The Awareness and Ability Paradigm

“Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by those doing it.”

                                                — James A. Baldwin

In the early 1990’s, I was fortunate to have been introduced to a Cincinnati based organization by the name of Life Success Seminars. The group’s primary mission was to facilitate a weekend-long personal intensive, referred to as BASIC and comprised of lectures, small group discussions and generous chunks of time for personal reflection of the concepts that I was learning along the way.

BASIC was led by a modern-day Magellan, schooled and skilled in the art of emotional navigation. His name is Mike Monahan and through my participation in his program, the emotional trajectory of my life was forever altered.

Wisdom rained down from the very start of the retreat. The topics of personal responsibility, unconscious intentions, dominant thought patterns, personal contracts, the responsibility square, exercises like the red and black game, and other emotional quotient (EQ) exercises were facilitated and unpacked. At the conclusion of the weekend, I returned home feeling as though I had just run the equivalent of an emotional marathon. Ever since, I have been inspired by the weekend’s mantra … my life works in direct proportion to the commitments that I make and keep!

Joe Torre, the former Major League Baseball player and manager of the four time World Series champion New York Yankees is one of BASIC’s notable graduates. He has acknowledged that the Life Success Seminar deserves much of the credit for the emotional shifts that led to dramatic improvements in both his personal and his professional life.

A core component of the weekend was the introduction of a very practical teaching that I call The Awareness & Ability Paradigm. It is a model that illustrates the subtle dynamics in play between an individual’s consciousness and his competence and how these manifest results in his physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual state. The model is comprised of four distinct quadrants, each depicting unique combinations of competence and consciousness; how they intersect and how their interplay can frame our life experience.

The four quadrants of The Awareness & Ability Paradigm can be summed up as follows:

Unconscious Incompetence – I stink at a particular activity or behavior and EVERYONE knows it EXCEPT for me. These I now refer to as my blind-sides.

Conscious Incompetence – I stink at a particular activity or behavior and EVERYONE knows it…INCLUDING me! This intersection is where my repeated failures and frustrations give rise to new learning and resourcefulness.

Conscious Competence – I am good at a particular activity or behavior because I work at it…sometimes I have to work very hard to get the results that I want. Success here is an act of my will. This is where my desire and discipline meet. When I commit here, my life changes in meaningful ways.

Unconscious Competence – I am good at a particular activity or behavior and EVERYONE knows it EXCEPT for me. If people ask me how I do a particular thing so effectively, I find it difficult to explain or to dissect. Performing at high levels in this category comes naturally. This intersection is where my joy and my fulfillment get the most traction. The more hours that I fill with these types of activities, the closer that I am to living a life that is true to my unique purpose.

I have come to view this simple assessment as the perfect exercise to help me in taking a personal inventory and to refocus my aim on improving where I need it most. It also affirms me and encourages me to stay the course in the areas where I am performing at high levels. When I invite others who are close to me to participate in the review process, the power of the assessment shifts into overdrive.

The backdrop provides an easy method to employ others in being rigorously honest with me about my performance in my most important roles. Sometimes, I learn that improvement requires very little effort, for example turning on the bathroom fan or taking a second to be sure that my clothes are right-side out before I toss them in to the clothes hamper. Small shifts in my performance can dramatically affect someone else’s life experience.

Within the next few cruxes, I intend to focus on practical examples for each of the four quadrants of the Awareness and Ability Paradigm. I will do so by sharing my assessments and my struggles to adapt and grow. The payoff is a clearer understanding of what I need to STOP doing, what I need to START doing, and what I need to KEEP doing in my life.

Awareness is a fundamental requirement of living balanced and focused. That said, regular assessment and candid 360° feedback are invaluable tools that assist in my effort to change and grow.

Thomas “TD” Dierker
Live like you’re dying….cause you are!

Comments 3

  1. Rick

    Great perspective TD. Super appreciate this one.

    As a photog and designer…it’s the Unconscious Competency that I struggle with…especially charging for it. That shift when I left the corporate world and started out on my own was a tough one. “If it is so instinctual and easy, I should give it away right?”

    I have also been very afraid of the Unconscious incompetence as a creative. Often find it difficult to ask for feedback for fear of what might come out. That said, I’ve learned that in knowing the weakness I can work that muscle to become stronger.

    Great image too brother. What must a shipbuilder examine before he builds a great vessel?…What worked in the past? What didn’t? What new horizons will this ship encounter that others haven’t and weren’t prepared for?

    1. Post
      Author
      TD Dierker

      Rick-

      The unconscious stuff is always the toughest for me…on both sides of the paradigm. The best I can do is work hard at trying to stay open and honest. I encourage candid feedback from those closest to me. I try to listen to body language too–so much is said without words. Thanks for your comments.

      1. Post
        Author
        TD Dierker

        Rick-

        The unconscious stuff is always the toughest for me…on both sides of the paradigm. The best I can do is work hard at trying to stay open and honest. I encourage candid feedback from those closest to me. I try to listen to body language too–so much is said without words. Thanks for your comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.