Learning while you work

knowledge management

By Nkiru Uzoh

The workplace is a training ground. It would help a great deal if we remove the mindset of going to work simply to earn a living. Rather as you work, seek to learn; seek to acquire more skills and knowledge.

Can everyone learn at the same rate? Of course not. Personally I believe that this is where humility comes into play. You can only learn and improve yourself when you consider your own defects. When you acknowledge that you do not know everything.

In Psychology, the four stages of competence, or the conscious competence learning model, relates to the psychological states involved in the process of progressing from incompetence to competence in a skill.

The Four stages provide a model for learning. The theory suggests that individuals are initially unaware of how little they know, or unconscious of their incompetence. As they recognize their incompetence, they consciously acquire a skill, and then consciously use it. Eventually, the skill can be utilized without it being consciously thought through. The individual is said to have then acquired unconscious competence.

The four stages are therefore: The Unconscious Incompetence, Conscious Incompetence, Conscious Competence and Unconscious Competence. Notice that the Unconscious Incompetence precedes them all. Here the individual does not understand or know how to do something. He however does not know that there is a deficit. He/she must first recognise that there is incompetence, and the value of a new skill. When there is an awareness of incompetence or deficiency, he/she has thus moved to the second stage.

The second stage is the Conscious Incompetence. This is where the basis of humility lies. Humility can be defined in so many ways. It is the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance. It can also be defined as the quality by which a person considering his own defects, has a modest opinion of himself. In the workplace, humility is a virtue which can According to Rabindranath Tagore,“we come nearest to the great when we are great in humility’’. That is so apt. With humility comes a conscious incompetence and this is the root of development. You realise there is a deficiency; a gap and you seek to fill it. Naturally there will be mistakes and stumbles on the way. However, it is perfectly ok. It is like a child struggling to move from the crawling stage to the walking stage. He stumbles and falls occasionally right? Does that deter him? No. He persists until he becomes perfect. You know what follows next? The child, who could barely stand and walk, now runs without faltering.

While at work, consciously humble yourself. Realise that you do not know everything and there is so much room for improvement. Then go all out to fill this gap. Consider the mistakes as stepping ones; while consciously and steadily moving towards greatness.

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