Last week, I participated in a workshop where we learned the value of listening without trying to solve other people’s problems. During the explanation, the facilitator shared a concept that blew my mind: the phases of knowledge.
He used this idea during the workshop to underline the importance of remaining receptive to other people’s feelings.
I had never heard it before, but I found it to be an extremely practical way to understand how knowledge becomes a part of our lives. Today, I want to share this concept with you, so you can use it whenever you would like to learn something new.
Knowledge can exist within us in 4 phases: Blind Spot, Learning, Application, and Embodiment.
The 4 Phases of Knowledge: Blind Spot, Learning, Application, and Embodiment
Each of these 4 phases is experienced consciously or unconsciously.
- Blind Spot (Unconscious): You don’t know what you don’t know. You assume and suppose, but you don’t question the why of things. Simply, you accept reality as it is. You fall into dogmas and go through life without worrying about the effects of your actions on the world around you.
- Learning (Conscious): For some reason, you’ve become aware of your blind spot, and you’re consciously seeking to expand your knowledge. You’re studying, researching, finding ways to unblock yourself. You ask questions, investigate, and become more receptive to new ideas.
- Application (Conscious): You’re crystallizing your learnings from the previous phase. You take what you’ve studied, what you’ve learned, and you apply it to fully assimilate the knowledge. The application of what you’ve learned, in turn, generates more questions. In this phase, you discover your version of the truth.
- Embodiment (Unconscious): You’ve mastered your craft, and now you can execute it without thinking — you apply your knowledge unconsciously. In this phase, knowledge becomes wisdom. You return to not knowing why you know what you know.
If you’re astute enough, you’ll realize that this is not a linear process, but a cyclical one. When you embody knowledge, your mind frees up space to pay attention to other aspects of your life. That’s where you’ll discover more blind spots, and you’ll be able to start the journey again12.
This way of thinking also aligns perfectly with the Dunning-Kruger effect (the inverse of impostor syndrome): “the less you know, the more you think you know.”
The next time you reject an idea, ask yourself:
- Is this my blind spot?
- Is there more I can learn from this topic?
- Will I be able to apply what I learn from this?