Hi pals! Probably most of you out there have had several experiences of trying to learn something. And from stats, only a few have actually hit the path to mastery. We are so fixated on the goal that we lose sight of the process to mastery. Our trust in the process begins to plummet. We tell our selves that we don’t have the grit and resolution to attain mastery. Most often, we become nothing else but the set of choices that we make.
THE PATH TO MASTERY
Is the path to mastery exclusively reserved for the so-called talented. Our naivety could cost us more than we could imagine. Mastery isn’t served only to the super talented but for those who have gotten an early start. The path to mastery is a not always a path of exponential growth spurts.
Our contemporary societies could pose to be barriers that try to thwart our path to mastery. We are constantly inundated with news of instant success achieved by people, great performances, broken world records and all sorts of appealing information. The path to mastery begins when you are ready to learn a new skill be it table tennis, programming, touch typing, cooking, mental maths etc. When you are set out to learn a new skill it is better to start from scratch on a clean slate than to unlearn all your bad habits. Let us look at touch typing.
At the initial state, you become interested in touch typing. You love seeing muscle memory at work. You decide you want to learn it. You go on to search for nice touch typing apps or platforms to help you gain mastery in it. You start with the basics with the home keys by typing “ASDF” and “JKL;” repeatedly.
You seem to be progressing, you feel happy. You don’t spend lots of time practising and you advance to the next stage. It becomes more challenging due to the task of memorizing more key positions and also retaining various glides between the keys. With little practice you seem to get the hang of it, you move to the next stage, and the next and the next. You are fixated on the goal. You seem to be reaching it.
At the last stage, you are presented with lots of documents to type. You are done with the first one but it seems your accuracy is low and your speed isn’t impressive at all. You give your self the benefit of doubt and try the second. There seems to be little or no advancement. You become sad, annoyed, and filled with negative thoughts.
Probably thoughts like: “I don’t have what it takes to learn this skill, maybe it isn’t my talent, maybe I am not good enough, why can’t I be as good as him/her”. You might even find a way to make that skill seem derogatory to you in order to conclude that the skill isn’t worthwhile to learn. In the end, you leave the path to mastery. What about in other fields, fields like table tennis for example.
You start off with having the interest to learn table tennis. You give in and make up your mind to become good at it. You start with basic strokes. You start by learning basic ball services, you learn the basic strokes. You practice every day, you are dogged to attain that goal, you seem to be making progress, you become confident. With time you enter into a region of a plateau. You train and train with no seen spurts or advancement yielded. Becoming frustrated, you give up becoming vexed and filled with indignation.
The path of mastery has little to no progress, it requires consistency and diligence in order to hone your skill. Rather than become frustrated at the plateau you should learn to love it.
For out of it comes that complete and tough circuitry that makes you proficient at a skill. But why isn’t the path to mastery characterized by exponential growth? That’s because at the level of mastery your brain becomes one with the skill.
Although it hasn’t yet been explained, the most probable answer could be that the underlying mechanism involves low level storing(reading and writing) of data related to your skill, forming strong mesh networks and creating strong relations between each subtle information gotten.
In fact, when you learn so fast you are liable to gloss over small stages in the learning process and thereby creating an opaque surface that hides the intricacies. When you take time to learn a skill deliberately, the read and write process becomes so powerful in the brain. Just like an X-ray penetrating through the mind and getting the nook and crannies of information required to make you outstanding.
TRUSTING THE PROCESS
Our path to mastery should be filled with persistence and diligence and most importantly, love for the plateau. When I say love for the plateau, I don’t mean love for the plateau when you are not diligent and consistent in training but loving that state of little or no progress when you are dogged and consistent in training.
Just remember that your brain is registering subtle differences and changes in the practice pattern and it takes time. Don’t just seek the practice as an indulgence but let it be deliberate and be a totally conscious act.
THE ACT OF LEARNING AND TEACHING
One of the most important asset to the path of mastery is learning from a good teacher or master. When you are set out to master a skill, it’s very important that you take time to search for a tutor that is well trained and has the ability to communicate freely with his/her apprentice.
I believe the ability to be so skilled in an area of expertise and also be able to convey efficiently instructions to teach an apprentice is often a rare skill. So look for these type of teachers.
Probably you’ve seen students that are literally very good at solving mathematical questions but they find it difficult to teach their peers, not because they don’t understand the mathematical concepts but because they lack that skill of teaching.
The skill to teach can also be learned but many don’t buy into that. The apprentice should be humble and open to learning from the master irrespective of his past successes and proficiencies in other skill. To be a learner you’ve got to be willing to play a fool.
Masters or teachers should try their best to correct their apprentice constructively and not destructively. Positive feedback should be given as well as negative ones but its aim shouldn’t be done to demoralize the apprentice.
In conclusion, the road to mastery is open for all if only you are ready and willing to learn deliberately, play a fool and be consistent in your training.
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