Experience v Mastery

Someone’s CV or business profile may say, for example, that they have “20 years experience”.  After 20 years you would expect them to have gained mastery, or at a minimum competency, in that field.  But perhaps they have repeated one year of experience 20 times?

The four stages of competency

There are generally four stages as we gain any new skill:

  1. Unconscious incompetence – you are not aware that you are incompetent
  2. Conscious incompetence – you are aware that you are incompetent
  3. Conscious competence – if you focus you can handle the task competently
  4. Unconscious competence – you can do the task competently without conscious focus.

It is at stage 4, being unconsciously competent, that we graduate towards mastery. Mastering a skill or craft requires that we go deep, not shallow.

Gaining mastery

So, how do we become masters at our craft? There is generally a 7-step process:

  1. Learn from the best teacher, mentor or coach
  2. Practice with a focus on developing good techniques
  3. Work on your craft and the core skills required
  4. Listen to feedback
  5. Analyse your performance – what went well and how can you improve?
  6. Adapt and refine
  7. Repeat the above.

We don’t become masters of anything by chance.  It takes perseverance and specific intention to hone our skills and fine tune our craft.  Mastery is often illusive, tantalisingly out of reach.  Indeed, a true master can always find ways to improve his or her performance.

Rate yourself

If we own a SME we need to be competent in the technical work of the business, competent as a manager, and also as an entrepreneur.

Honestly rate yourself in each of those – are you unconsciously incompetent, consciously incompetent, consciously competent, or unconsciously competent?

Growth Requires a Plan

Unless you are growing and improving as a business person you are regressing.  Our knowledge, skills and thinking must progress as business and technology move relentlessly forward.  None of us can afford to be left behind or we will find ourselves obsolete, and eventually out of business.

Contact Q2 if you would like to have a conversation about what you can do to improve, grow and become more competent in areas where you may be lagging.

At the end of our business careers we don’t want to realise that we have the equivalent of one year of experience, repeated over and over…

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