Become a Master of Something…

Bruce-Lee

Mastery

  • n.noun
    1. Possession of consummate skill.
    2. The status of master or ruler; control.
    3. Full command of a subject of study.

My oldest son has an affinity for the study of sports video games. Any time he picks up the play station controller he wants to be the best. He wants to be the ruler of the domain of Madden 25, for example, to the point that whenever he gets a chance he practices. He won’t play actual games, but he works on the practice simulation and when he does play he wants to play against the best players that he can to measure where he is in his ability to manipulate the joy stick to do his bidding so he comes out victorious. He doesn’t always win so when he loses, again I see him practicing, working on his game until he reaches his goal. When it comes to his school as well work there are times when he falls short as all of us do, I see a drive in him to not settle for the mediocre. No matter what he does in life I see that he will not settle until he is at the pinnacle of what he is trying to achieve no matter how long it takes. He wants to be the best. He does this in every aspect of his life I have noticed as treks toward perfection in all that he attempts. His journey has not been and will not always be smooth. I have been there to see the barricades, road blocks and short comings, but he has an unwavering faith in the possibility of his ability to achieve.Knowing this, when I see that he is stifled he brushes himself off and continues on his quest to victory.

I admire him because as adults, we have a tendency to place limits on ourselves that we pass on to our children as an infectious disease. Many times we infect them inadvertently because many of us have the “do as I say and not as I do” way of teaching. We as adults often settle because we feel that we have no other recourse. We feel that our time has passed so continuing to press toward a dream is of no consequence when we have a mortgage to pay or an electric bill due. Of course that is reality, but we cannot lose our drive to become proficient in something or many things in our lives. His drive is feeding me. As his father it is my job to nurture his ongoing internal engine and I cannot achieve this if I am not staving to be a master in my own right.

In order to become a master of anything there has to be a realized passion present. No one can become a virtuoso in a field or practice that they are not passionate about it. You can’t even begin the journey if there isn’t at least an inkling of interest. There must be an overall presence of conviction that seeps from your pours to the point that it is etched into the fabric of who you are. This conviction is not always present in the initial stages of development, but as one drives closer to the goal of mastery a passion can develop. Live in the moment and define it. Allow your presence to saturate all that is around you and allow all that is around you to saturate you because in order to become a master one has to first be a student. There in lies our issue. No one wants to be a student any more. Everyone wants to start out as a Master, but a master that refuses instruction is as a flower that refuses pollen.

Many people walk through life thinking that they are already adept in all that they do, but in reality they haven’t buckled down to really learn anything. I mean really learn. When my son gets a new video game he studies it. He hunkers down in his room and for the time allotted to him to play he studies and practices. He jumps in with both feet. This is what we have to do as people. We have to find what we want to gain expertise in and dive in full bodied. Remove all distraction and learn. Devise a plan that will allow you the place and time to learn and become a master.

Mastery takes patience. One does not gain full comprehension of anything overnight. Albert Einstein said, “Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.” There is a fear that exists in us that is stifling, preventing the giving all of ourselves to something. That fear has to die. Recently, I read a piece by my friend Al Shepard, many of you know him as Blueprint, called Fear Comes in Many Disguises. In it he says,

 Fear is a natural human response (to) unknown outcomes. As we take these situations  into consideration, our minds make sure we have assessed the possible outcomes.  This is human nature and a mostly positive survival instinct.  However, there is a point where fear in our current context is given too much power.  That happens when we begin to fear the possible negative outcomes more than the potential gains.  Even worse, we begin to take on a dialog that hides these fears as something other than what they really are.

This struck a chord with me because fear can be why we don’t make an attempt to become proficient in anything. There is the fear of failure. There is the fear of inadequacy. There is also, weirdly enough, the fear of success. I have suffered and still do suffer from this fear at different points in my life and that fear has held me back from becoming the master that I am supposed to be in certain things, but seeing my son push and practice that game reminds me that the journey is long, tiring and at times repetitive, but as long as the passion is alive in me the voyage is never over.

