Photo by Tim Arterbury on Unsplash.
The Four Stages of Competence
Have you ever developed mastery in a skill or subject and thought “Wow, I can't believe I can do this now”? Whether it’s learning French, martial arts, how to make pots or a new job skill, expertise is an amazing feeling. But how did you get there?
In a recent coaching class, I found out. The Four Stages of Competence is a concept developed by Noel Burch at Gordon Training International that’s been around since the ’70s and still rings true — we go through four stages to achieve mastery of a new skill. You may recognize them in your own experience, like I did.
Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetence (Ignorance)
With any new skill, we usually start in a place of unconscious incompetence. We have little to no knowledge about the skill and are also unconscious of our ignorance. Motto for this stage: You don't know what you don't know.
Stage 2: Conscious Incompetence (Awareness)
We now have some knowledge about our lack of skill. We are also conscious that there is much we need to learn before mastery is achieved.
Stage 3: Conscious Competence (Learning)
Through active learning, we now know how to do the desired skill but it requires practice and effort.
Stage 4: Unconscious Competence (Mastery)
In this stage, the skill is now easy for us to perform and can be done unconsciously and without much effort.
How does it work? Think about learning to drive. We start with having no idea of what’s involved. Then, we take driver's ed and see how much there is to learn. As student drivers, we can drive, but with great effort and attention. As adults, driving becomes second nature.
I relate to these four stages of learning in many areas of my life. I love to paint with watercolors, for example, but even after many years, I feel that I am solidly in Stage 2, Conscious Incompetence. I marvel at others’ ability to paint with beauty and ease.
How does this concept relate to organizing and the home? Suppose you want to organize your closet, where disorder is a long-standing challenge. The four stages could look like this:
Stage 1: You’re aware of the challenge, but not aware that new knowledge and skills may help to address it.
Stage 2: You start to understand that there's a knowledge gap and some learning could be helpful. This may come as an aha! moment where you think "No one ever taught me how to do that.”
Stage 3: You begin to use your new skills, perhaps letting go of clothing you no longer need, hanging items up, or realizing you need a new plan for your space.
Stage 4: Your new skill of keeping your closet organized has now become second nature. When things start to fall apart, you know what to do to get the space back in order.
Learning new skills and changing habits is a lifelong journey that may seem daunting at first, but even small changes can yield big results. The first step: Developing awareness of the knowledge gap.
That’s where I can help. Coaching and organizing can get you through all four stages, from creating awareness to creating habits that stick. If you’re looking to get started, I hope you’ll reach out!
I have long been a fan of Marine Layer. With super-soft clothes in great styles, it fits my life perfectly. When I recently learned of Marine Layer's t-shirt recycling program, Re-Spun, I was hooked! Drop-off (or send in) old t-shirts of any variety and in any condition and they will send you a $5 Marine Layer credit for each shirt (up to $25, but no limit on donations.)
They sort the tees by color, break them down to the fiber level, add recycled plastic bottles to the fibers to create their recycled yarn, and create a brand new(ish) shirt using sustainable methods. No water, dye or new materials are used! Pretty amazing!
So far they have collected 100,000 tees and plan to keep going. On the Re-Spun FAQ page to the question "How long will you be collecting T-shirts?" Their answer is:
"Forever. (Or at least until we go out of business.) But seriously. We want Re-Spun to be a core part of what we do — and t-shirts are just the beginning. We're working hard to expand the program to other kinds of products. Stay tuned."
If you want to find out more or get a prepaid mailer, visit the Re-Spun site. If you want to drop off your tees in store, check out all of their locations. I had no idea there were so many!
Marine Layer (SF Locations):
2106 Chestnut St.
San Francisco, CA 94123
498 Hayes St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
If you enjoyed reading about interesting ways to repurpose items, take a look at my recent post about La Casa de las Madres.
All images from The Real Real Instagram feed.
When it's time to clear out your closet, most items happily to go Goodwill. However, if you have some luxury items that need a new home, let me introduce you to The Real Real.
The Real Real is an online luxury consignment site. Authentication is so important to this company that they put "real" in their name twice! They have everything from apparel to jewelry to handbags and more. Whether you are looking to sell or buy the process is simple. If you have just a few items to sell, they can send you a Consignment Kit or you can visit their SF offices. If you have more items, call Miranda to book an in-home appointment and review everything at once. If you happen to be in LA or New York, stop by their beautiful clothing consignment shops!
If you also have luxury home items that you are looking to sell, you're in luck! The Real Real recently added home consignments to their business. With everything from furniture to lighting to artwork, it's a virtual estate sale, with all the work taken off your hands. Give The Real Real a try and let me know what you think!
The Real Real
If you enjoyed this post take a look at Organize Your Closet with StyleBook.
One of my fabulously well-dressed clients recently informed me about StyleBook. What is StyleBook, you ask? It's an app that helps you virtually organize your real closet.
