- Unconsciously Incompetent — Beginner. You don’t know what you don’t know.
- Consciously Incompetent — You know what you don’t know. You have a better direction on what you need to learn.
- Consciously Competent — You know enough but must deliberately practice maintaining that knowledge.
- Unconsciously Competent — Mastery. You don’t need to think about what you’re doing within a domain.
This framework guides your decision-making in choosing which games you have better chances of winning.
Everyone has a different skillset, so finding where you’re consciously and unconsciously competent allows you to define where you have an edge over others. These could be skills or personality traits. Maybe you know finance well, or perhaps you work harder than everyone else. Whatever it is, identifying those qualities will allow you to figure out where you can operate with the highest rate of return.
This isn’t a blanket framework. I don’t like to think of this as a rulebook defining what you should and shouldn’t do. That’s self-limiting. Instead, use this when a situation is high-risk or high-urgency. If it’s neither, then default to action and give yourself room to make mistakes.
The goal should be to expand this circle of competence as far out as possible so that you increase your success rate. Define the qualities and skills you want to master and spend time expanding your circle until it covers them. The more domains you can operate within, the better.