The Roads that lead to Self-Mastery
Is self-mastery a mindset? Are we all able to achieve our full potential or is mastery only available to those with the resources of pre-existing talent?
Success is a result of accomplishing whatever we set out to achieve. Completing a goal or achieving a set aim or purpose. This doesn’t, however, mean we reach mastery. Actually, I am not sure if “self-mastery” is indeed absolute or possible.
Here is a quote by Sarah Lewis that inspired this thought.
“Masters are not experts because they take a subject to its conceptual end, they are masters because they realise there isn’t one.”
I can learn how to bake a really good thick chocolate mud cake. I could repeat the process again and again until every time I complete the process the end result is consistently exceptional. I become an expert mud-cake maker. Does this make me a master?
One could argue that yes, I am an expert and have masters cake making of one kind, however, this largely depends on the perspective of the individual being asked. As it relates to “self-mastery” however, that relates only to the Self. I don’t believe that external perspective doesn’t play a role in the assessment of mastery.
From an internal perspective I could rest easy on the belief that I have mastered the process but while it is healthy to be proud of what we achieve finality in progress is never ending. There is always room for improvement. There are levels of mastery.
Accepting success and assuming mastery that results in an end to the pursuit of a particular subject is fine. It allows us to passionately become experts in other fields. And there is an unlimited number of areas in life we could focus on with a desire to become experts the issue that we face is a limitation of time – we have to choose our focuses wisely.
As we jump from one passion to pursue another our expertise in the previous area will weaken. We will not entirely forget what we’ve learned through the years of dedicated practice but we will become less effective. Practice and mastery in any field is a never ending pursuit.
If we throw down our arms and call an end to pursuit, there will surely be others who take our place becoming experts as we were. As things advance they will learn new skills and develop the expertise to an even higher level.
Modern life is moving that rapidly that this is becoming more and more evident. Just as one skill is learned it becomes obsolete or just as one skill is mastered another skill is discovered that raises the bar in that field once again. Those that can master learning, particularly that of complex if difficult nature, and do so quickly will be more prone to success and the evolution of their self-mastery.
In a TED Talk by Sal Khan he describes the issue we face with our educational system and learning. The learning trap creates limiting mindset and impacts one’s potential of achieving self-mastery.
Here is a summary. When we learn something we are graded. The better our result that better our chances to learn the next level up. And regardless of our grade, we are often moved to the next level before mastering the one we are on. Unless we completely fail we progress.
Here is the issue, how can we learn next level knowledge when we weren’t able to grasp and completely learn the concepts in the previous grade. This concepts and learnings are the tools to help us level-up. Without them, we will be at a disadvantage.
The question must be asked is why? Why is there a learning gap? Upon analysing this we can then assess how we can better teach or learn the material before proceeding any further. If we don’t we risk creating limiting mindsets.
When we don’t close the learning gap and keep progressing to the next level the learning gap widens. As the subject of focus becomes more difficult we struggle, we lose interest, we give-up. We then find our self-narration that says something like the following, “I am just not good at… (insert subject here).
This system that we rely on is flawed and I believe based on the current trends it is becoming more and more flawed. We must master the process of learning if we truly want to achieve self-mastery.
If we have a mindset that is limited to what we can and cannot do that will obviously impact our potential. It not only puts a barrier to what we can try and experience but it will also lead to less motivation to desire to try new things.
Motivation is what get us up in the morning. It is the spark that propels us towards learning new things. The desire to learn new things, experiment, explore and discover is what ignites passion. It is the fire of desire and without desire, there is not progress.
If we are limited by a mindset that tells us we simply aren’t cut out for greatness we will put self-limits on our desires and this will limit our motivation that is essential for the journey towards self-mastery. Sarah Lewis stated in her TED Talk that a journey of self-mastery is to always have more desires that what we can accomplish.
If I feel like I’ve mastered cake making that should mean the evaporation of all other desires. There may be room to improve in the field of baking but this should limit desires and the pursuit of other passions.
Self-mastery isn’t limited to one particular field. The self and the reality we live is infinite and therefore mastery is finite. For as long as we have fuel to burn our desires there is more to learn, improve and progress towards.
The source of our fuel is a growth mindset, not a limited or fixed one. A belief that how we live and be, and what we can do and have is abundant and entirely within our control. We must not put limits on what we can do or what is possible, that limits passion, that limits to desire, that limits a life of continual self-mastery.
Mastery is said to be comprehensive knowledge or skill on a particular subject. We can become an expert on baking cakes but the knowledge and skill that can be applied to this subject are always evolving.
As it relates to the self, knowledge, and skill that can be learned on this subject is never ending and therefore self-mastery is a continuous, infinite and forever expansive.
“We thrive not when we’ve done it all but when we still have more to do.” Sarah Lewis.