In the app, you can snap photos of your clothing, categorize individual pieces, and create virtual "looks". You can also put outfits on your calendar, create a packing list, save fashion inspiration, and shop at your favorite brands directly from the app.
If you're a person that loves all things fashion, this may be the app for you! If like me, your wardrobe is minimal and consists of too many pairs of jeans and t-shirts, it may be overkill. It's not a quick process, but I can see how it would pay off over time. StyleBook would be very handy when out shopping because you have your whole wardrobe at your fingertips! Finding items that work with what you already have would be a snap. It may even inspire me to upgrade from my jeans and t-shirts!
Give StyleBook a try and let me know what you think!
If you enjoyed this, check out my post about the West Portal Goodwill Boutique!
Do you know my favorite go-to site for giving away items that can't go to my usual donation organizations? Nextdoor!
Nextdoor a free social network designed to connect neighbors. They have a "For Sale and Free" section that I love. Simply post the item you want to give away, snap a photo, do a write-up and select how widely you want your post to be seen. It's so easy with the app! Interested neighbors will message you arrange to pick it up. Alternately, can put it in a sheltered outdoor spot by your home so they can pick it up at their convenience.
Their website states:
"Building connections in the real world is a universal human need. That truth, and the reality that neighborhoods are one of the most important and useful communities in our lives, have been a guiding principle for Nextdoor since it was founded in 2011."
I love the feeling of posting something - whether it's a box of legos, a ton of paper plates, or a bunny cage - and having a delighted neighbor show up, clearly happy they scored the item for free!
When working with a client recently we came upon her collection of vintage Laura Ashley dresses and I was instantly taken down memory late. If you are a child of the '80s, as I am, you either had or wanted a Laura Ashley dress.
For those who don't remember, these Little House on the Prarie-style dresses were all the rage in middle and high school. With floral patterns, high necklines, long sleeves, and tea-length hems, these dresses are the opposite of risqué, covering nearly every inch of your body. I can see how parents of teenagers would be on-board with this look! If you can't get enough Laura Ashley, this recent Guardian article gives a nice history of the company. Do you have any Laura Ashley gems still in your closet?
I was recently dropping off some client donations at the West Portal Goodwill Boutique and was struck by how absolutely adorable it was! With a nicely designed interior, great displays and a beautiful selection of clothing if felt much nicer than your standard Goodwill. If you're in the neighborhood, I encourage you to take a look!
West Portal Goodwill Boutique
61 W Portal Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94127
Today I was helping a client purge some cookbooks and we came upon this gem! It comes from the 1961 edition of The Complete Book of Entertaining by Nata Lee (now residing at Goodwill). In the section on invitations, there is a whole paragraph devoted to sending invitations by telegraph!
I also love the paragraph above that advises when calling people with details about a party to "not leave a message about the party with a servant" because of their unreliability. Not a problem in our household! If you feel that your cookbook library is not complete without the Complete Book of Entertaining, of course, it's available on Amazon!
Recycle Where? is a great tool for helping Bay Area residents determine how to donate, recycle, or responsibly dispose of unwanted items. Simply type the name of the item you are looking to donate into the search bar and up pops a list of organizations that can accept the item. Easy! The website is a collaboration between the city of San Francisco, Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and the city of Palo Alto.
Their website states:
"The goal of Recycle Where? is to reduce waste by providing accurate information about recycling, reuse, and proper disposal options for residents and businesses without regard to traditional municipal boundaries."
The next time you are stumped with a donation or disposal item, give Recycle Where? a try!
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, by Mason Currey
Title: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work
Author: Mason Currey
Publisher: Knopf (April 23, 2013)
SYNOPSIS (from back cover)
"Writers, composers, painters, choreographers, sculptors, filmmakers and scientists on how they create (and avoid creating) their creations."
Nikola Tesla worked until midnight, breaking only for a highly ritualized solo dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria. Georgia O'Keeffe liked to watch the sunrise with a cup of tea, take the dogs for a walk, then spend the rest of her day in her studio. Charles Schultz took his kids to school and settled down in his backyard studio to draw comic strips for the day, stopping only to have a ham sandwich for lunch.
Mason Currey's book Daily Rituals is a fascinating compilation of the daily routines of over 150 creative individuals. The book is an easy read, with each entry just a page or so long, and giving the essence of the subject's routines and creative habits. From stoic solitude to nights of debauchery, the routines cover it all. It's clear there is no one routine that works for all creative individuals. Creativity, as well as creative routines, comes in many forms.
It's interesting to pull back the curtain on these luminaries and see how they actually created their work amid other obligations, what they were frustrated with, and how their habits changed over time. I recommend this book if you are a creative individual seeking time and space to express your creativity in this world of obligations.
Erin Becker is the owner of PICK IT UP, a
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