The 4 Stages of Learning and Neurodiversity Coaching

The 4 Stages of Learning:

Level 1: Unconscious Incompetent
“I don’t know what I don’t know.”
This person is unaware that there is a need for skill development.

Level 2: Conscious Incompetent
“I now know about it, but I’m not very good at it.”
This person is aware of the need for skill as well as their inability to perform it well.”

Level 3: Conscious Competent
“I know how, but I need to think about it and concentrate on what I have to do.”
This person knows how to perform a skill, but requires focused thought to do so.

Level 4: Unconscious Competent
“I know and I can do it effortlessly.”
This person performs the skill well, without focused thought. They can also train others.

Link to printable PDF

One of the cornerstones of my coaching process is working with the stages of learning. While it is part of all life coaching, I have found that when it comes to coaching adults with ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety, and autism referencing and using the stages of learning is key to faster success and greater positive outcomes.

The start of coaching is knowing that you don’t know something that could make a change in your life.

When it comes to neuro-difference coaching, often the person reaching out for coaching knows they don’t know a bunch of stuff, because they have tried so many other things around routines, scheduling, habits, organizing, spelling, etc. They have read books, taken classes, and attended workshops. With most of this information, they leave level one and start to enter level two and then it all just falls to heck. Here is the critical part, because of past experiences, typically back in elementary school, with not being able to get to levels three and four without it being a huge struggle, different thinkers will give up at this point. The pain of going further feels futile and they just don’t have the energy, unless they can be hyper-focused on it. And keeping an organized clean room might not excite most people enough to hyper-focus on it.

Often to move forward I need to help clients understand WHY they were not able to get into level 2. That is why being specialized in ADHD, dyslexia, and autism makes such a difference. I need to help them connect their neurology and style of thinking to why past attempts have failed. This is the first big breakthrough in coaching with me. Clients understand what they didn’t know. It is so much fun to watch their faces, just light up with awareness. This look is kind of like a kid with a giant candy bar of chocolate.

Now that I have them at step one, we start to map out some desires for what they would like to learn next. If they don’t already know how to discern the difference between a useful thought and a sabotaging thought, that is the next training we add to the 4 stages of learning.
While going through this process they are learning more about their learning style, their neurology, and the fact that so much of how they do things is actually common in the different thinker community.

Let me paint you a picture of what that might look like.

Imagine a smart woman who works for a large business firm. She gets a new boss, and that boss likes to have walking meetings and to auditorily delegate. While they are in these walking meetings, her boss is giving her the list of things they need her to be working on. This is the story of a client who came to me when she had been placed on PIP (performance improvement program). One of the items in the PIP was that she wasn’t getting all the projects done that the boss was delegating to her.

We start working together, I figure out her strengths and weaknesses and she starts on the discernment program and I quickly realize that her weakest way of retaining information is via audio alone. She has maybe a 25% retention rate. No wonder the situation with her boss was an issue. She really wasn’t remembering what they were telling her. All of the management before this had sent her emails or they had used software where she could track her projects. Her current boss was not open to changing her style, my client had asked. So, we tested ways to work with her boss’s style. In the end, a Livescribe pen and notebook were used any time she was around her boss. It recorded the conversation and connected it to her notes, so she could access the details her boss had mentioned far too quickly for anyone to have been able to take notes from. The PIP went away as she showed immense improvement.

Stage 1 – she didn’t know what to do once put on a PIP. It brought back all kinds of childhood trauma, shame, blame, guilt, and fear.

Stage 2- she figured out that her style and her boss’s style of communication were way off.

Stage 3- she started trying out tools and had to really think about what to do and when to do it.

Stage 4- she found the right tool, used it daily, and now doesn’t even think about grabbing her pen and notebook every time she leaves her desk.

Highly successful people with dyslexia and ADHD naturally and intuitively know the 4 Stages of Learning. They know when they are learning something new or want to learn something new that they will have to go through these stages. They know they will have struggles at times, but they don’t give up and they know when getting to level three is enough and when they need to take something to level four. I have watched them do it and I have watched clients of mine learn to do this with the 4 stages of learning.

What is something you want to learn more about or that you struggling with and need to find out what you know you don’t know?
Why not start today?

Celebrate the wins. If you don’t who will?

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