Is good enough ok?

Recently I’ve experienced several examples of poor customer service. Counter staff showing zero interest in the customer, just looking at their phone and ignoring me. Or at the hairdresser getting water down my back and even when I said something they didn’t try and help or say sorry. Then at the gym and not caring that the place is dirty – I’ve changed gyms!

I don’t expect people to be perfectionists, and think that can be wrong as well. But what I want is to people put themselves in the point of view of their customer and look to create a good experience.

In the past I’ve done low level work – worked in Woolworths as a school girl and washed up in a café, done basic admin, and in one job i hand wrote cheques all day long, but I always did it to a high standard and smiled.

We may not like our work, we may feel a job is well beneath what we are capable of but we can still do a job well and appreciate the role we play in the bigger picture. I love this quote and it’s worth reading it again if you already know it:


A man came upon a construction site where three people were working.  He asked the first, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I am laying bricks.” He asked the second, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I am building a wall.” As he approached the third, he heard him humming a tune as he worked, and asked, “What are you doing?” The man stood, looked up at the sky, and smiled, “I am building a cathedral!”

Striving for mastery

We can’t all reach the highest standard, we won’t all win the prize for the best at whatever we do but we can continue to learn and develop. Whether it be in your job or a personal activity. Last weekend we were at a 4-day dance festival with 4 hours of tuition each day and an evening dance. It’s now about 18 months since we started dancing, and we go to lessons 3 times a week and regularly go to weekend workshops.

Just like when you learn anything new we struggled to get it together, and felt in this phase for a long time, we never felt comfortable on the ‘social dance floor’, especially Simon who had to lead. But this past weekend has led to a break through, we are feeling freer in our dancing, and enjoying things more. We smiled as we danced! It reminds me of other things I’ve struggled with, such as learning to use a new psychometric assessment, I had to have my crib notes to refer to and felt very uncomfortable if asked a question I hadn’t considered. But I learnt, and improved and got very good.

You may have come across the theory of conscious competence. There are 4 (or 5) stages

  1. Unconscious incompetence

At this level we aren’t even aware that we don’t know something, and we may not see the point of learning something. But this could be the time when we realise that we do want to learn something.

This was us in September 2014, we had just bought a 1950s car, were wearing the clothes and wondered if we should learn to dance. We had been to a weekend event and sat in awe watching the dancers. For you it might be buying a camera and deciding you want to move on from taking snaps.

  1. Conscious incompetence

The next stage is where we are aware of our need to learn something. We recognise that we need to get help to improve. We should also have an idea of where we want to be. This is when we are beginners in learning something and it can take a while depending on the complexity of what we are learning.

Our first term in dance class, everything was so hard, and everyone is the class seemed so much better than us and got things quicker. We later found out that some had already been dancing for a year or more.

  1. Conscious competence

At this point you feel competent, but it takes effort. You have to concentrate and know you still need to learn more to move into the next phase. This is where practice is essential.

This is where we are now. In the dance world we are moving from Improver to Intermediate.

  1. Unconscious competence

When you reach this level, it becomes effortless. You don’t need to think about it, it’s just like walking, knitting or driving. This is a great place to be but you still need to be aware of changes and new material to keep up to date, and for example, with driving to make sure you haven’t slipped into poor habits.

  1. Reflective competence

This is an addition to the model, which I see as going deeper, learning more, revisiting what you already know. I need to leave the dancing analogy to one side now, but this is where I am with my work.

In my professional practice I could have decided not to learn something new, and just continue with what I felt comfortable with, but that leads to stagnation, and growth is important to me. So I continue to read around areas related to my area of expertise and attend conferences and other training events. And in my spare time as you can see I focus on my dance.

I hope this reminder of this model is helpful for you. I’d love to read your comments on my blog – just type your comment below.

Published On: February 6th, 2016 / Categories: About Denise, Career Management, Inspiration /


  1. Denise Taylor February 6, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Seems to be a problem with posting comments, so this is from Ade:
    Really interesting article. As someone who has an MBA in Knowledge Management I completely understand your points on this, more so, now that I just completed a 5 day mandatory course in Promotion of Safe and Therapeutic Services.
    This course is important for nurses in mental health to undertake, to enable them to effectively prevent and manage violence and aggression on the ward.
    I had a previous training in this area but had forgotten a lot of it, so I had to start a new learning process, as a deep understanding of the skills involved in preventing and managing violence and aggression is a key part of my new job. However, I do not see the same level of commitment and desire to attain sufficient competency in providing good customer services in some of the people and indeed businesses that I have come into contact with in recent times. Like Denise, I have experienced far too many poor customer services than I can care to count. This cannot continue. People need to start to complain more and make their voices heard when services provided are substandard. Time for a new customer service movement???

  2. Denise Taylor February 6, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Thanks Denise, this is something I knew already, but it is good to be reminded. You have highlighted them in a different way and my life is now at a different stage. All in all, thank you for sharing, Pascale

Leave A Comment