The greater the mastery you have over your expected skill set, the greater the freedom it will provide you with. Also, with mastery, one need not have too many gadgets and tools and all the extraneous stuff. But then mastery doesn’t happen in vacuum, you have to fight it out in the middle. And it is a continuous process. Malcolm Gladwell says you need roughly 10,000 dedicated hours to attain excellence in a domain. Well, it may be less, it may be more. But the real thing is an urge for it. An itch to outdo oneself on a daily basis.
Sometimes you need to sit alone on the floor in a quiet room in order to hear your own voice and not let it drown in the noise of others. You don’t need to justify your love, you don’t need to explain your love, you just need to practice your love. Practice creates mastery. Though you can love what you do not master, you cannot master what you do not love. To become a master at any skill, it takes the total effort of your: heart, mind, and soul working together in tandem. Beethoven said that it’s better to hit the wrong note confidently than hit the right note unconfidently. Never be afraid to be wrong or to embarrass yourself; we are all students in this life, and there is always something more to learn. You must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success. There is no great person in history who gained mastery in a particular skill without first investing so much time into perfecting that skill.
Intentionality fuels the master’s journey. Every master is a master of vision. Eventually, you will hit upon a particular field, niche, or opportunity that suits you perfectly. You will recognize it when you find it because it will spark that childlike sense of wonder and excitement; it will feel right. Once found, everything will fall into place. You will learn more quickly and more deeply. Your skills level will reach a point where you will be able to claim your independence from within the group you work for and move out on your own. You will determine your circumstances. As your own Master, you will no longer be subject to the whims of tyrannical bosses or scheming peers. Humility will allow you to master what you need to learn, and to be fully present when the moment comes to use what you have mastered. In order to gain mastery over whatever you have been called to do, you must look for ways of improving how you do them.
The difference between a student and a master is, the master has failed more times than the student has tried. Those who focus on goals accomplish things. Those who focus on processes achieve mastery. Do it well. If you’re going to watch a movie, watch it well. If you’re going to eat ice cream, eat it well. If you’re going to create something, create it well. People believe that having more is to master, but to master is to do more or equally with less. In its entireness, to master with fewer decreases the odds, yet displays the better man. For when we truly master, we decrease the odds, not increase it. Self-awareness without personal judgment becomes mastery. True mastery transcends any particular art. It stems from mastery of oneself- the ability, developed through self-discipline, to be calm, fully aware, and completely in tune with oneself and the surroundings. Then, and only then, can a person know himself. The most difficult step ever is the first step. It comes with doubts, uncertainties, and all sorts of fears. If you defy all odds and take it, your confidence will replicate very fast and you’ll become a master.
Also Read: Gratitude: A Stairway to Abundance
Mastery is not a function of genius or talent. It is a function of time and intense focus applied to a particular field of knowledge. But there is another element, an X factor that Masters inevitably possess, that seems mystical but that is accessible to us all. Whatever field of activity we are involved in, there is generally an accepted path to the top. It is a path that others followed, and because we are conformist creatures, most of us opt for this conventional route. But Masters have a strong inner guiding system and a high level of self-awareness. What has suited others in the past does not suit them, and they know that trying to fit into a conventional mold would only lead to a dampening of spirit, the reality they seek eludes them. And so inevitably, these Masters, as they progress on their career paths, make a choice at a key moment in their lives: they decide to forge their own route, one that others will see as unconventional, but that suits their own spirit and rhythms and leads them closer to discovering the hidden truths of their objects of study. This key choice takes self-confidence and self-awareness–the X factor that is necessary for attaining mastery.
We must strive to become more daily. We must honestly assess our weaknesses and overcome them. We must work toward the highest possible version of ourselves. This is a worthy use of our time, but it is only when we do so with the ultimate aim of service to our fellow man that we really connect with something greater than ourselves. To contribute to the world in a positive way, this is the gift of life. True mastery, it turns out, is not found in accumulating each and every tool under the sun. True mastery is learning that there are really only a handful of tools, and it is the proper application with correct timing and setting that makes them so useful. The first step to happiness and personal mastery is to start now. The best yardstick for our progress is not other people, but ourselves. Am I better than I was yesterday? This is the only question worth asking. As long as you go to bed at night a better practitioner than the one who woke up that morning, you have succeeded. Your worth should have nothing to do with how your progress stacks up relative to another.