How’s 2020 shaping up for you so far?
Are you focused and thriving, or just average and back in the ‘flow’ of being busy to be busy?
The reason I ask you these questions is that we’re stepping into week 3 of 2020, which has proven to be the turning point where the majority of the people fall back into their old patterns.
If you’re already feeling demotivated or starting to lose focus, then we both know that this year is going to be a clone of last year.
And trust me, even if you pride yourself on being a wise, woke, and capable human being, chances are you still occasionally fail to balance out your goals and expectations with your potential and time available.
This is why I spent my weekend writing this blogpost, clarifying the 3 common misconceptions that are sabotaging our ability to pursue our goals, along with a model that will help you to (re)align your goals and master your growth.
Aim within your zone of difficulty
Our brains are hard-wired to deal with challenges, however, we’re only able to preserve our ability to adapt and pursue, when we operate within our zone of difficulty.
However, as human doings, we tend to be slightly irrational and somewhat unaware, causing us to under or overestimate our ability to adapt.
This is worth paying attention to since it’s, most certainly, not the challenge that’s holding you back, but your blind spot and ego barriers in regards to the challenge in question.
These subconscious barriers can make you irrational and prevent you from seeing your circumstances — including yourself — accurately.
The problem becomes more serious when you apply your irrational thinking to your goal-setting, you risk pursuing goals that exceed your potential or vice-versa, leaping you to the outer edges of the spectrum of change.
Regardless of your intentions and willpower, operating outside of your zone of difficulty will either make you feel overwhelmed, stressed and incapable or bored, unfulfilled and easily distracted. Neither of them will help you grow beyond your current circumstances.
And even when you manage to balance out your potential, then chances are you’ll fall prey to the biggest misconception of all… You expect your growth to be linear.
It gets hard before it becomes easy
Whether you want to get healthier, increase your performance at work, stop using social media (so much), or grow your business, any form of change requires you to grow through the 4 stages of competence.
- The unconscious incompetence
- The conscious incompetence
- The conscious competence
- The unconscious competence
The 4 stages of competence is a theory designed by Noel Burch, which relates to the psychological states involved to grow from the unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence in a skill.
Understanding in which stage you are and what’s ahead of you empowers you to avoid getting hijacked by your irrational thinking and the overdose of daily distractions.
For those willing to embrace the 4 stages of competence, the transformative state of the unconscious competence is available to all.
If it’s available to all, then why do I get stuck?
Well, even though Mr Burch’s theory is rock solid, in reality, it occurs that the majority of the people gain a better understanding of the process but still fail to preserve their ability to adapt and pursue.
What I’ve found, through coaching hundreds of high impact individuals, is that people get stuck in certain stages, mainly because their perspective of ‘reality’ is biased by what they believe to be true about themselves and their circumstances.
This irrational behaviour is also known as confirmation bias, which relates to the tendency to process information by seeking, interpreting, or recalling information that confirms the existing beliefs.
For example, one of my clients, who is a very capable and aspiring entrepreneur, believed that without being control of every decision and task, the quality of their service would collapse and their clients would be disappointed and eventually leave.
In his approach, he focused most of his attention on seeking evidence, such as tiny operational mistakes or signals of customer dissatisfaction, to confirm and strengthen his existing belief, while ignoring the actual results.
Based on his perspective of reality, he believed he could not grow the company any further, without the mental torture of being control of everything.
His goals and actions became a reflection of what he believed to be true, which turned his irrational thinking into a so-called, self-fulfilling prophecy.
This is just one of the many examples, and it’s also why I’ve created the Potential versus Challenge Matrix, to help my clients to reveal the (hard) truth about themselves and their current situation, so they can (re)align their goals with what they’re truly capable of.
The backbone of this model is based on the 4 stages of competence, but rather than only focusing on awareness and skills I added the relationship between one’s potential and the challenge in question.
Understanding in which box you are (stuck), helps you to become more rational and aware, enabling you to grow beyond your current abilities.
Let’s find out what this means for you.
A: The aggravation box
People in the aggravation box tend to find themselves in the ‘unconscious incompetence’ stage, meaning they are unaware of their incompetence.
However, what makes them ‘aggravated’ is that they tend to throw themselves in scenarios that outpace their ability to adapt.
They have overestimated their current abilities (ego barrier) or underestimated the challenge in question. It’s an uncomfortable place to be in and the majority of the people tend to run out of will and resourcefulness to pursue their goal.
