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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Five Levels of Excellence

According to the "Secrets of Greatness" summary article in Fortune Magazine:

"...excellence can't be reduced to some simplistic four-level hierarchy. It has five levels."

The framework they suggest is one variant of a model, a useful way to show how the brain works, popularized by the late psychologist Thomas Gordon some three decades ago.

"It shows the road to mastering a new skill - speaking a language, managing people, whatever - as a series of steps that get steeper. You can't move up by skipping steps. And most people don't reach the top."

1. Unconscious Incompetence. The lowest level, Unconscious Incompetence, is a comfortable place. You think you know everything - and you can't hear the answers to questions you haven't even thought to ask. You can linger here forever.

2. Conscious Incompetence. Now you're motivated to improve. It's here that you learn the various steps of a particular task.

3. Conscious Competence. You've learned a particular task, but only with great mental effort.

4. Unconscious Excellence. It takes time to attain level four, Unconscious Excellence, where you're no longer thinking. You just do.

5. Conscious Excellence. At this rarefied place, you use your conscious mind to deconstruct and modulate the elements of your performance. This also means you can explain it to others - something that level four achievers cannot do.

BOTTOMLINE: "That's the thing about thinking: Your mind is your ally, if it can stay out of the way. "Visualize," the sports psychologists say."

Be the Ball - and let the excellence begin.

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