Mastery, it’s the most glamorous unglamorous word.
Mastery is the celebration of sweaty armpits and red faces.
Mastery is the symptom of failing as many times as it takes to succeed.
Mastery is the glorification of repeating a successful action so many times it’s second nature.
Mastery is learning to improvise on the edge of everything that has become second nature. Just, cause, it makes it more alive, y’know?
Why should you seek mastery?
Well, first, remember this. Mastery is not perfection. Mastery is so far from perfection that a true master laughs in amusement at the comment, “You did that perfectly.”
You shouldn’t become a master because of a desire to achieve perfection. If you do, then the day you’ve achieved mastery will be the day you realize you’ve failed. And you will be very dissappointed. Because mastery isn’t perfection.
To figure out why you should seek mastery you first have to decide what it is.
According to the dictionary, mastery is,
“Comprehensive knowledge or skill in a subject or accomplishment.”
That seems doable. Let’s go with that.
How much better was your world when you learned to walk? How about talk? How about drive? Maybe learn a second language?
Take that answer, and apply it to the skill you’re considering and see if you might imagine a comparable benefit coming out of your new interest. That’s one possible reason of why you should master that skill. God knows it’ll be just as hard.
Are you fascinated by what you’re doing? Or just finding that it’s the thing you like to do?
This is another reason to achieve mastery. This is in relation to the old thought, “Whatever you find yourself doing, make sure you do it at the highest level you can.” Following this idea leads to a life that is at a higher level than if you didn’t follow it. That might sound obvious, but it’s not. In other words. If you like the thing, you might as well do the thing, and you might as well do it well. This is often considered a life approach that is most true to one’s inner child.
Do you like making people’s eyes light up in wonder?
This is another great reason. If you like making people’s eyes light up in wonder. That’s a worthy goal. And mastery of a skill or art can assist you in your desires. But don’t forget your original love. Remember that the reason you are achieving mastery is to make other’s eyes glow. Remember that the real skill you are trying to master is specifically to inspire others (aka, make their eyes glow). Not to do whatever that thing is that you’re doing. If you forget, you will one day wake up and realize you’ve spent the year in your apartment practicing, avoiding others, in order to master something that is only one step in your original desire. And you will be lost. You will have to reset your priorities and try again at the life thing. But keep trying. The ability to inspire others can change the world. It’s a worthy desire.
Basically, if you want to master the thing, master the thing.
If you don’t want to master the thing, don’t.
And if you want to master something else, but you think mastering the thing you are considering now will make it possible for you the master the thing you really want to master. Go ahead… but be really really careful.
I think it was James Altucher who said he majored in writing because he wanted to become a published author and get lots of girls, but instead he just got really good at writing. There’s an amusingly deep lesson there. Don’t assume one thing always leads to another. If you think you have to master something to get what you want, and that thing you’re trying to master isn’t the exact thing you want, be very careful. Because it might lead you down a path you don’t want to follow. If you’re certain it’s connected to what you want, go ahead.
Just make sure you pick one and move on. Waiting around to decide won’t get you any closer to the life you want.
There are a lot of other reasons to master something. But I’m getting bored of writing for today. Plus, I’m in a giant lobby with a bunch of other poor musicians waiting to see if I can get health insurance. My name might be called soon. And what do I know?
I know that mastery has a different definition for every person on the planet. But the results of the pursuit of that mastery are almost universally recognized.
I know that the reasons for achieving mastery are different for everyone. But it’s almost always a good idea to master something for some reason.
It usually comes down to a simple couple of questions:
Do you want to be better?
Will this make you better?
Go ahead, give it a try. You can always eat cake and sleep in late tomorrow. Oh wait, no. You’ve committed to a long-term project with no actual ending that requires you to function at your best at all times. Eat healthy, work out, think long term. And make sure not to have any more fun, ever.
This is a lie, you should always seek to derive enjoyment and meaning from your activities. All things in moderation including moderation. See you at the drinking competition this weekend.
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