With the Tamil Big Boss-2 show reaching the climax stage (should have the winner announced when you read this), the controversies due to the fights & issues within the house and the surprise exit of stronger candidates like Yashika, Daniel, Balaji has raised more than eye brows among the public about the show’s lack of authenticity. Another frequently discussed aspect of the show is about the experience being part of the show and the learning that one gets out of it. But let’s pause for a moment and think whether this is true? Trust me; it is not and what we get to see or hear is a marketing gimmick to give a larger than life image to the show, so that they could make good profits on their huge investments in the show. The contestants who were part of the show get more opportunities and fame afterwards, but very little happens on the learning front. The reason I say so is that the process of learning is a longer one, that it’s impossible to turn around on a behavior just in a matter of days. To learn why it is so, please do read further…
One could understand a lot about learning or how to learn a new skill/ lesson by studying this simple, but an effective technique known as Conscious competency model which is believed to be developed from the principles of Abraham Maslow. This model details the different stages involved in the learning process and is based on two factors – the level of consciousness and degree of competency. While consciousness refers to the degree of awareness that one has about the topic or area of interest, competency refers to the expertise or knowledge that one has about the topic or area.
The four stages of the model are the following:
- Unconscious Incompetence
- Conscious Incompetence
- Conscious Competence
- Unconscious Competence
Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetence
“I don’t know what I don’t know.”
“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance”
– Confucius (551–479 BC; philosopher).
In this stage, one isn’t aware of their lack of knowledge or incompetency about a skill due to their ignorance, as he/she doesn’t require the skill now or doesn’t really understand its value. For example, if a person doesn’t travel much or is afraid of bike travel, then he/she would choose to ignore about their incompetency towards bike riding. This over a time makes the person unconscious about their incompetence for the skill, thereby getting them stuck in this stage forever. This intuitive ignorance could prove dangerous for the person’s learning, as rightly pointed out by Charles Darwin – “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”.
Another reason for a person to get stuck in this stage could be due to over-confidence wherein one feels that he/she is good with the skill already but in reality, it’s not the case though. This phenomenon is known as Dunning–Kruger effect in psychology wherein people of lesser ability mistakenly assume their cognitive ability to be greater than what it is due to their illusory superiority.
A strong awareness of oneself, constant analysis of one’s strengths & weakness and being open-minded could help one realize the lack of a particular skill and move to the second stage of learning – the conscious incompetency stage. A good teacher or an expert also could help the person realize his mistake and move on with the next stage of learning.
Stage 2: Conscious Incompetence
“I know what I don’t know.”
The second stage starts with the realization that the person lacks the skill of interest and prepares to learn the skill. This stage also could be an uncomfortable one as he/she has to accept their shortcoming which could be difficult to comprehend at first but the acknowledgement serves as the motivation to move ahead and train for the skill. The person starts to chart out the objective along with the end stage of the learning process and looks for tools and the resources required to get there.
With regards setting goals and achievement of the goals (in line with learning a new skill), find below a simple technique that I read from a book – The monk who sold his Ferrari
- Form a clear mental picture (Plan) – Dream about the goal, visualize or imagine yourself, how you feel after attaining the goal/success (gives you confidence).
- Create positive pressure – Think about a few things (let it be positive) that you would like to do if you don’t follow the plan. Example: If I don’t control my anger today, I won’t have non-vegetarian food for the entire week (trust me, food serves as a great motivating factor).
- Set a deadline and milestones – Breaking the goal into small milestones could make one enjoy the process of learning and measure the progress.
- Put it to paper – write it in a diary or notepad. Take and read your goals regularly as it would help you remember the goal.
- Do it regularly – Doing a task regularly makes it habitual and I read somewhere that a minimum of 10000 hours approx. of practice is required to gain mastery over a skill.
Stage 3: Conscious Competence
“I know and can do it now.”
The preparation one does during the earlier stage helps them to face this challenging stage in a confident and efficient manner. This stage could be the most important one as it would need greater participation and commitment from the person as well as from the people who is going to support this person in achieving the goal. With a structured process in place, one could slowly improve their skill or competency through regular training, practice and feedback with the use of right tools. For example, learning to ride a bike would require basic knowledge about the details of a bike, a thorough understanding of the traffic rules and the technical know how to ride a bike. You could either do it on your own by watching videos on YouTube or taking the effort of an expert bike rider or a friend.
Stage 4: Unconscious Competence
“I am so good at this now.”
When learning the skill, one does everything step by step in a conscious manner according to what is there in the YouTube video or what is taught by the expert. Regular practice boosts the confidence of the person as he/she breaks the shackles of being reliant on the instructions of the YouTube video or the expert and becomes a professional at using the skill. Again taking the bike riding as an example, when you learn to ride a bike, you consciously try to remember the steps on how to use the break, clutch and accelerator and what speed to travel when using a particular gear but with regular practice, you just start changing gears unconsciously by intuition without any thought as it is already etched in your sub conscious memory.
Stage 5: Consciousness of Unconscious Competence or Shared Competence
“I am so good at this now and share it with others.”
As human beings, we are prone to making mistakes and so it is very important to keep shuttling between the conscious-and unconscious-competency stages so that we are aware of what we are doing and reduce the chances of committing any serious mistakes. This stage had been added in the recent times to the model and considered be a crucial stage, wherein one has complete control over the skill and starts to help others achieve unconscious competence in the skill. There is an important lesson for the managers here when using the technique, which is not to keep your employees for long in the unconscious competency stage as they may get complacent, less competent, lose confidence and start making major mistakes. This could also lead to a psychological phenomenon known as impostor syndrome, wherein the person questions his/ her competency in using the skill and believes their past accomplishments with the skill to be a fraud. There is also another contrasting scenario possible wherein the employee gets over-confident that they start seeing themselves as a big fish and their colleagues to be of small fishes which is known as big fish in a small pond syndrome in the psychology field. Giving the role of training new recruits or a mentor could help one to be conscious about their skill competency and steer away clear of such psychological disorders.
Coming back to the question whether big boss contestants use this platform in the right way, I feel that most of them come into the show looking for fame and limelight that they forget the core objective of the show – to learn and transform themselves that would give them greater everlasting fame in the future. Some of the classic examples in the current show are Mumtaz in constant denial about her mistakes (unconscious incompetence), Aishwarya not being able to control her anger (keeps shuttling between unconscious- and conscious- incompetence stages), Vaishnavi on gossiping (conscious incompetence but very little efforts towards moving on to the next stage). There has been positive progress with some of the candidates like Balaji, Yashika, Riythvika but it needs to be seen how they really take this forward into their real lives without the cameras or instructions from the Big Boss.
Learning a new skill is always difficult but with right tools like the conscious competency model, one can make this journey an enjoyable and fun-filled one.