Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mastery, Part One

I'll take full responsibility for never really connecting with a master. Sure, there were a dozen unanswered letters and a couple missed connections. Seems the folks I wanted to chat with didn't want to chat back. Still and all, maybe one more phone call or letter or candygram might have gotten some attention.

Instead, I've spent some time thinking about the masters I've had the privilege of working with. Some are master martial artists and master teachers, like Sokei McNeil, O Sensei Phil Porter, Professor Cacoy Canete and Master Lee Sprague. Others are masters of their own profession or avocation, like my grandmother the gardener or Tom's coaching skills.

Through watching and listening, and then thinking about what I heard and saw, here is what I've learned about mastery from my time with these folks.

Unconscious Competence. Masters own what they know. They own it so well that they do amazing things without apparent effort. What's more, they own it so well that when some dumb rookie challenges their opinions, they aren't threatened. They simply answer the question as if it actually made sense to ask.

Humility. Masters spend time in the presence of other masters. They spend time contemplating their subject, which is always bigger, older and more significant than they are. This breeds humility. And humility breeds kindness and patience.

Love and Enthusiasm. Simply put, a Master loves what they study. They would have to in order to stick with it long enough to become a master. This love and enthusiasm are infectious, energizing those around them and inspiring us to learn more.

Comfort with Self. Truly owning a skill breeds confidence. This confidence becomes a part of somebody until that somebody is truly comfortable with who he/she is. This comfort is visible in how a Master treats others, accepts challenges and views the world.

I'm certain there are more, and I hope to become a Master in my own right so as to experience them all some day. But meanwhile, that's what I've perceived from the outside looking in.

Thanks for listening.

1 comment:

reno77 said...


Love this post. Good work.