• Hebari

Unconscious Competence

With rope education we are always talking about competence, ego, getting students to slow down and focus on depth rather than breadth, don’t jump ahead yada yada and on it goes.

The thing about learning a skill is that it’s bloody boring, it starts out as exciting, the prospect of the wonders to be unlocked, the cool things we’ll be able to do soon, and that generates the enthusiasm that gets us started.

Then we hit a road block, something that doesn’t work as expected, maybe a knot won’t hold, maybe the tie falls apart, maybe our bottom tells us that something doesn’t feel right. Whatever, we stall and it’s frustrating.

At this point we all know what we are supposed to do, we are supposed to stop go back and work on things until we have it right and this is where we have a choice to do things well or poorly.

So here is the trick I teach my students, at the point where you feel you “have it”, rather than jump ahead see if you can do it while doing something else, talk to your model, watch television whatever, the point is when you can use the skill well while doing something else you have become “unconsciously competent”, unconscious competence is essentially the point where as kill has been moved down to your automation functions and it’s actually really cool to become aware of it as it happens.

Human beings actually can’t do many things concurrently using our conscious minds, basically we can do one thing well or two things poorly. So the reason we are able to multi-task at all is that we have amazing automation systems run by our subconscious mind.

A great example is watching a child learn to walk, what they are doing initially is using their conscious mind to try to walk, which is really hard, there are just so many things to think of, and you can actually see them jump between them, they get one thing working then they try to do something else and fall over. Then over time they train their automation systems and walking becomes easier and easier.

When we walk we have all the motor and balancing in automation, we also scan our surroundings and avoid obstacles automatically, we also have a light automated tactical system that plans and remaps out route for us and we only need to move that to conscious thought when a major change occurs.

Rope is the same, we start by getting the basic components into automation, then bigger patterns that a formed from the smaller components, then we are free to notice our model more, and our feel and flow can be moulded by that feedback and so on.

So the moral to this story is get in touch with your learning processes, start to feel the progression as less of a progression into boredom and more as a progression into automation that opens up new layers of awareness and ability and your learning experience will naturally become richer.


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