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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Competence And Patterns

Which habit or routine do you seem to have the most trouble escaping?

The brain is an exquisite pattern-making machine. When we train ourselves to brush our teeth each morning, or exercise on the way home from work, or eat slowly, we reap the benefits of that pattern-making machinery. According to behavioral psychologists, in the ideal, building a skill requires we move from a stage of unconscious incompetence (we don't know what we don't know) to conscious incompetence (we know what we don't know) to conscious competence (we practice what we know) to unconscious competence (we become what we practice). An elegant example of these stages is when we learn to drive.

But what happens if we're in the unconscious competence stage and decide what we built has morphed into a habit or routine that is no longer beneficial? How do we un-learn what we've become, i.e. dissemble that pattern? As a lifelong musician, deconstructing and then reassembling patterns is more than an academic exercise. And as an amateur tennis player, just a few lessons woke me up to how exquisitely that brain of mine built some very unhelpful patterns.  

Where in your life has that exquisite machinery in your brain gotten in your way?        

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