A simple but powerful understanding of mastery
Have you ever met someone who’s achieved mastery?
I’m not talking about people who are just good at something. I’m talking about people who are great and sometimes, even the best at what they do. The people I’m talking about have mastery, truly. To the point, where others are amazed—maybe even in awe.
When I ask people to think about these kinds of individuals, they usually think of athletes, artists, and musicians.
It makes sense, since these are the people the media shine the spotlight on. Well, at least most often.
But mastery exists all around us. All kinds of people master all types of disciplines.
There are people who’ve mastered parenting, marriage, engineering, counseling, running a business, and of course, freelancing. And the list could go on and on.
Introverts are known to achieve mastery quicker than most. We typically have enough curiosity, patience, and focus to master anything we set our minds to. All of the precious alone time we enjoy helps too.
The limits of Mastery
It’s tempting to try and master everything we do in life.
Oh, believe me, I’m guilty of trying to master everything: Dancing, coding, writing, selling, music, sports, business, and I could go and on and on.
I’m sure you’re guilty of trying to master more than you can too.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting mastery. Actually, I believe it’s a great trait to have. More people should aim for mastery, in my opinion.
But the reality is that few of us can master so many disciplines—at least not all at the same time.
If you feel the need to master everything today, you’ll drive yourself crazy. Believe me, I know the feeling.
With life being so busy and happening so quickly, it only makes sense to be picky about what we set out to master right now, in this very moment.
This begs the question: How should you choose what to master?
3 Categories of disciplines you can master
There are 3 categories for the disciplines you can master:
- Things you should master.
- Things you want to master.
- Things you need to master.
You master some skills because they’re part of a bigger discipline you’d like to master. Some masteries are for pure pleasure. Other masteries are essential.
Let me give you an example that will help you understand the difference between the three and simultaneously speak to you as an Introverted Freelancer.
You believe in earning a living, so work is something you should master.
You could earn a living doing many things, but you’ve chosen freelancing as your choice of weapon and work. So freelancing is something you want to master.
Your freelancing won’t work if you can’t sell anything, though. So, selling is something you need to master (unless you plan to outsource it, but most freelancers don’t).
We tend to procrastinate on things we need to master, spend lots of time on things we want to master, and really believe in the things we should master.
I can’t prioritize or tell you which disciplines you should focus on mastering, but I hope understanding how to categorize them will help you prioritize and focus on the most essential ones.
Mastery is twofold: Science and Art
There are two sides that make up mastery; There’s science and then there’s art.
The science side of mastery is what you spend a ton of time reading about online and taking courses on. You know, the theory, how-tos, and latest trends.
You can learn the science of anything, really. And it’s usually the best place to start your journey in mastering a discipline.
The science of mastery is an education and understanding of how things work in a discipline.
But then there’s the art side of mastery… And it’s a bit more tricky. It’s not something you can really learn from anyone. The art in a discipline is something you develop and grow into.
You create, innovate, and play when you develop art in a discipline. It’s the place in which you need to be brave enough to fail.
The art side of mastery is unique to every person. It’s the style in which you put the science into practice.
Therefore, it’s only developed by lots of practice and experience.
Mastery is incomplete without both science and art
The science of a discipline alone isn’t enough. The art of a discipline alone isn’t enough, either.
Until you learn the science and develop the art, you’ll never truly master a discipline.
You can apply this principle to any discipline you should, want, or need to master.
Let’s take selling for example.
You could learn the theory and basics (the science) but you’ll have a hard time selling without developing a style unique to you and your personality (the art).
Or you could let your style and personality (which is art) dominate so much, that you forget to apply some of the basics (the science), which means you’ll never sell anything.
Until you find the balance between the two, you’ll never truly master a discipline. It will never feel easy and natural to you.
Think about it. Think of someone you consider a master in your choice of discipline.
They apply the same principles and theory other people do, but yet, get different results. Much better results, actually. Again, science isn’t enough.
Have you ever caught someone (maybe even yourself) trying to copy their style and mimic them?
But yet, even if you mimic them, your results are still different. Their results are still better.
My favorite example
Let’s talk about my favorite example by discussing the discipline of Basketball.
Michael Jordan truly mastered the game of basketball.
Other players played the game by applying the same theory, principles, and rules, but yet Jordan was still a better player because of his unique style of applying the science of the game.
Anyone could mimic and copy Michael Jordan’s style but they’ll never yield the same results he did.
Although Michael Jordan developed his art in Basketball with time and experience, he still had to play by the rules, which would be considered the science of basketball.
Do you see the balance? Do you see how the science and the art of a discipline helps someone master it?
You’ll see this pattern in anyone you who’s mastered any discipline.
Two questions you should answer right now.
So, I’ll finish by asking you two questions you should answer right now:
- What disciplines have you decided to master this year?
- For each discipline, do you need to learn more of the science or develop your art more?
I’m convinced that if you prioritized your disciplines, focused your time on learning science or developing the art, you’ll truly master the disciplines you should, want, and need to.