Mastering the Process of Visual Thinking

The process of mastering any new skill or subject area takes time, requires patience and self-discipline, and a deep commitment to the end goal — supported by a solution focused resilient attitude that knows no bounds.

When it comes to visual thinking, it’s unpractical to expect that you will become proficient and fully knowledgeable immediately — or only after a short period of time. Learning is a process that takes time and dedication. However, it is something that will reward you in a multitude of ways in the future.

Today I would like to help you better prepare your mind for the process of learning how to think visually. As such, we will go through the stages that you will most likely move through as you begin your journey towards becoming a visual thinking magician.

The Four Stages of Competence

Within the next post I will discuss the five stages of your journey towards mastering the process of visual thinking. However, first and foremost I think it’s important to make mention the four stages of competence — originally developed at the Gordon Training International by Noel Burch during the 1970s.

These stages of competence provide a model that explains the four distinct stages of learning that lead us to the successful mastery of a particular skill or area under study.

The four stages are categorized as follows:

  • Unconscious Incompetence
  • Conscious Incompetence
  • Conscious Competence
  • Unconscious Competence

Here is a brief description of each stage and how it relates back to the process of visual thinking.

Unconscious Incompetence

At the Unconscious Incompetence stage you simply do not know much — or anything at all — about visual thinking, and therefore cannot even comprehend the power of this tool, and how it could potentially help you to improve your critical thinking, creative thinking, and problem solving abilities. To put it more simply: you simply do not know what you do not know.

Given that you’re reading this article, it is probably safe to say that you’ve moved beyond this stage and you’re fully aware of the concept of visual thinking and the key advantages and benefits it can bring to your life.

Conscious Incompetence

At the Conscious Incompetence stage you begin to recognize that there is something missing in your life — a lacking need or a desire for more. You realize that there must be methods and skills you can learn to help improve your ability to think critically and creatively.

You understand that there is a gap between where you are and where you want to be, and that visual thinking can help bridge this gap. However, even though you recognize the value of this new skill of visual thinking, you do not yet have the ability or visual thinking experience to bridge this gap.

Given that you’re reading this article, it’s more than likely that you’ve reached this stage along your journey. However, as I begin breaking down the framework for visual thinking in future posts, and you start applying these techniques and methodology into your life, you will naturally progress to the next stage and beyond.

Conscious Competence

At the Conscious Competence stage you fully understand and know how to use and incorporate the principles of visual thinking into your life. However, to demonstrate this new skill and the knowledge you have acquired requires time, a lot of effort and concentration. Here, you are not yet comfortable with this skill, but do make a conscious effort to apply it into your life.

You will reach this stage of competence by reading and applying the visual thinking principles and elements I post on this blog into your life and business. However, to truly master this process takes time, effort and a lot of practical experience — something you would get by attending a visual thinking workshop.

Unconscious Competence

At the Unconscious Competence stage you’ve had many months — if not years — of practical experience using and incorporating these visual thinking techniques and principles into a large variety of situations. As such, the skill has now become second nature, and can be performed easily and effortlessly, no matter what problems you’re confronted with.

At this stage you’ve mastered the process to such an extent that it has become as easy as driving a car — you no longer have to think about it because your level of proficiency is beyond what is required to bridge the gap between your current and desired reality. Moreover, you now have the ability to teach this skill to others with supreme confidence and conviction.

This is of course the end goal — the stage that I would like to help you attain, so that you can fully capitalize on the key advantages and transformational qualities of the visual thinking process.

The Five Phases of Visual Thinking Mastery

Within the next post, I will break down the five phases of visual thinking mastery. I will outline the process you will go through as you move from a visual thinking novice to a visual thinking expert. We won’t yet be breaking down any visual thinking techniques at this stage. Instead, I will simply help outline what to expect as you move towards expertise status within the visual thinking arena.


Everything you read here is part of ongoing research and experimentation within the visual thinking arena. The goal is to create a comprehensive framework for visual thinking that encapsulates creativity, problem solving and critical thinking skills. Your comments, ideas and suggestions are most welcome.