The Conscious Competence Model

Discover What We Know About All The Things We Don’t Know

Andy Murphy
5 min readMar 9, 2021


What Is The Model?

The Conscious Competence model is made up of four parts (with an additional fifth part that comes only after the model has been completed. We’ll get to that part later).

  1. Unconscious Incompetence
  2. Conscious Incompetence
  3. Conscious Competence
  4. Unconscious Competence

Let’s start with number one.

Unconscious Incompetence

These are of all of the things that we suck at without knowing that we suck at them. They are most typically felt when we learn a new skill or a new language for example.

Bliss really is ignorant!

Conscious Incompetence

After saying yes to learning a new skill or a new language we quickly become aware that we have no idea of what we are doing. This is when we become conscious of our incompetence.

This can be an overwhelming moment!

Conscious Competence

After some time of being aware that we suck at what we are doing, we don’t suck at it anymore. We now know that we are good at whatever it is that we are doing but it still takes conscious effort to do it. We are aware of our skill set and can follow it through with confidence but we are aware that we are doing so. This is being Consciously Competent.

The opposite of this is Unconscious Competence.

Unconscious Competence

This is when we do need to be aware that we are doing something, like driving a car for example. Many drivers experience the feeling of having driven somewhere without remembering much or any of the drive they just did. This is Unconscious Competence. We drive on autopilot. We’ve reached the point where we’ve done it so many times that we do not need to be fully conscious to do it, it just happens.

This is a wonderful stage and for most this is where the model stops. I have added a fifth element as I feel it’s an important one to remember.