What Is Mastery?
Mastery involves the constant, never ending process of refining isolated skills and knowledge … and the understanding, wisdom and skill to then bring them back together as needed to create complex performances. |1| It evolves as needed to adapt to ever changing environments. Ultimately it involves performance standards rather than content standards.
To become a master one needs the:
- Control of relevant specialized resources such as skills, bodies of knowledge, tools and other assets. (These strengths can be developed individually in places such as schools).
- Ability to aptly combine these resources as needed, in both known situations and in novel situations. (This ability comes from experience obtained while moving along the path of mastery).
- Opportunities to create complex, often novel masterpieces. (Masterpieces are the ultimate proof that one is a master).
Here are some job descriptions of people commonly described as masters:
- Master Coach: John Wooden, the famous basketball coach, said “I tried to teach according to the whole–part method. I would show them the whole thing to begin with. Then I’m going to break it down into the parts and work on the individual parts and then eventually bring them together.” His basketball teams were able to bring the fundamentals of offense & defense together in complex sometimes novel performances, i.e., masterpieces. |2|
- Master Chef: Knows how to skillfully use all the ingredients and tools in a kitchen. Knows how to make many tasty dishes from scratch. Can creatively improve existing dishes and can create new dishes, i.e., masterpieces, using what is available in changing contexts.
- Master Dancer: Has complete control of all the fundamental steps. Can perform known dances at a high level. Knows many basic sequences and can artistically combine them impromptu on the fly. Can create artistic new dance moves and new dances, i.e., masterpieces.
- Keep Practicing, even when you seem to be getting nowhere. George Leonard |3|
- Practice is the path of mastery. |4| Mastery is staying on the path. George Leonard |4|