Unmasking my Unconscious Competence… Making my Practice Conscious

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
Marcel Proust 

How do you have new eyes about your work?

Just the other week, when Jill Langer and I were delivering the Day 2 of the Bikablo Basic Virtual Training course, I facilitated an activity for folks to:

  • discover what they remembered from Day 1
  • see how quickly they could access and re-create/apply the learning
  • observe how they would handle a new layer of complexity

all within a very short timeframe.

It was challenging! Their responses to the experience were swift and clear. It was an eye-opener for most of the folks who had been quite sure in their skills and the habits they had developed since the Day 1 training.

In general, I don’t seek to ruffle people’s feathers, and that’s certainly not the intent of the exercise though it was an unintended consequence for some. I was a bit concerned when I heard how surprised they were by their results (I won’t share some of the colorful language), then I was relieved to see that it provoked them to reset their thinking and primed them for learning with new eyes.

What might you look at/see differently today?

This experience reminds me of a colleague, with many years in the field, who joined one of my bikablo trainings. She had trained with other folks and had used bikablo’s picture dictionaries for years, yet when she took the course she told me that she learned so much more. The concepts and the nuances—that make the method more than looking at a book—the conversations, interactions, and the direct and specific feedback about her work, were defining differences. 

What comes easily to you? What’s a part of you, and therefore, more difficult to see?
What do you know so well that you don’t think about it,  much less question how you do what you do?

What’s easy for me is making a banner. I make it the same way every time— it is second nature, I’m unconsciously competent in drawing it. I love my five steps to banner-making! Surprisingly, when I watched Jill (Langer) draw the same banner in our virtual training, she did it completely differently! I thought that she and I learned it at the same time and in the same way (at the first bikablo Train the Trainer event)—apparently not! I was intrigued. Maybe her way was simpler for folks?! It was amazing and definitely got me thinking about how I do, AND  what I do without being aware of how I do it!

I’m currently taking the bikablo Train the Trainer course for e-xtraklasse, a brand new offering, that will deepen participants’ skills through small group coaching and an extended format. Re-viewing, literally re-seeing, what I have learned and taught in the bikablo Basic Day 1 and 2 courses, and taking it to the next level of sophistication, is such fun—and intensity! I have new eyes for my work! 

Look at those wild ascenders and descenders!

What is challenging for you, so much so that you still think about it often?

I am working to change the way I make a few of my letters—specifically the “a” and the “e”. And, I have to watch my ascenders (“f” and “t” particularly) and descenders (“g”, “j” and “y”), as my expansive writing can be too large for the spaces I need to work in. I pay attention to these letters as I write—which is both good and, at times, tiresome. I will create the new habit over time and increase my speed and decrease my need to attend to what’s different. I can’t wait until that happens!


This question, about habits that I do unconsciously, is relevant to all areas of my life:

  • how I show up in meetings—as leader, co-creator, and/or follower.
  • how I start a project
  • the questions that I ask new clients in Strategy Sessions
  • how I approach collaboration
  • how I plan my free time

How about you? What do you think of how you do what you do? Once you take a look at your habits, which will you embrace and which will you discard?

My thinking is, that I need to “be the beginner”/have beginner’s mind. Be present to possibilities, and shift away from habits that narrow the breadth and depth of my thinking.

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few. 

Shunryu Suzuki