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Encountered

To encounter something new is to experience it for the first time. Is this your first time seeing someone ride a bike or observing a heart surgery? Is this something that you would like to learn for pleasure or for your occupation? It all starts with that first encounter. The process is usually an instance with little to no invested time.

Acquainted

After a new thing piques our interest, we may choose to better acquaint ourselves by reading casual articles about it or discussing it with others. This can take us a few minutes, hours, days, and sometimes weeks. It really all depends on the complexity of the subject.

Studied

Eventually we may decide to truly invest ourselves and study a subject with the intention of using that knowledge. We should prepare ourselves for the true amount of time it will take to learn a thing. It helps to identify key resources—sometime through the help of a mentor—to make the best use of our time. This can take anywhere from days to years, which is why planning is quite important. Be prepared to need more study than you expected initially. Sometimes a little study is all you need to reliably sell your work, while with others it is grossly incompetent or potentially illegal.

Experienced

Experience comes with practice, which will overlap with continuing study and education. In fact, you should never stop learning about something you actively do. Your apprenticeship or applied learning might be in a controlled environment at first, but you eventually need real-world experience—particularly if you intend to do something professionally. This process will take weeks, months, and often even years depending on the breadth and complexity of the subject. At this point you can responsibly sell your services in most cases.

Mastered

It is said that to become a master of something takes 10,000 hours—or about 6 years of a full-time effort. I would argue that mastery is dependent on the subject and how you use that knowledge. If you find yourself at the forefront of a field, teaching others, creating things no one has seen before, then you might consider yourself a master. Granted, different vocations or trades will hold more official titles, which should be considered. Let’s just say that mastery usually takes years, but with some simple things, may only take a few months. When you have mastered something, you should be able to work more efficiently and your services will be more highly valued.

Enterprise Technical Consultant & Solutions Architect