Hone your craft.
I love that phrase. It conjures up just the right combination of humility, passion, competitiveness and drive.
As an artist — an author, a designer, a filmmaker, a musician — when someone says “hone your craft,” it makes sense. Keep writing. Make more films. Practice. Study others. Do whatever you do to get better at what you do so you can create in the way you want to create. It will help you create better work that more people love. You may win an award, write a best selling book, sell more albums. Either way, as an artist, you know what it means to you to hone your craft.
If you are an athlete, you also know what it means. Practice more. Play more. Study film. Get coaching. Compete. Get better at your position, your sport. Practice some more. You may win a championship, a gold medal, or get a top ranking.
But what if you’re not an artist or an athlete in a traditional sport? What if you don’t know what your craft is exactly?
Two documentaries I watched in the last month really struck me as relevant to this question. One was called The Motivation, about professional street skateboarders competing for the world skateboarding championship. The other was called Good Game, about professional video game players competing in Starcraft 2 tournaments.
I didn’t even know there were televised world championships in skateboarding and video games. The central players in these two documentaries were as dedicated, passionate and hard working as any athlete or artist in any field. I could have been watching professional football players, famous musicians or authors. There was no less skill, pride, hard work, practice and dedication in what they were doing than any other craft.
And after watching these two documentaries and getting to know more about some of the best skateboarders and video game players in the world, it got me thinking. Every single trade, passion, sport, hobby, profession and undertaking has a “championship” or “world class” level.
What if you are a shopkeeper, an entrepreneur, a teacher, a businessperson, a manager of a non-profit, or a researcher? Can you still work to hone your craft? I believe you can. It inspires me, and makes me realize how much more I could be doing to hone my craft.