Just as each and every one of us had to learn to tie our shoelaces, no one was born knowing how to be a successful entrepreneur.

Every entrepreneur had to learn how to be effective at what he was trying to accomplish – and practice being effective until it became a habit.

I don’t talk about it much, but before I opened my chain of hypnosis centers, I traveled all over the world, learning from the best neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and hypnosis teachers. I was certified in NLP by Richard Bandler himself, the creator of NLP. I studied with Robert Dilts, Michael Hall, and every other big name out there.

I am telling you this because I want you to know that when I share something I know about learning new skills, you can pretty much bet it is based on a concept I was taught by a master.

Today, I want to share an NLP learning model with you. Once you understand the model, you can leverage it to establish new skills rapidly.

First, I’ll explain the model. Then, I’ll give you examples to make it easier to understand. And then, I’ll show you how to use it to make yourself more effective at any skill you’ve chosen to pursue.

The 4 Stages of Learning a New Skill

Stage 1. Unconscious Incompetence. This is when you don’t know how to do it, and you don’t even know that you don’t know.

Stage 2. Conscious Incompetence. This is when you know what you don’t know, and you begin to work on learning it.

Stage 3. Conscious Competence. This is when you know what you need to know – and you can do it. But it takes all of your concentration.

Stage 4. Unconscious Competence. This is when you can perform the skill without even thinking about it. It’s now a habit.

Okay. Now let me give you two examples of how this works.

Learning the alphabet…

Stage 1. When you were very young, you didn’t even know that there were 26 letters in the alphabet. You didn’t know what you didn’t know. Hence, you were unconsciously incompetent.

Stage 2. You learned that there was such a thing as an alphabet, and that it had 26 letters, but you didn’t know them all. You knew what you didn’t know. Hence, you were consciously incompetent.

Stage 3. You finally learned all the letters. So you knew what you needed to know. But in order to write a word, you had to really concentrate on each letter. Hence, you were consciously competent.

Stage 4. Now, you can write words without even thinking about it. Hence, you are unconsciously competent.

Just to make sure you really get it, let’s look at another example.

Driving a car…

Stage 1. There was a time when you had no idea of what was involved in driving a car. Hence, you were unconsciously incompetent.

Stage 2. You started to learn about driving. You read the book. Your parents explained what they were doing while they were driving. You asked questions and got answers. You gave it a try – with Mom or Dad in the car – and realized you still had a lot to learn. You were consciously incompetent.

Stage 3. After a lot of practice, you could drive. But you had to really concentrate on what you were doing. You were consciously competent.

Stage 4. By now, you’ve driven so much that it’s become automatic. You no longer have to think about what to do, you just do it. You are an unconsciously competent driver.

But… are you unconsciously competent at parallel parking?

Most people are not. They haven’t parallel parked enough. They are consciously competent at it – meaning they can parallel park. But first they have to turn down the radio, stop talking, and focus.

What all this has to do with the achievement of your goals…

The parallel parking example illustrates that when you are working on developing the skills you need to achieve your goals, simply being effective from time to time won’t help you fully establish the habit.

To become unconsciously competent at those skills, you must recognize which stage you are at – and then understand what you need to do to move to the next stage.

More than likely, there are still a few areas where you are unconsciously competent – things you simply don’t know you don’t know.

So your job right now is to become cognizant of what you need to know to achieve your main goal.

That will help you transition to Stage 2.

In Stage 2, you will start to learn what you need to know to be effective.

In Stage 3, you will apply your newfound knowledge. But you must do it consciously, consistently, and often.

Before long, you will pass on to Stage 4: unconscious competence. At that point, you will be effective by habit, performing the skills that ensure your success without even thinking about it.

[Ed. Note: Rich Schefren, founder of Strategic Profits, is offering a new course for struggling online entrepreneurs. It outlines the same strategies that his first 25 coaching clients used to bring in a total of $142 million in two years. And Rich used those strategies himself to bring in $7 million in sales at Strategic Profits – in just 18 months.

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