What does it mean to master a field? It comes from practicing, performing, reflecting, and practicing more. The result is liberation and freedom. Self-expression.
Seeing mastery happen before your eyes
Everyone who masters anything goes through a similar process that includes inexperience, looking less than amateurish, practicing, reflection, self-doubt, despair, progress, regress, anxiety, improvement, moving backward, mentoring, and so on.
Years ago I found a site that showed the sketches a man did every day for a year. You could see him mastering the craft from sketch to sketch. The site disappeared and I’ve had to resort to describing the effect of seeing that process.
My friend told me about an artist, Jonathan Hardesty, who documented his deliberate effort to master art. Someone made a video of the first nine years of his work. I consider the result one of the best road maps for personal growth leading to master I’ve seen.
You can see him developing technique, facing challenges, persevering, hiding behind protections, exposing his vulnerabilities, and more. I’ve only just seen it, but my first impression tells me that this video illustrates any and every journey to master any field.
From his page:
Journey of an Absolute Rookie
On September of 2002, Jon embarked on his journey to pursue a career in art. Â Having no prior experience making art, he set off towards his goal of becoming a professional artist. Â Jon’s journey was unique in that he began logging every step of his process. Â On an art blog website (conceptart.org) he posted every single drawing or painting he created without fail. Â Nine years later, individuals logging on to his thread could see all the struggle, frustration, and success that came with along the journey. Â
Mastering sustainability leadership
“You’re so extreme,” people describe my sustainability leadership work—staying local instead of flying, taking over a year to fill a load of trash, picking up others’ trash every day, etc.
I don’t consider myself extreme. I still produce waste, so I haven’t reached zero. By contrast, I smoke zero cigarettes and shoot zero heroin, but nobody calls me extreme despite zero being as extreme as possible.
What I am instead of extreme
But I didn’t know how to describe myself otherwise. I’ve mastered sustainability and leading it. I haven’t reached Mozart-level mastery, but I’ve reached some advanced stages where things that look hard or impossible to others, I take on with relish, like unplugging my fridge for the winter. I can explain the value of the experiment, far beyond reducing electrical use, but anyone mastering anything will get the value of testing your limits. In my case, it’s about developing resilience, finding my boundaries, curiosity, fun, and things like that.
Finding new ways to act sustainably is the opposite of a chore or burden. It’s fun. It leads me to learn more about myself and what being human means, Things like that.
I can’t recommend highly enough to put yourself through the process of mastering something. You’ll love the freedom, calm, and self-expression it brings.
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