- Thoughts for inspired living

October 21, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:21 am

For the most part, I live my life on automatic pilot and so do you. Thank God!

There are so many things that we do that are automated so we don’t have to think about them. It wasn’t always that way. Reminds me of something I learned from my NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) training . . .

There are four stages of becoming competent at something. They are:

1. Unconsciously incompetent

2. Consciously incompetent

3. Consciously competent

4. Unconsciously competent

Here’s an example: When learning to tie your shoes, you had no experience with shoe tying, and it appeared foreign to you. You were unconsciously incompetent—no experience in the files.

After observing your model (e.g., parent ) tie his or her shoes or your shoes for you and encouraging you to make the attempt, you found yourself to be consciously incompetent—the specific motor skills had not yet developed.

Then came that glorious day when you could do it all by yourself. It took all your conscious attention to get it done. You could now do it. That’s conscious competence.

Finally, you evolved to the point where you could direct your conscious attention elsewhere while simultaneously tying your shoe. That’s when it becomes part of us. We are then unconsciously competent. It’s now patterned behavior. We now own that ability or talent. You are now fully able to tie your shoes with the best of them.

These sub-routines, known as patterns, can make life so much easier.

Patterns can also lull us to sleep, as I said in yesterday’s blog, causing us not to notice.

It’s useful to take inventory of our patterns from time to time to see which ones are working and which ones keep us stuck in gear. It’s great that we can tie our shoes without thinking, but how useful is it to paint ourselves into the same corner time after time by running the same routine?

Here’s what these two patterns have in common. We had to practice them both for them to become routine. One serves us well; the other gets in our way.

The same element that made a counter-productive pattern a routine is the same element we need to outgrow it – Practice.

We would be well served to practice interruption. Interruption keeps stimulus and response from staying in contact. When you notice a pattern and interrupt it, you have momentarily caused the automatic connection to associated behavior to become temporarily suspended. Interrupting something once is interesting; practicing it over and over becomes transformative.

Ask any accomplished musician and they will tell you there is no substitute for practice. Look at anyone at the top of their game and you will find the common denominator of practice. Practice is what takes someone who has a lot of potential and makes them into a household word. Practicing interruption is the key element in outgrowing a pattern that’s on automatic pilot – one that’s flying you into the mountainside every time.

Financial Guru Jim Cramer says you’ll never be wealthy until you learn to save, and my experience suggests you’ll never grow up ’til you learn to interrupt.

When you interrupt automatic behavior, you create a space between the stimulus and response. It’s from this space that new patterns emerge, take hold and grow. It simply takes practice.

I won’t ask you how to get to Carnegie Hall. You already know the answer.

All the best,


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