4 Steps to Improve Your Performance (in anything).

Are you Underperforming? 

The answer is yes.

While your reactive brain may have already told you to disregard the rest of this article, the truth is we are all under-performing. And whether you choose to call it “under-performing”  or “endless untapped potential”, the reality is, we all have a next level, either known or unknown to us.  Before you react (any further:) consider this…

Are you applying all that you’ve learned? Are you continually pushing the envelope with the latest methods and techniques to improve your performance? Perhaps yes, from a technical standpoint. What about all that you’ve learned about time management, mental health, delegation, communication, empathy and leading others? Do you continuously improve in those areas which have a huge impact on your bottom line – however that’s measured?

You’re not alone. I recognize this “under-performance” in myself. I’ll choose not to apply something I’ve learned or not to act on something I want to achieve.  Why? Because my automatic way of doing things is easy and habit change is “hard”. 

I recognize this when I work with our clients as well. Many of you have 30+ years of ingrained patterns of reaction and response. This ingrained way of doing things wins out over freshly learned techniques of communication and self-awareness, connecting and leading.

So why are we all under-performing? 

The short answer is: we’re human!

We know we have a next level in us. I don’t think I’ve ever rated myself a 10/10 on anything. I fully recognize there’s another level that I’m capable of – whether I can see it yet or not. I’ve been in the human development game long enough to recognize/accept that we all have blind spots. They’re called “blind” for a reason… they are invisible. If we weren’t blind to them they’d just be “spots” that you know about and could focus your attention on directly. 🙂


Sometimes we have identified these blind spots (or someone has kindly pointed them out to us). So, what stops us from acting on them? What causes us to revert back to our old ways?

Allow me to expand on an insightful model* which we share with our clients.



* Initially known as the “four stages for learning any new skill,” the 4 States of Competence was a learning model originally introduced in the 1970s by Noel Burch, an employee of Gordon Training International.

The 4 steps you must go through to improve your performance (in anything):

  1. Unconscious incompetence: Automatic habits/patterns of doing things the way we’ve always done them. “We don’t know what we don’t know.” (Blindspot.)
  2. Conscious incompetence: Heightened awareness. Now “we know what we don’t know”, and when we become aware of something that can help us, we often wish we knew it earlier. Here people either revert back to old habits and are temporarily pained by knowing they’re leading in a way that isn’t fulfilling to them or to others or they press on, continue to seek out a better way and practice it. (Blindspot identified.)
  3. Conscious competence: We have found a better way! While not automatic yet, we know what to do, and if we focus and commit to practicing the new founds skills, it works for us and those around us. (No longer a blind spot, simply a spot I’m working on.)
  4. Unconscious competence: Hooray – we now have this “new way” ingrained and it is our automatic way of leading. The irony is, this step leads right back to the first, as there is always another blind spot, another level of competence and performance. (Blindspot overcome!) You may start asking yourself: what’s the next blind spot I can’t see?

So it’s not that you’re UNDER-performing, you’re merely performing where you’re at right now.  Could you be doing better? We both know the answer to that. Will you choose to? Your call!

A closing thought that a friend once shared with me, “we always do the best we can in that moment.”  It took me a while to relate to that, but I now understand what he was saying. No matter how great or how poorly we performed in any situation, we acted that way because of all that was going on within and around us. Period.

To hone your skills of self- awareness, commitment and performance click the poster below to be a part of our next Conscious Leadership Experience where leaders identify blind spots, practice new ways of thinking, leading and improving their results.