Gaining Mastery – a Daily Investment
“I would not have a god come in
To shield me suddenly from sin,
And set my house of life to rights;
Nor angels with bright burning wings
Ordering my earthly thoughts and things;
Rather my own frail guttering lights
Wind blown and nearly beaten out;
Rather the terror of the nights
And long, sick groping after doubt;
Rather be lost than let my soul
Slip vaguely from my own control —
Of my own spirit let me be
In sole though feeble mastery.”
― Sara Teasdale
I like that poem. It highlights, for me, my own struggle to gain mastery of my life.
That starts – always – with me coming back to centre, and continuing my work to gain mastery of my self.
What is Mastery?
The definition we’re going for is more ‘comprehensive knowledge or skill in a particular subject or activity’, than ‘control or superiority over someone or something’. Although both can fit, depending on what mastery is needed in your life.
For example, I would like to gain mastery in the area of my professional expertise – Irish heritage – that is a ‘comprehensive knowledge or skill’. I already have authority, both professional and personal experience, and a certain amount of expertise. But I’m not yet at ‘mastery’, to my mind.
Now, this does beg the question of when is enough, enough?
Some folk will tell you that to gain mastery, you need to practice a thing for 10,000 hours and you’ve got it down, but that’s debatable. You can read some of that debate here.
For the second definition, I personally apply that to myself only. I mean, I’ve no interest in control or superiority over someone else. That’s a LOT of hard work right there, even besides the obvious ethical considerations.
And it usually pertains to controlling my ‘negative’ aspects; post-trauma and mental health problems, and all the associated issues that come with that.
So mastery can mean ‘becoming a master’ at something, or ‘mastering’ your personal issues in a positive way. For either of these, doing a little every single day is the right way to get started.
Daily Investment in Mastery
For the first challenge, to become a master in a particular field, requires practice. That seems obvious, but it’s a little more complicated than that.
Practice for mastery requires not just Naive Practice (repeating what you already over and over), or Purposeful Practice (with well defined goals, focus, and regularly pushing past your comfort zone).
To truly gain mastery, you’ll need Deliberate Practice; which is purposeful practice, but with the element of coaching or teaching added to it, through a clear training program with a professional in the established field.
And the second challenge is truly an ongoing thing (for me at least), and a constant process of improving little by little, going off track a bit, and just continually bringing myself back to the process again.
For this, I keep coming back to my daily routines – particularly the Morning Routine.
I can’t emphasise strongly enough how vital a routine is for me, in my quest for mastery of my personal issues in a positive way.
What works for you?