say it better, though. and, he'll sound pretty cool saying it.

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