Mastery


Mastery

Genius is learned. The spark for mastery is based on your inclinations. Attaining mastery is extremely necessary and the process never ends.

1. Purpose
Does your work match your inclinations? Does it call to you? Does it spark a child-like sense of wonder and excitement? Trust your voice. When faced with difficulties, ignore the weaknesses initially and focus on what you can do. Masters are extraordinary because of their loyalty to their craft and how clearly their calling comes through in what they do.

Methods to Reconnecting To Your Purpose

  • Return to Your Origins – Focus on interests from early life
  • Discover a Niche – Keep moving between them or master multiple and combine
  • False Path – Don’t follow for money, attention, or fame
  • Adaptation – Life’s task can take different forms. Anticipate and be flexible.
  • Life or Death – Being off the path will be painful and frustrating

2. Apprenticeship
The goal is to transform your body and mind. The world is intensely complicated and the divide will be between those who can learn and those who are too distracted. Learning something that involves your hands will help you understand how things function. Think of yourself as a builder creating something tangible and adhere to the highest standards.

The Three Step Process of Apprenticeship: Observation, Acquisition, Experimentation
Deep observation is absorbing reality. Focus on the rules and procedures. Observe power dynamics and behaviors of those rising and falling. Analyze why and how things exist and relate to a larger trend. Do not attempt to change anything, but focus on learning and understanding. This will help you avoid costly mistakes. The ability to observe will assist you your entire life and will help you get accustomed to seeing first before forming thoughts and ideas.

In the skill acquisition phase, reduce skills to simple and essential steps that can be practiced. Watching and imitating is a natural form of learning. Reaching the cycle of accelerated returns will allow you to practice for longer, gain skills faster, and gain more interest in the topic. Start with one skill and don’t multi-task. Initial stages will involve tedium so learn to handle this with discipline. Dedicated practice is better than more time of unfocused practice. It is estimated that it takes roughly 10,000 hours to achieve mastery.

In the Experimentation phase, expose yourself to criticism. Gauge your progress and your gaps. Learn to take criticism constructively. Detach yourself and see your work through the eyes of others. Move on to another apprenticeship or go on your own when you have learned what you can.

Strategies for Completing an Apprenticeship

  • Value Learning Over Money – Focus on where you will learn the most
  • Expand Your Horizons – No one will help you. Expose yourself to the ideas of the world and expand your circles. Be relentless in this pursuit for expansion.
  • Revert to Feelings of Inferiority – Feelings of superiority hinder learning.
  • Trust the Process – When you face difficulties don’t unconsciously quit. Time is the magic ingredient. Frustration is a sign of progress.
  • Move towards Resistance and Pain – Go against your natural tendencies. Be your worst critic. Notice your weaknesses and focus on them during practice. Create your own deadlines and your own standards of excellence.
  • Apprenticeship Yourself in Failure – Be bold and venturesome. Learn in your failures.
  • Combine the “How” and the “What” – Understand the how of things to gain a larger grasp of reality. How do things work, how do decisions get made, and how do groups interact?
  • Trial & Error – Value the process of self-discovery and acquiring as many skills as possible. Make things of the highest quality and see what suits you. Combine your unique skill sets.

3. Absorb the Master’s Power
We don’t like submitting to authority, but learning requires humility. You need some level of experience before approaching a master. Masters will streamline your learning, but this will not be a shortcut. Personal interactions are best due to the nuances of non-verbal behaviors. If you cannot find one person, find multiple people based on your needs. When approaching a mentor, think in terms of their best interest. They may try to hold you back in the future which will require a break when the learning is done.

Strategies for Deepening the Mentor Dynamic
Your Needs and Inclinations – Who you pick is very important so put as much thought into this as possible. Think about your inclinations, life task, and desired future position.
Gaze into Mentor’s Mirror – Masters experience endless criticism, doubts, and setbacks. They can gauge your progress more accurately. Search for tough love and accurate assessments of your weaknesses. You must have a realistic view of yourself.
Transfigure their Ideas – Do not become an imitation. Adapt the knowledge to become your own.
Create a Back-and-Forth Dynamic – If the relationship becomes stale, revealing your own experiences and ideas may yield new learning. This is not rebellion nor a lessening of respect.
Self-Mentorship – If there is no other option, read more books than anyone else. Internalize the voice of authors, apply the knowledge, and reflect on their experiences.

