“Confidence doesn’t come out of nowhere. It is the result of something…hours and days and weeks and years of constant work and dedication.” Roger Staubach
“One important key to success is self-confidence. And one key to self-confidence is preparation.” Arthur Ashe
We all know it’s true: Improvement isn’t the result of giant steps, but small ones. It’s the fruit of working steadily, not sometimes – it’s the result of sitting down at the page even when we don’t feel like doing it. Somehow, though, I believe we all yearn to think that we should be making great strides, leaping over tall buildings in a single bound. Well, that’s Superman’s job, not ours. And ease is for birds singing in trees. We, earthbound writers need to put in the time, do the work, make the effort.
Effort. I know, I know, it’s a tough word to handle. Here’s how my handy Century Dictionary defines it: “an exertion of power, physical or mental; a strenuous attempt.” In today’s digital, downloadable world, where everything’s just a click away, it’s tempting to think that we can take a shortcut to honing our craft, but mastery isn’t achieved overnight.
But there’s a path we can take that will get us there. It unfolds in stages. Actually, experts who study skill-building have identified we go through in order to reach the point where we do something extremely well without thinking and with seemingly with little effort. But we reach this stage because of all the work that’s gone before. Here are the four stages:
- Unconsciously Incompetent: At this stage, we’re uncomfortable and challenged: we don’t know what we need to do or how to do it.
- Consciously Incompetent: Here, we’re aware of what we need to do and know to become skilled, but we are a long way from it.
- Consciously Competent: Now we are aware of the skills needed and we are competently exercising them, but we are thinking too much about it.
- Unconsciously Competent: At this stage, we’re comfortable and skilled. We are now performing in the moment with seeming ease, using our mind, body, and soul harmoniously to achieve peak performance.
At every stage, we need discipline to stay focused and energized. As we move through them, we gather strength and power and our creativity blossoms.
What a fruitful path! It’s ours to choose every day as we all write on!