I was watching the Daily Creative the other day. I don’t always watch it, but for whatever reason I watched the whole thing.
So you don’t have to watch the 15 minute video (unless you want to), I’ll recap it:
People call in with questions and Chase Jarvis answers them. The first callers question was:
“I’m doing everything I can and yet my work isn’t getting any traction.”
Chase went in a looked at his websites to gather some more information. After taking a look at everything he made three suggestions.
The guy had been a photographer for 2 years, had a portfolio that covered travel, food, and architecture, he had been posting on YouTube for month. His suggestions makes sense.
Shortly after I started working at SUU I got into a conversation with one of the Vice Presidents and he made some passing comment about how young people always want the corner office before they’re 30. He didn’t direct it at me but he was talking about me.
I have some ambition. It’s still hard to admit that. Ambition is both a good and a bad thing. My ambition drives me to make progress and to push myself from where I am to where I want to be. That same ambition clouds my judgement in how long I think it should take until I get there.
As soon as I gain a little bit of skill it feels like I’ve arrived. I can gain proficiency quickly. I can also get comfortable in the task and when I hit that comfort that’s when I get in trouble and all progress stops.
After going through the motions of lifting weights for nearly a year I was doing a set of preacher curls. I don’t know why it was this time that it stood out but I noticed that I wasn’t feeling the lift in my biceps. I can’t say that I ever had. This bothered me. I should have felt burn in my biceps.
I had gotten comfortable in the lift. I was going through the motions.
It took me a few times but I started to focus on which of my muscles were lifting the weight. Turned out it was my back. In order to isolate my biceps in the lift I needed to engage my abs. That stabilized my core and allowed my biceps to do the lifting.
I had read about the importance lifting with an engaged core. But, I had no idea what that meant until I experienced it and felt the difference.
That explains everything.
Even if I watch someone go through an impressive change and come out ahead, whether that’s through weight loss, career goals, making money, or a great relationship. What I don’t experience is the process it took to get from point A to point B.
That’s the root of my impatience.
As much as I’d like to think that I can see someone else’s experience and make it my own. I have to go through the experience myself.
For a long time I would beat myself up about that about not being able to learn from someone else. But that’s my reality. The sooner that I accept that the better off I’d be. Even as I write I still struggle with accepting the process.
This ambition and lack of patience is directly connected to my post about money showing value. Before value can be earned there has be a certain skillset. That skill set comes from practicing over time to the point mastery.
I did a podcast with Peter Sham and mentioned mastery to him and he fought me on it. Told me didn’t think mastery existed. Which I get, the concept that we’re constantly learning and the more we know the more we don’t know. When I say mastery I mean efficiency and proficiency of a skill.
My dad is a nurse anesthetist. While I was in high school the primary anesthesia he provided was epidurals. The first time I really understood what that meant was when we went to the bodies exhibit.
My dad called me over to show me the base of the spinal cord. There are a group of nerve endings that hang down like the back of a mini mullet. An epidural is pushing a ten inch needle through those nerves. If the nerves are hit the person becomes paralyzed.
My dad talks about giving epidurals casually. Apparently, he’s good at it because in high school I a lot more random women tell me how much they loved my dad when they heard my last name (true story).
That level of proficiency takes more that just hobby level skills. He is a master at that task. This mastery didn’t stop him from progressing and getting better.
That’s what I mean by mastery.
My dad didn’t just wake up one day and was great at epidurals. He worked…hard.
It is easy to want everything right now. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like I deserve the reward right now for the work I’m doing or even the work I think I’m going to do.
Most people’s success doesn’t come until their 40’s. Despite living in an information age craft is still a large part of what we do. Developing a craft takes time.
Robert Greene outlines this path to mastery in his book Mastery. It’s well worth the read or the listen. Here’s the five step process path sums up what he covers.
What is it that you’re working on that you hope to master?
What have you mastered already?
What’s your process like?