Best Practice: 3 Levels of Awareness

Photo by  CHEN Dairui

Photo by CHEN Dairui


Purpose: Increase awareness, increase choices.

Our first thoughts are never our fault. It’s what we decide to do next that matters.

How does awareness change us?

When we learn to see, taste, hear, and feel; when we learn to discern and discriminate through participation and observation; when we learn to make distinctions and become an expert; and, when we become intimate with the details of a particular medium from our activity with and in it. Simply put, through practice, practice, practice.

Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey in their book Immunity to Change suggest that we have three levels of awareness:

  1. Initial awareness is gained through reflection after an incident occurs. If we understand what the gap in our behavior is and know what it should be we have a shot at catching ourselves in the act the next time. (we started here)

  2. When we successfully catch ourselves in the moment we get just enough time to make a different choice. 

  3. When we catch ourselves enough times, we can spot a trigger coming rather than having it blindside us into rash reactivity. Seeing a trigger coming gives us even more time to choose a different reaction.

NOTE: You are in and out of these three phases ALL THE TIME based on how triggered you are at any time and how aware you are of your triggers when you are triggered.

Alongside technical skills, people who can master a range of subjective skills are better able to influence, deal with ambiguity, bounce back from setbacks, think creatively, and manage themselves successfully in their pursuit of mastery. Learn more about skills of modern craftsmanship.