I’ve been reading a lot lately, about mastery. Not a word I’ve spent my life with, but recently I’ve been encouraged to examine it more closely. Do I have a grasp of it, do I have a knack for it?
And what is the secret to mastery? Is it some talent I don’t have, or simply working very hard, very focused – without disabling distractions, without negativity creeping in, without questioning the value and merit – to stay the course of continual improvement? Given aging and parts that wear weary, I better!
Is there mystery to mastery, or is it simply a focus on doing things that matter with focus, with excellence as not only the method, but the outcome?
I came across a quote from John Updike which seems to fit nicely here: “Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.”
While Updike was speaking about art – in particular his form of art, writing novels and opinions, I can’t see a problem transferring this thinking to anything else. From stooping to tie a shoe lace, to going to the moon – to celebrating magic and learning in children or having older dogs learn new tricks.
What can’t we master?
If we can do it, we can master it.
I’m not, for instance, saying I can be a scratch golfer – but I can be one who believes and proves that he can par every hole. Doing that is mastery. While doing it all in the same round might be closer to a miracle in someone’s mind, it is a belief that I can that keeps me coming back. It is a belief that I am 175 pounds that keeps me coming to the gym, even though the scale still says I’m 25 pounds away.
Foolish goals fail, or make us feel foolish.
Bold goals, positive change-goals, improvement goals …. those, I think, take us down a path to mastery. Staying on the path is the trick.
column written/ published from Calgary
morning walk: 10C/50F, mild breeze, clear and glorious! … Gusta chose shorter grass (so nice to not have to wipe down a soggy-dog) and early traffic was light when we walked very early before dawn woke/broke.
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