We live in a microwave society that does not value mastery. In reality, society does not value much at all. Everywhere is a factory the spits out as many robots as possible with minimal skill in the craft that they were constructed for. From reality television to college campuses this world has become an assembly line for the construction of mediocre pods of empty ability and only a yearn to be scene for the succubus’ of the world to feed off of until they are used up. Then there is movement to the next pod. So how long will you allow the world to feed off of you? When will you make the decision to become something bigger that just another human. Being. We are destined for more than that. We just have to make a point to want to be. So this year, take a note out of my son’s book and work to become a master of something. Don’t just be a “jack of all trades.” Don’t just be content in knowing enough to get by. Buckle down and work toward perfecting a passion. Become what you were always meant to become; A master.

 

9 thoughts on “Become a Master of Something…”

  1. You are obviously not a master of spelling , grammar, or writing in general. Perfect that and people will take tour articles more seriously. I’m all about being passionate about something, but don’t you think being awesome at video games is giving your son a false sense of accomplishment?
    Maybe he could real more benefits in his life if you encouraged him to use his passions in something a little more productive or tangible. For example, learning to play an instrument or a foreign language. Seriously? I like your overall message here, but video games?
    Perhaps you should have lied and told us he was passionate about surfing and I think people would take you more seriously. Just my opinion. – Patrick Murch

    1. Patrick: It was just an example. As I said in the article he is passionate about all things in his life. I used the video game as an example of the simplicity of the life of a child and what they have to worry about in comparison to adults. He actually plays the Violin, Speaks Chinese, is a star football player and model student. Your reply to my post sounded utterly condescending and short sighted. Criticism is welcomed but don’t be a prick…

  2. Patrick you really miss the point of the article! Perfection, mastery even in grammer and punctuation is not always mastered i.e the mistakes that you made and corrected! The proverbial pot calling the kettle… Whst was noted here was and observation that sparked a more profound thought process. It was not said that video games was all the child masters! You have no idea what else the child does or if he has mastered other things! So quick to be critacal! If you have children I hope that you are around them enough observe them doing anything let alone the beauty of a father learning a life lesson from his child strictly by observation. That’s love running from heart to heart and breast to breast…

  3. Interesting read, thanks. In my own life, I find that I often want to commit myself to multiple projects at once–getting in shape, reading more, and playing music. You mention at the end of this that you find it best to dedicate one’s time to only one subject, and while I agree that maintaining several activities in the way that I am trying to do is difficult, and does not create the perfect environment for mastery, I also see benefits in incorporating each of those activities into my life more. What do you feel are the pros/cons of focusing on only one thing at a time as opposed to being a “Jack-of-all-Trades”?

    1. Thanks for the reply Jeremy. I wasn’t saying that being a jack of all trades is a bad thing by any means. I was just saying that we often only look at things in our lives as temporary with out diving in completely. I also am a jack of many trades. I believe it is a strong component to survival, but i also think that focusing on things in our lives that we want to perfect is also a key to survival. I think that mastery is something that we should strive for in everything in our lives. Of course we will not be able to master everything but the attempt will strengthen our resolve in the trades that we attempt to become proficient in. I hope that answers your question….

  4. This is a new favorite read of mine. Forget what Patrick said about grammar and spelling — you got the point across beautifully. You can always edit to perfection later.

    Patrick, you say that his son should forget about video games, because they’re not “tangible” skills. Is music tangible? Foreign languages? They are as tangible as games are, if not less. Music and language is heard, but some games (tabletops) are really in your hands.

    Are we talking about the benefits of having a skill like video games versus the benefits of having skills like music, or language skills? You might have a case there, but it is a weak one, for the exact point Illogic was trying to make in one of his paragraphs was that one cannot become a master of a thing for which he has no passion.

    Many times, what is passionate to us is uncontrollable. I am an adult, and I still play games all the time. I am avid Xbox and PC gamer, being the proud owner of dozens of discs and twice that many digital games. I often wonder if all of this gaming that I do is wasted time, but as Illogic posits, it is the passion for things which drive us, not the things themselves.

    Best of luck to your son, Illogic; another great mind at work.

  5. You’ve written a truly inspiring piece here. Since I first read it several weeks ago, I find myself remembering it in much I do. I want to do things with a passion, and powerfully — not to let sloth take over and dull the blade of the mind. I don’t want to be a zombie in a herd of ignorance. I want to become a master of something. Thank you, and thank your son.

    1. Thanks man. Im glad it touched you and gave you something to think about and live by. Im glad my words could be blessing to you.

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