Mastery and Exploration

What to aim for in education

Obi Wan, Star Wars

My Two Cents
I believe that education is about excellence gained through mastery of any subject and creating a love of learning. Education is not about regurgitation — it’s about mastery. Once you get past the building blocks of anything, whether it’s literary form, understanding how to design or build something or even learning ancient history — then it’s about doing something with it. You’re creating. When you have mastered something, → that’s when you can consider yourself educated about anything.

You don’t need to go to school or university for this. Some of the most amazing individuals in history were all self-educated. But school can make it easier and even safer, as you have a consistent, stable and structured environment to learn and practice your craft, whatever it may be. You also have people you can talk to, debate with, get feedback from and share your hopes and dreams with. You may even find lifelong friends who will be there for you in your journey of life through all the ups and downs you face. There’s no price on that kind of friendship and genuine understanding.

Some Things Do Require Formal Training
Of course some things do require formal training and continuous practicum like medical school or learning how to fly a plane or operate spacecraft for example (I like the last part). To be truly excellent at anything though, requires mastery and that in turn, requires repetition through practice till it becomes almost second nature. It also requires an ability to focus and to concentrate and a willingness to keep learning.

Today the ways you can learn are changing as there are courses online, individual workshops and training sessions you can have for practically any subject.

Being an Apprentice and Individual Training
Training with a master in any discipline, helps accelerate any learning you have. I know this from having several tutors as a kid and also actively seeking out mastery in both business and school in any subject I wanted feedback from, as I got older. That ancient practice from workshops in Firenze, Italy to Zen temples in Japan has helped many seekers fine tune their natural abilities through consistent effort, incremental improvement and ongoing, personalized feedback.

When you look at anyone achieving excellence in any field or goal they have again and again, you see this. For me, I like to look at athletes, musicians and artists because I have a natural interest in all three. This could apply though to a business owner or someone in another occupation as well.

For example, if you look at the Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, you see a shining example of this. He literally teaches you how to do it! What more can you ask? I guess all that’s left to say is a big THANK YOU! :)

I’m inspired also by a lot of musicians especially composers like Hans Zimmer or Peter Lindstrom and Thomas Prins. I also draw inspiration from 3-D visual artists like Justin Maller and the excellent drawing abilities of James Jean.

Talent is such a wonderful thing. It’s innate and fantastic. You wake up in the morning feeling really blessed and happy about who you are. But until you express that fully and you practice using any ability you have enough times to master it, your energy is blocked and you also feel frustrated — like you are not living up to all that you can be. It’s true — you are not.

It’s not that every day is perfect for a high performer. Not at all. You can make a lot of mistakes along the way too but you have a goal in mind and keep sight of that always.

It’s just that you keep striving and you set BIG AUDACIOUS GOALS for yourself so that you keep growing and you manifest all your abilities.

The best athletes, musicians/composers and artists have a love of mastery and flow. Achieving that requires repetitive, focused effort and strong self-awareness. That’s a goal to be the best you can be.

Reading Books Expands Your Mind and Options
When you read a book, you enter a person’s mind and the period in which he or she lived. I love to learn and I have enjoyed attending classes in some great universities. I also know though that the majority of what I have learned in life has been on my own and through my mom’s caring effort and discernment.

I am thankful especially as I get older that I come from a good family and a long line of excellence. It has been in my consciousness since I was born. It’s natural and how life is — awesome and amazing through your small yet very positive effort every day!

My uncle was an ambassador and in the foreign service for a long time. He had a huge library and invited me to read books when I was ten and very bored during a hot summer. That changed my life. I learned so much on my own…In fact, the books I read at Oxford University as a grad student were the same ones I read between eight and ten. It was also why I dropped out because no matter how glorious the campus or beloved the surroundings had become to me, I did not feel challenged enough.

Being Honest, Diving In and Enjoying Learning
I love many subjects but design is one of those things that offers a universal application. It feeds my natural curiosity to solve problems and also to make something visually attractive and that fits a person well.

The great thing about design I have found is you can take one to two courses or just teach yourself as I did, and before you know it, you are literally applying it to everything! I love working on things where you are always learning. There is an innocence to that and a playfulness as well, that keeps you honest I feel. It is also my opinion that always learning new things is good for you because you keep growing and avoid stagnation. You can decide what and how much but that state of mind itself liberates you from complacency and brings you back to the joy of childhood exploration when you discover something for the first time.

Creating Something New
So much of education today is about the past — it is not about actually creating anything new. I challenge you to find ways to create something new and original. It could be something small. It could be an a solution to a long-standing problem you’ve noticed. It may even be sharing your ideas on how to teach something better. The act of doing this though helps you think creatively and exercise your brain muscles that may be dormant and untapped. Some small solutions have led to building great businesses because in most cases, businesses start out with a focused idea and solution. They may branch out to related products and services soon after, but they always begin with a solution to an existing problem.

Let Your Natural Curiosity Help You Grow
I hope my sharing these thoughts with you helps you in some way — to seek out and to learn new things and to not be afraid to experiment, to explore, to make and change your opinion on things as you keep learning. Let your natural curiosity lead you on to great things and being all that you can be.