Lessons from the Certifiers

Masterful Coaching and the Four Stages of Learning
by Natalie Tucker Miller, IAC-CC

Q: How would you relate coaching effectively with the Masteries to the Four Stages of Learning?

A: Here is my understanding of the Four Stages of Learning:

Unconscious incompetence – not knowing that you don't know something
Conscious incompetence – knowing that you don't know
Conscious competence – knowing how to do something but still needing to be consciously aware of each step
Unconscious competence – knowledge is so internalized that you automatically incorporate it into action

A: At first glance, it would seem that achieving mastery in anything would fall under the category of unconscious competence, described as having had so much practice with a skill that it has become "second nature" and can be performed easily. The craft is mastered; the techniques have become automatic. Certainly, this explains how a masterful coach easily and effortlessly flows with the client to achieve powerful results.

The four stages of learning, as they apply to coaching mastery, were explained to me in a coaching class many years ago as such:

When you are initially introduced to masterful coaching skills and concepts, a common response is "Of course! This makes so much sense, I’m doing this already," (unconscious incompetence). Once you begin practicing the skills, it may seem like the responses you are getting from clients don’t meet that original expectation and, in fact, mastery is more challenging to reach than you thought. "Oh man," you might say," I’ve never going to be able to do this. This is so much more involved than I’d realized," (conscious incompetence). Then, after practice and study and development (conscious competence) and the ability to integrate the concepts seamlessly, you're no longer focusing on what or how to coach. Your process is automatic, evidenced by measure and/or results (unconscious competence).

It is often at that point when you stop focusing on the skills and just coach. You aren’t thinking about which element of which Mastery might be present or absent, you simply flow with the client and witness the powerful results.

But as I said, this explanation was at first glance. (Members, continue reading here…)

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Natalie Tucker Miller, IAC-CC, is the Lead Certifier and a certifying examiner at the IAC, as well as Past-President. Natalie is founder of Ageless-Sages.com Publishing (www.ageless-sages.com), and creator of the literary genre, Picture Books for Elders™.


Please send your questions on the IAC Coaching Masteries® and the certification process to certification@certifiedcoach.org.

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