The 4 Categories of People

The 4 Categories of People

Over the past 25 years, I’ve worked with thousands of people. Their health, fitness, and performance typically fit into one (or a combination of) the following categories. These are the 4 categories of people. 

Category 1: Unconsciously Incompetent (Thanks, but no thanks).

People in this category don’t know what they don’t know. They may be frustrated by certain aches, pains, issues, and ailments. However, the pain of these frustrations isn’t great enough to spark action or change. They are blissfully unaware that their daily actions and habits are negatively impacting their health, happiness, and well-being.

Unfortunately, many people never leave this category. Partly because their mind isn’t open to other options and opportunities to existing in a different way. Out of the 4 categories of people, this can be one of the most dangerous (health-wise)

Rarely does more information and encouragement help. At FRESH!, we have a saying that goes, “People won’t change until they are ready to change”, or “people won’t change until the ‘pain’ is great enough”.

Category 2: Consciously Incompetent

This category of people can see a different way of existing, but they aren’t sure how to make it happen. They often act from a position of desperation and latch on to any program or challenge with a “quick fix” marketing message.

This is often because people in this situation have reached the point where “the pain is great enough” to open their eyes and minds to an alternative.

This is typically the most frustrating and high-stress category because you know you want to change, but are frustrated by trying to find a solution.

The great news is that this is the area where training, coaching, and learning interventions can make the biggest difference.

Category 3: Consciously competent

This category is important because people start figuring out some of the fundamentals. They are getting some results, but it feels like A LOT of work to sustain.

The challenge with this phase is that because it’s hard work to think about everything, the risk of relapse to earlier stages is higher. They may get frustrated by the effort and decide the results aren’t worth it.

Depending on their mindset during this phase, people in this category may either stick to what’s (sort of) working for fear of regressing or grasp at straws in an attempt to see results faster, without thinking through the most effective plan.

This category makes up a significant percentage of people who are “sticking with” a fitness and nutrition program. They are working hard to ensure they “get to the gym regularly”, and “follow a diet plan” In the 4 categories of people, this one has the potential to be the most transformative.

Category 4:  Unconsciously competent

This category can be perceived in a couple of different ways and has a subgroup unlike the other 4 categories of people.

First, it can describe people who’ve evolved through each of the previous phases. People who have dialed in their actions so consistently that they don’t have to think about it anymore. They just do it naturally.

This is a great place to be. The skills they’ve learned come almost effortlessly. They’ve incorporated the lessons learned and are able to invest their mental bandwidth at evolving other skills through previous categories.

Typically people must shift their mindset and perspective to accomplish this stage. It takes a lot of practice and the consistency of completing this practice over the long term changes who you are and how you think about yourself.

There’s a great quote that has been attributed to both Henry David Thoreau and Zig Ziglar (I’m betting on the former) that says “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals”.

This quote sums up the experience for this first subgroup.

The Second Subgroup of Catagory 4

The second sub-group within unconscious competence are those who are doing many of the right things, and seeing some results but have no idea why. They haven’t evolved through the previous stages or learned the lessons it took other people to get to this category. They’ve just always done it and never questioned the process.

This sub-category of people often gets “stuck”. They are moderately (or even highly) competent at doing a skill. However, the tricky part is that because they aren’t aware of why they are seeing results (or even what those results might be). They don’t know what they could do to get better, apply these skills to other areas of life, or to explain their results to others.

This second group is often content “doing what they are doing”. This is because “they’ve always done it this way”, and “it works…sort of”.

A great fitness example is a person who diligently goes to the gym multiple times per week. They may even enjoy it. However, they don’t get much better over time and haven’t really changed what they do in years. They are putting in enough work to avoid most of the negative issues, and sit in a perpetual holding pattern.

Like category 1, they often get stuck because they don’t really see a problem with where they are. The “pain” isn’t great enough. One downside of this category is that they shake their head or are dismissive of those who find it hard to learn the skills they take for granted.

The 4 Pillars

The interesting thing about these categories is that we can be in multiple different categories between various areas of life. You may be in Category 4 for fitness, but a different one for nutrition, sleep, relationships, or even specific skills in each area (i.e. running vs. Olympic lifting).

I encourage you to think about both the things that frustrate you and those skills you take for granted because you can do them well.

Think of them as developmental stages that you can evolve over time, and remember, they apply to learn and skill development in any area of life.

Category 4 is where we all want to be. However, most of us fall short in key areas of our health and fitness.

So why do most never make it to Category 4 in more areas of life…

They Don’t Know how to Master their 4 Pillars of Personal Performance:

  1. MINDSET: You must know your WHY and be bought into the change process
  2. HABITS: You must have a plan that includes your key success habits
  3. MOVEMENT: You must understand and harness the movement spectrum in your life
  4. FUEL: You must learn to stop thinking of calories and instead fuel your body for performance

Many people KNOW these things…but they don’t apply what they know.

If you fit into one of those first 3 categories and you want my help get to Category 4, contact us HERE and tell me a little about your goals and challenges. and what you’d like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details!

If you would also like to learn more about the 4 Pillars of Personal Performance, I recommend you check out my book series, The Fitness Curveball! Click the link below to get yours today!

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