How to Achieve Mastery?

Cheers to the pursuit of you, and your value.

I modified the the original picture from using a heart illustration in Canva.

A Teacher, as I opine, is someone who knows their craft well enough to make it transferrable. A Master, as an extension, is someone who can create the basics, scratch them, refurbish concepts and inspire others in their field of expertise. Masters are those who can exert an unparalleled influence on their industry with the trust they reap from their expertise.

From my time span as a student, I’ve taken some time to imbibe the surroundings — noticing how problems get maneuvered and pondering about how some people become masters at their craft. In college, I had the good fortune of meeting with experts— a professor who had re-enacted the first flight across the United States, a Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, a Popular Science TV host, the inventor of carbon nanotube p-n junction diodes, and many more.

So, as I paused to think about “gaining expertise”, I also decided to have a look at how famous scientists and architects mastered their craft, eventually making themselves indispensable and their craft immortal.

To stay in line with the “How to” objective of this writing, since I initially started this project for my own self-help, here are some key pointers that I’ve assembled into five broad stages based on my observations:

Supreme Excellence

1. Realization

Consider your path, recourse if need be, but once you step in, stay on track and be real with yourself. Allowing yourself to understand your purpose(s) will enable you to match that purpose to a concrete job, and once that is figured out, you can chart your career in the direction you choose by investing yourself in that field. Only you can get you where you want to go, no one else.

2. Immersion

Immersion is, the longest, perhaps most enduring phase of seeking mastery. Going above and beyond to learn the craft is only the beginning of this stage. At this stage, you internalize your realization and act with intrinsic motivation. There will be minimal rewards for your work, and more often than not, you’ll be an apprentice at the craft. However, inexperience is also a huge blessing. Making mistakes would trigger less of an adverse response and allow you to bounce back with renewed perspectives of the craft. During this time, you could get involved very broadly, especially if you do things just to learn, without expecting a tangible return on investment. Ask if you can help with something, even if that means you take care of mundane parts of the craft. Soon, you’ll begin to bet on yourself and raise your benchmarks, accepting whatever comes your way as an opportunity to establish your name. As the learning curve smoothens out, don’t think of activity as achievement. Strive to find power for your work ethics and observe the masters at work. As your keen instincts pick up on immersion cues, you’ll initiate the process of becoming who you set out to be.

3. Deviation

This is where gains made from Immersion come in handy. When you have aligned yourself in the discomfort zone, and the habits of your craft have become routine, you can do even small things creatively. Creativity spurs alternate ideas, which paves the way to finding your niche. Niche is an area where you shine, since your talent and hard work would match up in this space. Upon gaining confidence in this newfound niche, get set and deviate. In a way, this just means innovate or create fresh plans. Now that you know the fundamentals, enjoy the capacity to generate your style of work or unique ways to tackle a previous or new problem. Not all things in life have instructions and not all who wander are lost.

4. Actualization

If you have come across Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in Psychology, self-actualization, as he defines it, is “to become everything one is capable of becoming”. I think that stirred some thoughts in my head with regards to how we go about our daily life. It makes sense — we first look at the bare necessities like food and shelter, then we look at safety needs, then we focus on love and belonging, above that we value self-respect and esteem, with self-actualization topping the pyramid peak. So, I mused that people who achieve mastery, perhaps sought after actualization. As such, this stage, that comes after creative exploration of your craft, would be the tipping point where you have actively joined the community of experts in your field.

5. Supreme Excellence

Although this isn’t the mindset of a learner, it is possibly a key trait in a true master. Vibrant achievements and marked scholarly work occupy this stage, but persistent recovery from failure could also fall into this category. Since progress is likely when you ease into Excellence, there is a higher chance that your craft is speaking for itself in its ingenuity. By now, you would have established your own space in the realm of your craft.

So, that’s how I perceive mastery is achieved. It could vary from some of the more profound techniques out there, but this is my own grasp of the idea or assessment of those around me and those that I’ve read about.

Personally, I am still dabbling in immersion and absorbing as much as I could from those who are well on their way to actualization and supreme excellence. It’s calming to know that I am working on myself and my goals, after realizing the purpose(s) of my life, even if it gets difficult sometimes.

Cheers to the pursuit of you, and your value.

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. - Albert Einstein

How do you excel at what you do?