How to destroy the hidden barrier that stops growth

What are the barriers that stop us from learning new things and growing?

Take a look at Noel Burch’s Learning Stages Model below to see if he can help us unravel this mystery. Just think back to how you started learning to ride a bicycle or drive a car.

His model is simple and breaks the learning process into 4 stages. I have taken the liberty to add my own interpretation of these 4 stages as follows:

I. Unconscious incompetence

Blind spots

You don’t see because you simply don’t know or think you know but don’t.

Your EGO prevents you from SEEING

When you think you know everything, you are filled up with pride and this creates “blind spots” in your life that simply stops you from seeing what is right in front of you.

II. Conscious incompetence

The first step is to acknowledge that you are not the “centre of the universe” and you don’t know everything. Yes, I know that can be a hard and humbling experience.

We grow up convincing ourselves that we must know everything, well almost everything. But sooner or later something happens in your life and you come to the realisation of how much you actually don’t know.

This is the critical step in the journey where you finally wake up and realise that you are not in control and don’t know everything.

This is known as beginner’s mind.

III. Conscious competence

Practice makes perfect. 10,000 hours or 10 years of deliberate and sustained practice will make you an expert according to Malcolm Gladwell.

IV. Unconscious competence

This is where you reach mastery of your art and has been described as being “in the zone” or “flow”. Flow is defined as:

Being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost. – Mihály Csíkszentmihályi

How far you decide to take your learning is entirely up to you but remember to always have a beginner’s mind.


Learning to live with eyes wide open

Perception is REAL.ity

Our perception determines how we [view, understand and experience] reality.

We don’t see with our eyes but our brain and create our own virtual reality that exists only in our minds. 

We interpret the world around us through various lenses. Our upbringing, values, culture, race, nationality, age, religion and many other factors combine to determine how we see ourselves and the world around us.

So how do we see?

“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:22-23‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Our eyes are windows. We see ‘through’ them rather than ‘with’ them.

Learning to live with eyes wide open

Self-examination and humility allow us to become aware of our ideas, thoughs and perceptions through which we view, interpret and respond to the world and those around us. 

We must become aware of what is on our mind and what we choose to focus on as our thoughts determine our destiny.

“The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we will allow our minds to dwell upon”. Dallas Willard.

The ultimate guide to choosing the best presents this Christmas

Finding that perfect present is like finding parking at a busy shopping mall on the weekend before Christmas. It’s more often than not a painful process.

The many choice available today in stores and online make finding that special something more difficult.

There is however one priceless gift that everyone longs for and needs but is somehow in very short supply these days – our presence, time and attention.

We have unfortunately chosen to live our lives on autopilot, constantly distracted by things around us be it work, play, entertainment, social media, etc. and forgotten how to be present to each other for a real conversations to take place and relationships to grow.

Presents vs Presence?

Rather than buying more stuff, why not set aside time to do something together and grace each other with the most precious gift we can give – our presence.

“If you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

How to accept difficult things that cannot be changed

Perception is reality

Our perception determines how we [view, understand and experience] reality.

We interpret the world around us through various lenses. Our upbringing, values, culture, race, nationality, age, religion and many other factors that combine to determine how we see ourselves and understand the world around us.

Self-awareness is the first step to freedom

Becoming aware of our perception and hidden biases is a continual process of self-examination. It is hard as it requires humility and the willingness to admit that you could be ‘looking’ at things through the wrong lens. But it is a necessary step if we want to grow and mature.

How we perceive and see our pain and suffering will determine how we respond to the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in along our journey.


Being able to accept pain and suffering as part of our universal human condition is the key to moving forward when we have done everything humanly possible.

Acceptance can keep us sane even when we do not understand all the reasons why this event has happened. This attitude gives us the freedom to CHOOSE how we respond to the situation we find ourselves.

The Serenity Prayer by theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr captures this balance between grace, courage and wisdom that we need as we travel through life.

God, give me grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Taking, as Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,

If I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.


Are you your own worst enemy?

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I may be my own worst enemy and toughest critic. I always have high expectation of myself and when I fail, I judge myself mercilessly…

If you can relate to that feeling then you are not alone. I can and I find it easier to forgive others and accept their faults and failures rather than my own.

Hey, hold on that can’t be right. Why would I even do that?

I know that I should love others as well as I love myself.

But how can I if I haven’t learnt to love and accept myself?

What is self-compassion?

With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend – Dr Kristin Neff

Dr. Neff has done pioneering research into self-compassion and speaks about it from her own experience as a mother of an autistic child. She does a fantastic job explaining what it is and how it differs from self-esteem in this TEDx talk.

I confess this was an eye opener for me. Sure I knew this was right but to have research back it up as well. I was blown away.

Self-criticism vs self-compassion

I need to stop judging myself so harshly and start practicing self-compassion. This is a prerequisite to being able to love others.

I have to love and accept myself first before I can reach out and love others.

I owe it to myself to love myself.