Monday, August 10, 2009

Reaching Unconscious Competence And Important Saddle Time

After returning from my most recent seminar (Image Makers in Blue Springs, MO), the following email was in my in box.

I am sharing excerpts here, with the permission of the writer. It has a good few messages – especially about learning to become a good photographer and the different levels of learning.

Good thing I showed one of my favorite horseback riding pictures during the seminar :-)

P.S. Hey, getting email like this - and learning - is one of the reasons why I do so many seminars and workshops.
Dear Rick:

I thoroughly enjoyed your photography seminar yesterday. I was the incessant note taker.

We spoke briefly at supper about you wanting to learn more about horses and riding. I am not certain what your schedule looks like, but I would be willing to spend some time with you so that you could move toward your dream of "riding as fast as the horse wants to run." I have done this, and I can assure you that it is thrilling.

In jumping they call it "throwing your heart over". I believe you could make some significant progress in 3-4 hours. But as in anything else worth doing, "saddle time" is crucial. Riding horses is another form of learning to dance - the better the communication, the better the dance.

You also asked about a quote used by my horsemanship mentor:

Levels of Learning

1. Unconscious Incompetence
2. Conscious Incompetence
3. Conscious Competence
4. Unconscious Competence - The level we all want to reach in the things we care passionately about.

Thank you again, and God bless you,

Stephanie Moore


Terry said...

Thanks for the post. I have heard about these levels before, but the way I've always been told had levels has #3 and #4 swapped around. The thinking for that would go like this. "unconscious competence means that we are good, but we don't know why." and "conscious competence means we are good and we can explain why we are good." Checking with Wikipedia, it agrees with your ordering but adds a 'possible fifth' - reflective competence which is more along the lines of what I was thinking about.

Rick Sammon said...

Terry. Thank you very much for your comment. Let me reflect on what you are saying :-)

Stephan Glathe said...

...and in his book "Outliers: The Story of Success" Malcolm Gladwell suggests that in order to become really great at things we're passionate about, we have to spend 10.000 hours doing it....

:) stephan

Rick Sammon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Sammon said...

Stephan.... only 10,000 hours? I have a long way to go!! I have only taken a few hours of pictures... if you consider that many pictures were taken at 1/250th of a second or faster :-)

Dale A. Welcome said...


I first was introduced to the levels of learning not as levels but as a horizontal spectrum in a leadership development class. Since then, I have used it and come across the concept many times in learning theory.

Another learning theory I teach and consider often is this:


I use it in organizational learning theory but it applies to personal learning and development as well. In a personal context, here is the definition:

L= rate of learning
C= rate of change
Your personal rate of learning needs to be greater than the rate of change around you such that you grow and develop. If your rate of learning falls behind the rate of change, you fall behind and lose.

On a corporate level, when an organizations do not learning, or are not learning organizations, they begin to fail, get beat by their competetition or fall behind in the marketplace.

But I like the personal application for purposes of personal development,individual enrichment, growth, and sustained well-being.

Have a great week...... and learn in everything you do!


Rick Sammon said...

Hey everyone! Thanks for your comments.. after only posting this about 1 hour ago.

I gotta go! I need to make some new learning slides for my presentations.

Thank you again!


Carolyn Fox said...

Sometimes proficiency in things we are passionate about come to us easily, others we have to work at. When it came to riding horses, I reached the "unconscious competence" level very quickly. It came naturally to me. I was good at it, but couldn't explain why. I'm still working to get there with my photography. Each picture, each seminar & each photographic adventure is a step towards that goal. Last week-end was another step. Thanks, Rick!

Buddy Lee said...

Love the energy. And certainly the backlighting helped convey that. And also the joint flowing "manes"! Nice image. It reminds me of one that I shot from the front with the sun coming up behind the rider. Tons of energy!