The Journey to Mastery

Big Red Car here.  Yes, yes, yes — it is summer in the ATX and it is going to be hot.  But it is going to be cool in the mornings, so get up and out early and then lay by the pool when you can.

You can master the weather by being clever.

Speaking of mastery, The Boss was talking about it to one of his CEO clients and they go to discussing the path to mastering almost anything.

Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers

OK, so I know that you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers which propounds the notion, among a number of interesting gambits, that it takes 10,000 hours to master anything.  Remember we are talking “mastery” here.

His evidence is marshaled and presented and one leaves with the clear sense that Malcolm Gladwell has done it again.

What is left undiscussed is the “journey” to mastery.  Where are you when you have only 500 hours of flight time?  Where are the touchstones along the way?  What does the journey to mastery feel like?

The steps to mastery

The steps to mastery may be as follows [then again, maybe not, I am after all just a Big Red Car WTF do I know anyway?]:

1.  Postulate — a first indication of curiosity;

2.  Novitiate — a beginning of learning with a willingness to invest in learning;

3.  Apprentice — the submission to a master from whom to learn and to apply those lessons immediately;

4.  Journeyman or journeywoman — the ability to do the work at a high level of craft but not quite ready to teach it to others; and,

5.  Mastery — the ability to improve the work itself while injecting creativity coupled with the ability to teach it to others thereby keeping the craft alive.

One can apply this paradigm and journey to single skills, management, leadership and companies.

Where are you?

One of the most important considerations on any journey is the necessity to map exactly where you are at any instant in time.

Where are you?  Are you making satisfactory progress?  Is your rate of  progress adequate?

When you have the waystations outlined as above and have entered them on a map, then you can track your progress.  Sometimes this may be inspiring — wow, I am really making great progress.  Sometimes, they can be a wake up call —-ouch, I am making very slow progress.

The final destination

If a journey is worthy of you, then the final destination if going to be mastery.  But sometimes [take a careful look at the definition of mastery, Grasshopper] you will not get to mastery and that will be perfectly fine.

Part of the final destination of mastery is an elusive concept called “contentment”.  You are content with your lot in life.  Contentment may be fleeting, like hitting a perfect low wind cheating draw once in every round of golf.

It is like the sun casting a shadow.  As it moves across the sky — as life develops — the shadow’s location changes.

Moving the goal posts

As the world develops what once passed for mastery — or any of the waystations on the journey — may be an evolving concept.  The world may have moved the goal posts and your goal of mastery may have moved and you will have to work toward keeping up with those moving goal posts.  That is perfectly normal.

Nobody really masters anything for the rest of time, you must continue to educate and develop yourself to maintain your level of mastery.  And why not, Old Sport?  The world is moving on and you must move with it.

Know where you are.  Be where you want to be.  Keep working toward mastery of those elements of your life that are most important.  Drive on.

But, hey, what the Hell do I know anyway?  I’m just a Big Red Car.




2 thoughts on “The Journey to Mastery

  1. Big Red Car sounds more and more like Master Po each time (Big Grin). Real Masters will know that it’s a cyclical journey. When we achieve mastery, we then discover that there’s a whole new world out there waiting to be discovered yet again. And also a whole new constancy, a new sameness. Real mastery is knowing that we will never truly be masters. As we keep growing, there is always more to learn and assimilate. Maybe the real prize of mastery is mastering ourselves.

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