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The 4 Stages of Adult Learning • What is Branding in Two Words

Do you know there even were four stages to adult learning? I never thought about it until I rammed and splattered against the wall of Conscious Incompetence, where we are now aware that we don't know... 😱

EL - 4 Stages of Adult Learning

Stage 1 • Unconscious Incompetence

This stage is when you don't know that you don't know. You're not aware that you're behind, lacking, or incompetent. That's why they say ignorance is bliss.

Stage 2 • Conscious Incompetence

As you grow, you become painfully aware that you don't quite know or aren't quite adept at something(s). To put it bluntly, you realize that you suck. (For now.) This happens a lot when we are re-inventing identities or making career 180's. 

This stage sees A LOT of self-development junkies, lone wolves, solopreneurs and one-woman-show's. I know, I've been there. Gives me the heebie jeebies to remember those nauseating days of trudging through discomfort, shame spirals on odd days and depression / anxiety roller-coasters on even days. <insert shudder>

Stage 3 • Conscious Competence

This stage is when you've got it. And the best part is: you know you've got it. You feel this sense of, "Look ma, look what I made!" pride, satisfaction and accomplishment. The worst is over. Whatever new knowledge, skill or behaviour may not be second nature yet, but you've got this.

This is where I see a lot of solopreneurs find their footing as entrepreneurs or freedompreneurs. It's also the stage where I see lots of burnout from the exertion of getting the rocket out of the atmosphere. If we don't take time not just to rest, but also to recharge, the next burnout will be exponentially harder to recover from.

Stage 4 • Unconscious Competence

This stage is when you are just you. Everything you've learned and practiced has integrated into your bones. You don't think about it. It's become not just second nature, but first nature. You're not even aware anymore of your competence. You just know. You just are. You do you and there you have it, results bloom into harvest.

How We Wish Adult Learning to Be

EL - 4 Stages of Adult Learning - Imagined Progression


How Adult Learning Actually Is

EL - 4 Stages of Adult Learning - Actual Progression


The downside of Stage 4 • Unconscious Competence is that you no longer see your genius as genius. You no longer realize the worth of your gifts and talents. They've become suuuuuuch an intrinsic, embedded part of you that you're kinda oblivious to them.

Example 1 • You love making money. It comes naturally to you. Heck, it's even super fun. So you have no idea what a struggle money is to millions, if not biiiiiillions. You'd make a great money mentor, but it never occured to you because your competence is unconscious to you.

Example 2 • You're highly empathetic. You feel everything from everyone. You're soooooo engrossed in deeeeeep insight and hiiiiiigh emotional intelligence (EQ) that you have no idea that millions pay billions of dollars every year to leadership training programs to learn the skill of empathy and EQ. WHAT?!? Empathy is a skill?!? Isn't everybody just empathetic. No, no they're not, millions of people can't feel, don't know how to feel, have no insight whatsoever and need the very talent that you don't know you have.

This is where branding comes in. Have you ever wondered, "What is branding anyways?" In under two words, branding can be defined as "this arrow":

EL - 4 Stages of Adult Learning - Branding

In more than two words, branding is making your competence conscious to you again. It's seeing, acknowledging, capturing and articulating in human language your competence, also known as the depth and beauty of your soul 🌹.

But what if I don't know the depth and beauty of my soul? That's why we created Part 1 • Unleash Your Genius in our Unleash Your Freedom masterclass, so you can shed (as my soulsister Sara calls it) all the rusty crusty shells around your seeing your glory.

4 Types of Knowing

I write a lot about the 4 types of knowing (mind, heart, body, and soul knowing).

Stage 1 • Unconscious Incompetence corresponds to an auto-pilot. There's a bit of Body Knowing in the mix, as in your body's Autonomic Nervous System knows to breath. There's a bit of Heart Knowing in the mix, as in your heart knows to yearn and love. But only a bit.

Stage 2 • Conscious Incompetence corresponds to Mind Knowing of our incompetence(s).

Stage 3 • Conscious Competence  corresponds to Mind Knowing of our competence(s), while approx. halfway there to Heart Knowing and Body Knowing.

Stage 4 • Unconscious Competence corresponds to Hear Knowing + Body Knowing + Soul Knowing. The Mind Knowing has left the building.

Hence, branding is a vehicle to restore that Mind Knowing in Stage 4. Bet you didn't know that, did ya? 😜

Live fierce and free,

xo, Ella




Having navigated 131 countries, 87 emotions, 46.5 traumas, and 16 careers, Ellany Lea inspires and guides phoenixes, overachievers, entrepreneurs and wayshowers to live fierce, fulfilled and free.