My take on mastery
I have been thinking a lot about mastery, and how it’s better than success, better than money, etc. Lots of good links sent around lately.
But what is it? What is mastery?
It makes sense a little bit when you’re talking about actually making a physical thing, but what about when you’re just trying to build something that doesn’t exist yet? What is mastery for entrepreneurs and inventors and creative types that aren’t dealing with legacy mediums?
There’s no particular medium that I’m trying to master. I’m not trying to become a master at writing, or building iPhone apps, or web apps, or drawing pictures, or taking pictures, or making sushi, or shoes, or, or whatever.
I’m just trying to solve a problem: how do we change ourselves?
Is it possible to view problem solving as a craft? As something towards which mastery can be applied? Or is it something else?
I spent years learning how to build websites, and iPhone apps, and businesses, and philosophies, but ultimately they are just convenient tools that help me get closer to the real goal of solving a problem. I’ll ditch them the second they become heavier than I have the energy to carry.
I don’t feel any better at solving the problem than I did 10,000 hours ago.
I’ve seen several of my own projects get imagined, created, and killed in service of the idea. But that doesn’t make me feel any closer to solving the problem.
It’s like dating the wrong person. It doesn’t get you any closer to dating the right person.
Of course, I’m well aware that there’s no overflowing joy that comes from people pursuing mastery. Everyone feels very much like a soldier fighting a fight, day after day. Some day someone might decide to weave a narrative around it, but it’s really just fighting and more fighting and the narrative is, to the fighter, boring, slow, and never ending.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that feeling bored, slow, or that things will never end means that you’re a soldier.
I may or may not be on the right track. Same with you. You may or may not be a master. You may or may not be on the path towards mastery. If you think you are, you aren’t. If you don’t think you are, you may be, or you may not be.
This is the pinnacle of possibility. Hopefully, it’s enough, because that’s all there is. By the way, if it’s not enough, then you’re on the wrong track.
Something about the Wizard of Oz. Something about zen koans. Something about the journey. Let’s go.