cont… The second stage of change is called conscious incompetence or waking up. This is when we suddenly realize how much more there is for us to know. This is the single most important step to change – the broadening of our awareness. Fortunately, once we get to this stage, we seldom ever go back to the first one. It can sometimes be difficult for us to admit that perhaps there is a better way to do what we think we’ve been doing well all along. “New ways” require change and change is difficult because it takes effort. That’s why we sometimes simply dismiss them without ever trying them out for ourselves first. The “new way” poses such a threat that we’ll even attack the person sharing it with us. Einstein once said, “The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.” Socrates said something similar: “The only thing I know, is that I know nothing.” And as far as discounting a “new way” simply because we heard it first from someone who is less experienced or less effective than us, we’ll do well to remember the adage: “Wise men learn more from fools than fools ever learn from wise men!”

If we don’t fall victim to simply dismissing a “new way” when we first hear about it, then we are likely to move into the third stage of change: conscious competence or choosing change. This is where we struggle to master a new skill. This is usually the most awkward of the four stages because we feel the stiffness and strangeness of trying something new or different. This is also the stage where most children excel and where most adults fail. By “adult”, I mean anyone who has a fairly well formed definition of themselves and their perceived role in life. Also, adults have an intense need to defend those definitions. In general, a child does not think that falling down or making mistakes equals failure… they just keep trying and trying and trying until they get it. But for an adult, it’s not cool to fall down. It’s too embarrassing to look foolish, it’s too painful to fail. That’s why, for us adults, change is so hard and why we resist it so much. We’ll try something new once or twice and if we don’t meet with instant success, we start making excuses such as, “Yeah, that may work for him but it doesn’t work for me” or “I have special needs that no one else has” or “I gave it a fair try but I knew it wouldn’t work” or “Well, it just wasn’t me.” Instead, we need to follow the example of children. After each fall, we need to ask ourselves what we learned, what could we do differently to get a better result, and how quickly can we get back up and try it again. Take it from someone who personally knows: if you fail enough, it stops hurting! to be continued…

Patrick Gamboa -International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)