Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Microstory 342: Mastery

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Subculture Recognition

Once you have found your strength, and built your life and/or career around it, you’re going to want to go all the way. We’ve all probably heard the research that says you can’t become a master of something without 10,000 hours of practice. Of course, that’s an arbitrary number, and though I don’t know for sure, I suspect the original writer meant that figure to be more of a foundation for understanding the concept of repetition. Practice creates procedural memories. This allows you to grow so good at something that it becomes simply part of who you are. It attaches itself to your identity, weaving in and out of your other character traits, making it impossible to see one aspect of you without seeing the rest. You are a master when the question who are you? becomes nearly identical to the question what do you do? It does not mean you know absolutely everything about your chosen topic. It just means that you have studied enough to act upon your knowledge through career choices and interactions with colleagues. It means that when someone asks you for your opinion about a certain aspect of the field, you understand what it is their asking, and can express a logical perspective, comparable or superior to theirs. Mastery, however, is not a goal. It’s about getting up to speed with the state of the art so that you can participate in furthering the world’s comprehensive study of it. A master’s job is never done, for it is their responsibility to keep up with changes and other developments to enrich their own lives, and to support the field as a whole. Mastery may now sound like a lofty concept, but the fact is that the word can be used for any profession. Anyone can become a master of anything to which they hold competence. If you want to become a master cashier, and you’re fine with that life, then that’s perfectly all right. Masters are not the elite, they’re just all the ones who worked hard enough.


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