Measuring experience / competence

The four levels of competence by Jordan Belfort.

  1. Unconscious incompetence
  2. Conscious incompetence
  3. Conscious competence
  4. Unconscious competence
  5. Conclusion
    1. Who can recognize incompetence?
    2. Can one also descend?

I want to talk about the four levels of competence that accompany you everyday in all areas of your life. If you want to make a career with something, this information will be useful to you.

There are four levels in each thing that applies to your competence and you are in a phase of these. The four phases are:

  1. Unconscious incompetence
  2. Conscious incompetence
  3. Conscious competence
  4. Unconscious competence

Let me explain what these stages are about. This system is actually very easy to understand.

Unconscious incompetence

This applies to someone who does not know that a thing exists or overestimates so much that he thinks he’ll master that one thing, though that’s not the case at all.

Take, for example, a child who can not tie shoelaces. This kid does not know at the beginning what it means to tie the laces.

On the other hand, one could have the programmer who thinks he is very good at programming, but is taught in the real world that he is not.

Conscious incompetence

This is the stage where it has become clear to you that you still have a long way to go, and that is why you begin to learn.

In the case of the child, this is the stage where he learns to tie his shoes. He tries it every time anew and is always supported by older people.

In the case of the programmer, as soon as he realizes that he can not program as well as he thought and starts to learn, he has arrived in this stage of competence.

Conscious competence

If the person can do one thing now, but still has to focus on the work, that person is conscious competent. He is sure that he can do a task and makes conscious steps.

For the boy who has learned to tie his shoes, this is the stage where he puts on a shoe and tightens his shoe.

In programming this would be when the programmer thinks about what steps he needs to take next to achieve his goal and then successfully implement those steps.

Unconscious competence

The unconscious competence is the highest kind of competence. Here the person is so good at the thing he does, that he does not even have to think about what needs to be done next, but all information happens by itself.

All of us tie our shoes without thinking about the steps. This shows us that we are unconsciously competent in the matter and it happens on its own.

In programming this would be the phase when the programmer no longer has to think about the next steps and has to remember again how something works, but for each problem there is automatically a solution in his head.


As already mentioned, these four stages accompany us all our lives and we have to deal with them every day.

For example, most preachers in the world are unconsciously incompetent and still have a very high number of followers. The responsibility of the listener is to recognize the incompetence and to educate themselves further.

Who can recognize incompetence?

Anyone who is in a higher position on this ladder can recognize the incompetence of another person. Not the other way around.

Can one also descend?

Yes. You can even descend from the highest level as soon as you become proud and feel better. At that moment you fall to the penultimate stage.


education Experience guide human Life Opinion Program Psychology trust

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