How do you get them to listen?

Simon A Harling
2 min readAug 12, 2022


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The four stages of competence model, used by psychologists to help explain stages of skill acquisition is helpful.

Unconscious Incompetence. The equivalent of cold calling. The value of your idea, skill, or task is unknown. With kids and novice learners this is a problem.

But problems have solutions.

Broadly speaking coaches show up using one of 3 strategies:

Prestige; “Take my word for it”. The hope is that your clients are star-struck and will follow you’re every word.

Dominance; “You have to do it or else.” Compliance. Bullying is a proven strategy but that doesn’t make it right.

Principled; This approach can be slow, chaotic, and requires an understanding of the creative process.

Here is a simple way to think about it.

A Fundamental Movement skill for kids is jumping and landing. To improve the skill of jumping and landing it would be reasonable to offer kids the task of skipping.

Watch what happens when you leave a pile of skipping ropes on the floor during practise. Some kids will pick them up and excel, a few might try and get bored. The rest will show no interest.

Now you could tell them all to skip for 5 minutes before practise starts. But what happens when you are not watching? The chances are the status quo returns. The kids who love to explore and are curious will play. The rest do something else.

Nothing really changes.

To move from Unconscious Incompetence to Conscious Competence is dependent on the stimuli to learn. Fear, status, and a curious environment are all options. A well-drilled team can look like success but a kid who can think for themselves might just be a better moonshot.

Perhaps a better question might be. How do I get them to care?



Simon A Harling

Coach, speaker, blogger on fitness, coaching & personal leadership