When you find yourself in the aggravation box, I recommend you to take a step back and to reaccess your own capabilities and the challenge in question.
Maybe your goal doesn’t align with your current abilities, maybe it’s in conflict with your values, or maybe you just need to chuck down your goals into realistic milestones.
Just keep in mind that growth happens when you stretch and align, not when you overextend.
B: The awareness box
People in the awareness box find themselves in the ‘conscious incompetence’ stage, which means that they start to become aware of their incompetence in regards to the challenge in question.
Gaining awareness is the first step and most important step towards change, however, this box comes with a risky downside.
When people grow from the unconscious incompetence to the conscious incompetence stage, they tend to feel confident and empowered, they now understand what was holding them back.
However, these feelings are usually of short duration when they fail to take action upon their awareness. In fact, being aware but not taking action hardwires the belief on why you can’t have what you want to have.
This behaviour is often caused by a lack of resourcefulness, believing they need to ‘know or have more’’ in order to grow beyond your current abilities. (If you haven’t heard of resourcefulness yet, it’s your ability to overcome challenges and setbacks).
When you find yourself (stuck) in the awareness box, the first thing you want to focus on is revealing massive clarity, so you know exactly where you want to go, how you’re going to get there and what capabilities you must develop.
Once you’ve gained clarity, it’s a matter of taking consistent and (not or) progressive action, which will require you to take full responsibility and to embrace your vulnerability.
Rather than becoming fixated on the outcome, focus your time and attention on building systems that empower you to narrow down your focus on small and achievable steps, assigned to dedicated time blocks in your calendar (eat the frog first), so you can start building momentum.
If you’ve tried all this, but you’re still talking yourself out of opportunities, postponing important decisions or convincing yourself of all sorts of stories why you can’t have what you want. Then you got work to do.
Get a coach, it will be the best investment you’ve ever made.
C: The adaption box
People in the adaption box find themselves growing into the ‘conscious competence’ stage, they are slowly learning, but their competence is only accessible through using their conscious awareness.
What differentiates these people from the people in the awareness box, is that they have taken (back) the responsibility and are consistently implementing behaviours/skills that are of just manageable difficulty.
Through trial and error, they slowly start to rewire their brain, mapping new neuronal connections. The only way to accelerate your growth is by increasing the rate at which you perform your desired behaviour/skill. It is the frequency (not time) that makes the difference!
A process that requires discipline, patience and dedication.
The downside here is that people can often feel discouraged, this is because they are putting in weeks or sometimes months of efforts without experiencing the immediate results. This is why the adaption box is known as the valley of disappointment.
So, if you’re growing through the adoption box, then take a moment to celebrate yourself. The majority of the people are just pretending they are changing but the brutal truth is they do not. So good on you!
I recommend you to systematically reward yourself. As silly as it sounds, it’s a method that works and is called positive reinforcement.
Not only will you encourage your desired behaviour, but you will also make it more likely (and easier) to repeat the behaviour and so to achieve your next level of growth.
Furthermore, be mindful of who you let influence you. Be open to learning, but STOP letting those who are not you, those not living the life you crave guide you in any way. Instead, seek influence from people who have repeatedly and successfully accomplished the challenge in question.
D: The automation box
People in the automation box find themselves growing from the ‘conscious competence’ into the transformative ‘unconscious competence’ stage, which means that they start to master the desired behaviour/skill.
Rather than having to use their conscious awareness, they can perform their desired behaviour/skill on ‘auto-pilot’ and because of this, they have created the mental capacity to focus to face their next challenge.
If you’ve mastered your growth, then take a moment to give thanks. I’ve learned that life becomes a lot more meaningful when you start to give thanks for the people, things and accomplishments in your life.
Gratitude is the best attitude!
I hope this blog post helped you to gain clarity and to reveal the next steps on your journey of self-improvement.
PS: For those who feel stuck and willing to the work, I’m offering three 2hour strategy sessions with a discount of €75,-, in which we’ll map out specifically how to grow beyond your barriers.
Note: This discount is only available to members of my inclusive Facebook group Personal Mastery with Jord Cuiper. So if you haven’t joined yet, feel free to become a member!
If you have any questions in regards to this article, feel free to reach out to me. Furthermore, I’m just a guy sharing his perspective based on my own experiences, along with the studies and work of believable professionals in the industry. I fully expect that I have made a mistake somewhere in this article, in referencing an idea or tool to the wrong person or not at all. I’ve no intention of taking false credits, so if there’s anything not aligned regarding referencing, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org