The majority of your skills and abilities are not conscious. You act at a subconscious level, having learned certain behaviors and abilities until they became automatic responses.
Consider for example, sports. Take any sport you enjoy and can do fairly well: tennis, football, basketball, ping pong, and break down the process involved in playing.
I’ll use the example of throwing a javelin. In order to throw a javelin, you have to hold your hand properly, hold the javelin level to the ground, run in a certain way, and step a certain way before throwing.
When you play, do you consciously think, hold my hand this way, stand that way, step one, step two? Probably not. You just play.
When I first started throwing the javelin or playing ping pong, I practiced each individual step and learned how to put the steps together. After enough practice, the motions became natural to where I didn’t have to think about them. I had mastered unconscious competence.
The way that NLP guru Tony Robbins explained unconscious competence was
You don’t have to know how the electrical wiring in a wall works in order to flick on a light switch.
You don’t have to know how to garden or harvest apple trees in order to pick the fruit.
What he means is not to think too much about the whys and hows of why and how things work, just to know that this is what you do.
That’s life. That’s magic. Don’t think about it. Just do it.
Of course at some level unconscious competence is a ridiculous notion because the more you know about gardening, the more you can improve upon your gardening techniques to improve the productivity of your garden. You need to know the proper weather and season or proper soil mixture. You need to know how to properly water a plant and how much sunlight it needs. Likewise, you need to know how to prune your plants and what fertilizer to add. The list can go on and on.
That’s a different metaphor that we’ll talk about later.
The main point of unconscious competence is to learn how to act not based upon consciously focusing through our intellect but working with subconscious power. Remember that the majority of who we are is subconscious and our behaviors and talents come from the subconscious. Consider the creativity of dreams or how many ideas come when you’re in a relaxed state. If you sit down and try to be creative, you won’t get anywhere.
Real magick works not by fighting with your subconscious or actively focusing on how much you want your life to change but by letting go and letting your subconscious do the work for you.
Here are some examples to practice with before you even get started with using magick:
Watch a clock – not a digital clock but one with a face. Watch the second hand tick for one minute. How long does that minute take? It’ll feel like forever. Now set up a timer for one minute and walk away. How much can you get accomplished before your time is up?
Boil a pot of water. Stand there and watch the pot boil. How long does the pot take? It’ll feel like forever. Now restart the boil and walk away.
Think about downloading a movie from some type of filesharing program. If you haven’t tried it yet, the process can take a considerable amount of time. If you sit there and watch it download, you’ll drive yourself bonkers. Set up the program, walk away, come back and check in a little while, and stop the program in a day or so when it’s done. (I set up my filesharing before I go to bed or before I go to work so when I wake up or come home, the majority of the work is done).
Part of the trick is managing your psychic work. If you sit and watch your life, it'll take forever, but if you walk away and never check up on things to make sure they are working properly, then your life will go astray. An unwatched pot can burn the house down. Downloading files might get stuck and stop downloading.
Ask the local library to order a book for you. Asking people to do other things may be the hardest part of unconscious competence because you are relying upon someone else to do something for you. Many managers make the fatal mistake of trying to do everything themselves because they don’t trust the ability of their employees. Doing everything yourself will kill you so you have to learn to delegate responsibly. Notice responsibly. The hardest part of delegating is wondering if people will come through or fail. If they come through, the end result is that everything gets done while you are doing other things. Imagine if you could make money this way, while sleeping or golfing? You can.
I'll admit that delegating responsibility has always been hard for me because of how many people have failed me. The key is learning what is reliable and what isn't. It's a lesson learned in time.
Demons are servants who haven't been whipped into shape. They want to be obedient but don't know how. They resist and sabotage until taught how to behave.
Unconscious competence begins with small practice steps establishing a routine and repeating information until it becomes subconscious.
Decide upon your overall goal.
Divide your goal into smaller steps. Start with the first step. Do it. Even if you totally suck or fail, just do it. Practice for maybe 20 minutes and then move on.
The next day, practice again. You need to practice at least every 24 hours. Keep practicing the first step until you feel you’ve got it. Start the next step and repeat your 20 minute practice every 24 hours.
(As a side note, you might be thinking, but don’t athletes practice for hours a day? Yes, but they practice different things. A full practice in baseball won’t focus on hitting the ball for two hours but hitting, throwing, etc)
You’ll find that once you’ve got it down pat, you will do it naturally. What’s most important about doing it naturally is to relax. In order to do it naturally, you can’t think about it. Do you think about walking? No, you just do it. If you think about it, you lose your instinct and automatic reflexes.
I bought Heelies, those fagly sneakers with roller skates on them. I figured it would be easy to use them because I have been roller skating since I was a child. Wrong.
My first time wearing my Heelies, I couldn’t skate more than a couple feet. I would lose balance and fall. I would drag my foot and not go anywhere. I couldn’t skate on them because I had to lift and balance my feet in a certain way or else fall or drag.
I spent the first 20 minutes in-between two cars trying to skate. I would take a step, lift my toes, skate a couple feet, stop, and then walk back to the starting line.
Once I learned how to balance myself, I left the cars and started skating for longer distances. This was difficult because I was so afraid of losing my balance that I would stop whenever I went too fast. I had to conquer my fear of falling. I took a walk around the block and took small skate steps as much as I could.
Once skating became more natural, I practiced skating downhill. It was difficult because I was focusing too much on balancing my heels and toes. I was dragging too much and would lose my balance too easily. I skated down as far as I could and then walked back up. Each time, I would consciously say, lift my left toe, balance my right toe. I repeatedly focused on getting the motions down. Skate down, walk up, skate down, walk up. After 20 minutes of repetition, I stopped thinking about the balance and started doing it.
My next goal was for longer distances.
The process of continuously developing and expanding one’s abilities to better standards is called stretching. What makes magick so difficult is that it often sets up unrealistic expectations. Unrealistic expectations occur when one sets out to do something that is beyond one’s abilities. Common examples include many weight loss programs. As long as you weight train three days a week, do cardiovascular exercise three days a week, and maintain a balanced diet without any fluctuation, you’re guaranteed to lose weight and build muscle. Got it. Now go try it. Good luck. See you later. Plans are only good on paper; the minute they are put into action, they fall apart.
Start with something you can do. Start with the most important component of your goals. For example, diet is more important than exercise, cardiovascular more important than weight training. Work on your diet first. Once you have your diet down pat, work on cardiovascular exercise. Once you have your cardio down, move to weight training. Once you’re able to bench press fifty pounds, go for sixty.
Stretching simple means upping the ante. Once you feel you have the hang of something, try to do something harder.
Imagine all of the things that you can’t do. Find something marginally beyond your ability. Try it out. Push yourself to go a little further in small steps.
If you walk a mile, walk another block or two.
You’d be surprised at what you are capable of.
A good example of stretching is in the movie Unbreakable where Bruce Willis’ character David Dunn is lifting weights. His son keeps putting on heavier weights without Dunn realizing it until he finds out that he is benching a ridiculous amount of weight.
But if you find that you cannot do something harder, fall back and do something easier until you are ready to proceed.
All too often the biggest limitations on our performance are ourselves (and often other people). Having worked with the disabled, I’ve seen mindless vegetables do relatively impossible tasks that others had written off as beyond their capability. This is known as the Pygmalion effect, whereby people perform up to the expectations that other’s place upon them.
Don’t concentrate on it. Just do it and practice it. The skills will come surprisingly. You’ll wake up and say, wow, I really did this. I’m doing it.