Practicing and Conscious Competence with The Empowerment Dynamic

Published: 20th January 2012
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Living consciously is at the heart of the Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) ™. Making "shift happen" between the victim and creator orientations, along with their related Karpman Drama Triangle and TED* roles and relationship dynamics, requires learning new ways of thinking, interacting and taking action.

"Your life is a kind of learning laboratory where you're constantly experimenting with your own higher knowing, always increasing your capacity to design your life and to choose your response to what happens to you... The question is, are you creating consciously or sleepwalking through your life..." From the Chapter 9 ("Shift Happens) of The Power of TED*

Sustainably making the shifts into a creator orientation and TED* is simple, though anything but easy. Many individuals have voiced disappointment and frustration that comes with learning that such a shift takes time - and lots of practice. "Now that I know about this way of being, why can't I do it all the time?"

That question comes up a lot. And insight into the answer can be found by considering the various stages we all go through in learning a new skill - let alone a new way of thinking and being. The 'stages of learning' framework has been part of my training and development toolkit for a long time. According to a listing in Wikipedia, (from which the descriptions below are quoted) the model was developed by Noel Burch of Gordon Training International in the 1970's.

The four stages can be applied to learning any new skill. Here's a brief description and how the stages of learning will help you shift from the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) ™ to TED*.

(1.) Stage One - 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 to the next stage..." As referenced in The Power of TED*, much of humanity is sleepwalking through their human experience. The default way of thinking and interacting is rooted in the victim orientation, which is problem-focused, anxiety-based and reactive in nature. This results in life experience that is characterized by the DDT.

Movement from this stage requires awareness that an alternative - the "antidote" also known as TED* - is available. The assumption of those who are in this stage is that "this is just the way things are." From this perspective, a "good day" is one in which there is a lack of drama. There is no awareness that there can be a more resourceful, satisfying and empowered way of living life.

(2.) Stage Two - 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."

This is the stage in which readers and workshop participants find themselves. They become aware of the possibility of adopting a creator orientation and are intent in learning how to grow into the TED* roles of creator, challenger and coach. They become aware that there is a different set of skills and ways of being than they were used to in the victim orientation and DDT. Learning is the prerequisite for, eventually, progressing into the next stage.

(3.) Stage Three - 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."

The way that we gain competence and proficiency is through practice. There are many times in which I have to remind people that TED* is "descriptive, not prescriptive." In other words, TED* describes a more resourceful way of being, but cannot be codified into some set of specific steps that, if taken, will result in always living in this way. Each of our lives and our constellation of relationships are different and, therefore, the ways in which we learn to make "shift happen" are unique to our particular life experience.

So, we work the Dynamic Tension between the vision of TED* and our current realities. We try things. Some work and some don't. Over time, we learn from our experience about how to more consistently and consciously apply TED*.

George Leonard, in his wonderful book entitled Mastery, points out that the way of gaining any level of mastery is that we must learn to love the practice itself. In practicing the practice of living as consistently as possible from a creator orientation and relating to and with others through TED*, over time we may find some days in which we actually dip into the final stage of learning.

(4.) Stage Four - Unconscious Competence: "The individual has had so much practice with the skill that it has become 'second nature'." This is my ultimate vision - for myself and for you - that by practicing the practice we live into the capacity to have the TED* ways of being, interacting and taking action become second nature and sustainable.

Given the realities of our human experience - in which there will always be some level of drama that shows up - I don't know if this stage is possible to attain on a sustained basis. In the meantime, let's practice the practice - at work, at home, in our communities, and in all our interactions.


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