Reading this article on speed reading tactics demonstrates some level of desire on your part to master these essential skills to help you overcome your information overload. Congratulations! Although this is a good start, it represents the beginning of your path to mastering a complex set of mental skills that will provide lifetime benefits. Unfortunately, many well-intentioned people give up their attempts too early because they do not understand the nature of the learning process. By understanding the stages of the learning process, you can continue your journey towards mastery when the road gets rocky, and not give up saying to yourself, "it doesn't work."

All learning follows 4 basic stages. They are:

1. Unconscious Incompetency
2. Conscious Incompetency
3. Conscious Competency
4. Unconscious Competency

These 4 stages occur for all learning. A more complex a particular skill-set might be, the longer time duration the road to mastery becomes. Desire for mastery provides some extra motivation to keep working through the rough spots.

Unconscious Incompetency is the first stage. It can be described as "not knowing what you don't know." Most people start their speed reading journey here. All they know is that there must be a better way to handle reading tasks that take too much of their time.

At this stage, someone may do some reading, perhaps using a web search. Soon they become overloaded with contrary information and false claims. They may give up at this point, thinking that, "it doesn't work." Or, they may buy a book, DVD, audio program, or perhaps enroll in a class.

Assuming that the learner chooses the latter approach, they engage with the content, reality sets in. They become aware of the gap in their skills. The learner now moves into stage two.

Conscious Incompetency is when you become aware of how far you are from mastery. You know what you don't know. You start to try to do some things in a new and different manner. You become frustrated and upset that "it isn't working for you." The vast majority of people give up at this stage, especially when learning to speed read.

Because mastery of speed reading is a very complex set of mental, or cognitive skills requiring you to do things in a dramatically different manner than you have in the past, stage two, conscious incompetency, does take more than the 16 minutes that some programs promise before moving into stage three.

When you are in this stage, it is crucially helpful to know that this is where you are. Having a well-designed program with support from a trained expert and coach is essential to move through this stage. Without the support, ninety percent of learners give up learning to speed read. If only they understood they were in this stage! If only they could receive the help needed to move through the frustration and self-doubts!

The sad thing about giving up is that you can easily overcome it with proper practice and coaching, if you have some understanding that this is normal. Learning to speed read with mastery is especially challenging at this stage because it taps into the learner's self-doubts about their own abilities. The key to mastery of learning anything complex, is to know when you need help.

Conscious Competency is the third stage towards mastery where you, as a learner, have had enough practice and experience using the various skills somewhat successfully to start developing some confidence in your ability. You know you are at this stage when you have had some failures and have learned how to overcome them. You know that you are in this stage when you still have to remind yourself of how to do something (that's the "conscious" part). Again, depending on how much practice and experience you have using the skills, this stage can last for several weeks.

It must be stated repeatedly, that to get through the first three stages requires desire, consistent effort, and self discipline. Those are the same qualities that are necessary for success in any worthwhile endeavor. Unfortunately the vast majority of people give up somewhere between stage one and three.

If you are diligent enough to get to stage three, then you will certainly move to the final stage of learning.

Unconscious Competency is the final stage towards mastery. It means you are now fully competent. You don't need to consciously think about what you are doing. It comes automatically and effortlessly. The only way to get to this stage is by going through the first three stages over time.

All learning goes through these four stages. Understanding these stages can help you navigate through the tough times when most people quit.

The guitar virtuoso, Jimi Hendrix, practiced and played the guitar for over 10 years before he became the "overnight success" at Woodstock. I watched a documentary on him once that showed Jimi would literally sleep with his guitar. He kept playing and playing at any time of day or night. Eventually his guitar became an automatic extension of his intention to play.

Because reading success is directly related to life success in business, personal life growth, academics, etc., I'd like to close by challenging you to stretch yourself and discipline yourself to speed reading success and invite you to learn moreGet Free Tips

Author's Bio: 

Ed Caldwell is the creator and publisher of the "Masters Online Program: Dynamic Reading, Memory, and Recall" and other live and web-based learning programs. As former National Director of Instruction and Certification for the world famous Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics program, Ed has 30 years experience teaching and testing new strategies to help people from all walks of life learn to read more efficiently. Trainer, speaker, and writer, he can be contacted at Having trained tens of thousands of people, he has mastered the art of the coaching, especially when learning speed reading. Ed is the creator and president of Productive Learning Systems, Inc, and, Inc. You can learn more tips and truths about speed reading at and download the free eBook, "The 10 Top Mistakes When Learning Speed Reading."