The four stages of Bitcoin competence (and one fork)

When it comes to learning something new we all go through 4 stages of competence.

It doesn’t matter if it’s learning how to play the piano, or switching from PC to Mac, or figuring out how the crypto world works.

The 4 stages always apply:

The four stages of bitcoin competence

1. Unconscious Incompetence — We don’t know what we don’t know

This is stage 1, where we are not aware of Bitcoin or anything related to it.

We are also not aware that we have a problem. We live in our centralised world, as we have always done. We may whine about this and that, but overall we’re pretty comfortable.

We fully believe that the Dollar and Euro are worth something and that our money will grow if we just keep saving and paying into our state pension plans. Even if we see the word Bitcoin in front of us, it will not enter our awareness. And if it briefly does, we will reject it as online gambling money for nerds and not even remember it.

2. Conscious Incompetence — Now we do know what we don’t know

This is when we suddenly become aware of a few things that begin to concern us.

We realize we’re not receiving any interest for our savings anymore.
We get a letter from the pension office, informing us how much money we can expect one day when we’re retired. We’re a little bit in shock and discuss it with others, who say, “And by then it’s going to be worth even less than today!”

Wow, we’ve never really thought about inflation that way…

At the same time this Bitcom thing (or what was it called again?) pops up everywhere all of a sudden — even on Grey’s Anatomy!! So we get interested in finding out more, but we’re also very sceptical.

Our concern about our future opened our minds and shook up our belief system just enough to ask some questions.

Don’t be scared, be prepared

Concern is very different from worry or fear, though.

And this is where the fork happens:

If we are hesitant to let go of beliefs we have held our whole life, then this is the stage where fear sets in and makes us reject this new thing. So we — consciously or unconsciously — choose NOT to get involved in it.

When our fear is unconscious, it will make us judge and dismiss this new thing right away as either too good to be true or without potential and we will collect evidence that supports our belief. We will listen to the Dimons of this world and say, “See, I knew it! Bitcoin is a fraud!

But we could also just be lazy and not feel like learning something so completely new. That’s when we wave it off and say, “You lost me at fiat!”and go back to our normal lives where we can stay comfortably slightly-worried about the future.

When our fear is conscious, we may choose not to engage because we’re simply scared of change, scared of the new and unknown, of taking responsibility for our own money, or of trusting ourselves.

Some of us, though, turn our concern into curiosity and action instead of fear, and continue with Step 3:

3. Conscious Competence — Now we’re learning and we’re very aware of what we know

This is where the desire to learn more has truly hit us and we’re soaking up information everywhere or enroll in a course. We know this new crypto world really can improve our lives (give us more freedom, privacy or even more money) and we want to master it.

In this stage we’re gaining more and more knowledge and we’re very conscious of every button we press and pay extra attention to do it correctly.

We have a wallet now and we’re not afraid to use it! (Only a little bit.)

We’re buying our very first Bitcoin, we’re making sure we double-triple-check the wallet address and re-read our notes three times before confirming.

We’ve saved our private keys in several locations, just to be extra super sure.

We’ve been told by anyone who taught us, that…

  • They are not a financial advisor
  • We should do our own research
  • We shouldn’t invest more than we can afford to lose
  • We should buy low and sell high
  • We should never leave money lying around on an exchange
  • We should never ever EVER lose our private keys

So we transfer our new crypto to our wallets, staring impatiently at our screen, crossing our fingers, as we wait for the funds to arrive. Hopefully we didn’t do anything wrong!

And we will make mistakes, but we’re paying so much attention that they will be carved into our memory, never to be repeated.

4. Unconscious Competence — We are not aware anymore of all the things we know now

This is where this former new thing has become an important part of our life that we don’t want to miss anymore.

We’re comfortable dealing with Bitcoin and have found other cryptocurrencies to invest in. We know how Dash is different from Bitcoin for example, or EOS from Ethereum.

We may even earn part of our income in crypto now — whether it is by trading, on Steemit or in other ways.

We constantly find ourselves answering questions of friends who are still in stage 2 or 3. They call us experts! And while answering them, we realize just how much knowledge we have accumulated by now, and how effortless this all is for us.

We also keep telling them, “I am not a financial advisor! Do your own research! Never invest more than you can afford to lose!” Etc…

We also wish it would already be more widely accepted because it just makes things so much more simple, fast and well, better in every way.

And — we know so much about how our current financial system works, that we even find ourselves trying to get rid of our Dollars and Euros, even though in stage 2 we were still so concerned about not having enough of them one day.

Our new motto is:

“Never put all your money in fiat!”


This article was previously published on Steemit and Medium.

Anja Schuetz

Anja Schuetz is a cryptocurrency investor, teacher and mentor who supports beginners in navigating the crypto space safely and confidently. She works mainly (but not exclusively) with conscious women entrepreneurs. Anja has endless patience for beginner's questions and a strong desire to enable you to become financially free, so you can do what you were put on this earth to do, without having to worry about money.