Creativity Pathway #114: Unconscious Competence

In a recent Pathway, I challenged you to think about your creativity, or perceived lack of it. If you do not believe yourself to be a creative or artistically talented person, perhaps it’s time to take a look at your unconscious mind.

In the field of organizational development, we often talk of the stages of learning and, in them, the spectrum between conscious incompetence and unconscious competence. In learning theory, conscious incompetence exists in the knowing that you are unable to perform a task well. The achievement of unconscious competence occurs when you are so successful at performing a task it is “automatic,” with little thought required regarding the actions as you are performing them.

I believe that even those claiming to be “uncreative” during their waking hours have an active “automatic” creativity in their dream states. In our dreams we reconstruct stories, create images, and become things that we could never have imagined consciously. Dreams can be as vivid as a painting, as resonant as music, and as symbolic as poetry.

In The Art of Dreaming, Jill Mellick, Ph.D. tells us, “Dreams prove that in our inner world we are effortless and talented creative artists • superb wordsmiths, mythmakers, fine artists, and craftspeople of simile, metaphor, symbol and imagery unbounded by the cognitive restrictions in waking life.”

It has been said that conscious creations of art come from the same source in our minds as our unconscious dreams. If this is true then, in our dream states, we are all unconsciously competent artists. The ability to create is innately within each one of us and, whether waking or sleeping, there is art to be expressed.

Coaching Challenge: Immediately upon waking, each day this week, consciously stay connected to your creative unconscious competence. Before moving out of bed, even before opening your eyes, ask yourself, “What images remain from my dreams last night?” “What feelings linger from my dream state?” 

“Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose, won’t you let me go down in my dreams?” • James Taylor

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Creativity Coaching Programs and to arrange for a complementary Creativity coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Erika.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Erika Jackson (
LifeTrek Coaching International
Columbus, OH  •   U.S.A.

Telephone: 614-565-9953 • Fax: 208-977-7793
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