A Side Note to the Four Stages of Learning


In the previous post on the Four Stages of Learning Anything New, we looked at the four key stages of learning a new skill, a new hobby or starting a new business.

In continuation with this idea, this time let us take a deeper look in to each of the four stages and see what each one of them entail.

Being a side note, it will be short description of one or two key points about each stage and how the behavior of an individual changes in each of the four stages.

Stage 1: Beginner’s Luck

A few things to understand about Beginner’s Luck:

  1. This is also the stage of over-confidence where, just by a few strokes of luck, one ends up winning something. This may give a feeling to the person that they are a pro. This obviously is a mistake and is so much away from the truth. The real pro is one who has crossed all stages and has reached to the Gold.
  2. ‘Beginner’s Unluck’ is the also stage where one quits just because of a first bad impression. This can only be termed as unwise. Just because the first impression of a game or a skill or a job is not very good does not mean I stop doing that thing altogether. If I want to learn that thing, it only makes sense to pursue it and continue pursuing till one crosses the Grind.

Stage 2: The Grind

A few things to understand about The Grind:

  1. This is where majority of people quit. Of all the stages, The Grind is the hardest one to crack. This is where the body and the mind are learning. This is the stage where persistence, patience and all those motivational words, quotes and lectures become important. Mainly because this is where we make most of our mistakes. And when the stakes are high, like while running a business or studying for an exam, it is not easy to keep one’s mind in the balance. That is why this stage requires a constant eye on the goal and a persistent effort to keep walking towards it.
  2. Interestingly, this is also the stage where one should quit! If I don’t feel like playing guitar because my instructor, my fingers or any other factor is leading to un-enjoyment, I must quit playing the guitar as soon as possible. If I didn’t really want to run a business in this particular industry, with this particular team etc and running the business is actually leading to un-enjoyment, the Grind is where I must quit. Take it as a mistake and move on. Many times, we continue doing the things we don’t enjoy until we reach to a stage of escalation of commitment. Post which, quitting becomes even more difficult because now the stakes are even high.
  3. This is also the stage where practicing the craft in the right way helps. To go through the Grind, one often needs a teacher or a Guru who herself has gone through it and is now equipped with the skills and the willingness to pass it on to the next generation. Spending time doing the right research and preferably getting a teacher makes a lot of sense so as to avoid unnecessary and easily avoidable pitfalls.

Stage 3: The Growth

A few things to understand about The Growth:

  1. Depending on the objective of entering in the skill or business, it makes sense for the person who has crossed the Grind and reached to the Growth stage to enjoy the skill to the fullest and if they so desire, to keep practicing and to reach to the Gold as smoothly as possible. Reaching the Growth stage is an achievement in itself!
  2. Those inclined to helping others by teaching can also teach this skill at this stage. This is because teaching will provide for the necessary life support and also pave a natural path to get better at it so as to be able to teach better.

As they say, the best way to learn something is to teach it!

Stage 4: The Gold

A few things to understand about The Gold:

  1. This is the stage where one reaps the benefit of all the years of effort and hard work done till that stage. Reaching to the Gold in at least one area of life is essential for a sustained livelihood.
  2. This is the stage where one can safely get to ground zero and begin another project from the Beginner’s Luck.
  3. This is also the stage where it makes sense to teach the skill and pass on the knowledge to the next generation before one’s body and mind passes the world. Thus, at this stage people often get into consulting, teaching, coaching or other similar professions.

Role Reversal

Many a times, the Y factor or the external situations of a person’s life lead to a role reversal or a switch from the Gold to the Growth or the Growth to the Grind.

This happens particularly in business when the market conditions become bad leading to intermittent losses or accumulation of debts. This also happens in life when one tends to forget a skill which is not practiced for a long time due to an injury or other change of circumstances.

At these times, particularly for a business, the value of the brand and the willingness of the founders to continue the business make a lot of difference. If the team has created a brand out of their business due to which they could move from the Grind to the Growth, the market conditions won’t make a permanent impact. This is because even though the business may have moved to the Grind stage, in the longer run, the brand and the reputation of the team would prevail and the business has high chances of flourishing with the easing of the economy.

In the same way, even though I have not practiced playing the guitar for years, as I pick it again, I will recall the patterns and will again start playing the guitar in the olden ways in a short span of time.

Once the mind has those references of the movement from the Grind to the Growth to the Gold, the Role Reversal creates a temporary impact which can be taken to the higher Stage by spending time on the skill.

Live another Day

This was a little tidbit about the Four Stages of Learning. I hope you enjoyed it.

The purpose of this piece of writing is to help me and you understand that all these stages are inevitable in anything new that we learn in life. In fact we have already been dealing with these stages since childhood in a subtle way with our subconscious minds.

The important thing to understand is that every time I feel like quitting something because it’s too hard or because I feel that I’m not made for it, it is important

  • to understand what Stage I am in,
  • to understand that this has happened with me before,
  • and to understand that this happens with everyone who passes this Stage.

With this realization, coupled with the Purpose with which I began that something at the first place, I can get back to work, try some more, make a little more effort and wake up to live another day.