You’re Not Failing, You’re Learning!

In one of my last posts I briefly touched on the concept of learning. So today I’d like to spend some time talking about why we give up when the going gets tough.

It’s all about learning.

Using a quill. Now THAT was a learning experience.
Using a quill. Now THAT was a learning experience.

Understanding the 4 stages of learning means that when you find yourself thinking….

Holy crap this is hard and I totally suck at it and I’ll never be good so I should give up.

You’ll stop yourself and say….

Oh wait, that’s just me in stage 2.

Cool right? Okay, let’s break it down.


Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetent – I suck but I don’t know that I suck.

Stage 2: Conscious Incompetent – I’m aware that I suck and frustrated like you wouldn’t believe.

Stage 3: Conscious Competent – Look at me! I’m doing it!

Stage 4: Unconscious Competent – Pfft I’m rocking this! Not even thinking about it anymore.

The place everyone wants to be right off the hop is either Stage 3 or 4. We want to be kicking butt at whatever it is. Stage 3 is like when you finally learn to ride a bike. You’re doing it but you still need to put some thought into it. Stage 4 is like brushing your teeth. You’ve nailed it!

So the trouble with learning is that you have to go through all the stages. You can’t skip them. Depending on the task you might move quickly – like brushing your teeth – or super slowly like understanding and being able to apply Quantum Physics.

Note: If you are some sort of genius well then this may not apply. Maybe Quantum Physics is like brushing your teeth. Awesome for you! Most of us aren’t geniuses, so I’ll go on.

If we understand these stages then it’s just that little bit easier to give ourselves a break when it comes to change. Change evokes learning. It’s usually quick and leaves us reeling because…

a)     We didn’t see it coming.

b)     If we did see it coming, but we thought we had more time to prepare.

Alas, change waits for no one. It often leaves a trail of destruction similar to a tornado. It’s kinda rude like that.

That doesn’t mean we should run and hide from it. Nope, it just means we need to have a better understanding of learning and how to apply this information.

And we’re back to learning!

The 4 stages apply to all things. Riding a bike, brushing your teeth, learning how to paint, write, draw, and play music. It’s endless! Every day is a lesson, it’s cliché but true. We take in information, we learn it, we do it well and eventually we do it without thought.

It’s getting from I suck at this to Oh that? It’s nothing! which can trip us up.

Stage 2 is where most people give up. It’s the stage full of nasty gremlins that whisper all those negative things in your ear. You know the ones. They have nothing but terrible things to say and boy do they say them LOUD.

I have some terribly heartbreaking examples of this in my personal life. I’ve fallen victim to Stage 2 gremlins waaaay too many times. But now that I understand the process and why I feel as I do, I’m less likely to pack it in early. Instead I coach myself through Stage 2 using affirmations or self-talk.

Examples such as:

  • It’s okay! You’re just learning, keep moving forward.
  • You can do this!
  • If you give up now, you’ll never be good /succeed at it.
  • Practice makes perfect, yo! (Yes I self talk like a gangsta.)


Whatever is meaningful to you, use it. Whatever keeps you focused on moving forward, say it. Say it out loud, write it on a sticky note and post the darn things everywhere! You’re just learning and learning is hard work so don’t give up! It’s so very rewarding. 🙂

Next week I’ll share some ways I keep myself focused and motivated when accomplishing goals. Stay tuned!

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3 responses to “You’re Not Failing, You’re Learning!”

  1. ginapoet Avatar

    Fun post. Great reminder . . . .

  2. […] You’re Not Failing, You’re Learning! […]

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