The Program

It all starts with the learning process

   Before you skip to the part with the videos, it’s important to understand how the learning process works, or why it fails in certain cases. This isn’t just about learning how to pedal a bike, this is about anything you learn. It’s worth a read…

How do I know if I know how to do something?

It’s a valid question that doesn’t get asked often enough. These days people try to replace the learning process with watching a youtube video, but how much do you actually learn? How much have you learned? Where do you stand in the spectrum from total incompetence to truly competent?  Let’s make this multiple choice:

Unconscious incompetence

   The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage.

Conscious incompetence

   Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage

Conscious competence

   The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.

Unconscious competence

   The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

Just watching a YouTube video places you somewhere between the unconscious incompetent and the conscious incompetent – not very flattering! To go beyond that you must recognize the three stages of motor learning:

Stages of Learning Characteristics Attentional Demands
Cognitive (verbal) Movements are slow, inconsistent, and inefficient Large parts of the movement are controlled consciously
Considerable cognitive activity is required
Associative Movements are more fluid, reliable, and efficient Some parts of the movement are controlled consciously, some automatically
Less cognitive activity is required
Autonomous (motor) Movements are accurate, consistent, and efficient Movement is largely controlled automatically
Little or no cognitive activity is required


My point???

Nothing shows how well people ignore the learning process as well as pedaling a bicycle. Most people think it’s natural. These are the same people who spent the first year of their lives learning how to walk. The difference between those two motor skills is walking allows for a failure state – you can fall down, and I’ll bet you fell a few times while learning. Pedaling a bike is different (we’re not talking about balancing a bike, we’re talking about turning the pedals). Try to make the pedal go in a path other than the circle. You can’t. The machine controls the movement and doesn’t allow for a failure state. Does this mean you know how to pedal a bike? No, it means you’re the unconscious incompetent.

Practice, practice, practice…

The fault in the learning process is that most people want to move onto the next step before the part they’re working on becomes second nature. The genius of the Karate Kid was that Daniel made his defensive moves autonomous without wanting to skip to the next part, because he didn’t know what he was learning.