4. Social Intelligence
Empathy developed in humans to allow for higher levels of cooperation. Due to our long period of dependency, we tend to have a distorted perspective. In the naive perspective, we focus only on what people have done to us and do not accurately see people making our empathetic powers useless. Passing this phase requires moving away from the tendency to idealize or demonize. To understand people, you must get outside yourself and immerse your mind in their world. Focus on illusions vs. reality and your role in creating these discrepancies. You must adapt an attitude of supreme acceptance. You cannot change people, but you can avoid becoming a victim.

If you don’t have the patience for mastering the subtle and manipulating side of human nature, work for yourself or startups, but regardless, it will be wise learning how to read and recognize difficult people in order to charm or disarm them.
Social intelligence doesn’t only help with people, but also with creativity. Developing this will allow for a more fluid and sensitive way of thinking. People lacking social intelligence will lack creativity, openness, and sensitivity to detail. If you completely opt out, it will slow your growth.

Developing Specific Knowledge of People

  • Observe non-verbal traits: tone, look in the eye, body language
  • Open yourself up to their influence, but resist temptation to interpret what they say as somehow implicating you
  • After knowing someone, imagine the world from their perspective and worldview
  • Analyze their actions and decisions: choice of clothes or mate?. What are the hidden motives (typically power)?
  • Look at how they respond to stressful situations
  • Be sensitive to extreme behavior
  • Avoid first impressions, may be nervous not accurate
  • People have a public persona, do not mix this for their true self
  • Understand their character and values and what lies at the core
  • Understand motivations, foresee actions, and recognize how to best win them to your side

Developing General Knowledge of People

  • Envy – It is natural to compare ourselves with others. Watch out for people who are too friendly at the outset. They may be insecure and may try to hinder you. Display your weakness and insecurities. Do not make people feel stupid. Intelligence is the most sensitive trigger point. Blend in well until you are successful enough that it doesn’t matter.
  • Conformism – People are uncomfortable with people who are different. Observe how people feel the need to display certain opinions. Watch out for overseers of correctness. For politics, morals, and values, adhere to existing standards, otherwise, people will find a reason to hate you.
  • Rigidity – People like patterns. Rigid people do not advertise this trait. Logic will make them defensive. Don’t waste time and accept it. Show deference for order. Maintain your own open spirit and cultivate new ideas.
  • Self-Obsessiveness – People like thinking about themselves. They may create an aura of helpfulness, but may not deliver when you need it. Appeal to their self-interest. Frame in concrete benefits and make conversations revolve around them.
  • Laziness – Some people will try to steal your ideas and take credit. Let your master do this, but not colleagues. Be careful with collaborations. Think about how it will add to your skill base and examine the person’s work ethic. Typically they want you to do most of the work.
  • Flightiness – People are driven by emotions and are not purely rational. Never assume what people say in a particular moment is an accurate reflection of what they think or believe. Examine their actions which will be more consistent.
  • Passive-Aggression – Caused by the fear of direct confrontation. For low level, call them out and make them aware of it. Otherwise, you can either get out of the way or retaliate with something equally indirect. Avoid entangling yourself emotionally, you will lose.

Strategies for Acquiring Social Intelligence

  • Speak through your work – Your work is the most important. Don’t let social aspects affect how it is interpreted. Gracefully accept feedback. Work that is solid protects you and makes it harder to argue against.
  • Appropriate Persona – People will project their own assumptions onto you. Better to mold your own image to suit you. Never settle on one. Don’t let them figure you out. Create a persona that is compelling and pleasurable to witness. Let them project their fantasies onto you. Learn to mingle and blend into all types of environments.
  • See Yourself as Others Do – We are quick to discern mistakes of others, but not our own. We are too emotional and invested in protecting our ego. People won’t tell you because fear of being mean-spirited. Look at negative events from past. See your flaws and where you were wrong.
  • Suffer Fools Gladly – Focus on long-term results and getting to your goals efficiently. Fools are short-sighted, selfish, and don’t get much done. Don’t lower yourself. Don’t try to change their behavior or rationalize as it will waste time and emotional energy. We have foolish tendencies as well so accept the fools like rocks or furniture. Use them for your own advantage.

5. Awakening the Dimensional Mind: The Creative-Active
The original child-like mind diminishes as we get older. The conventional mind is one that consumes and regurgitates information in familiar form. The Dimensional mind transforms what it digests into something new. Creativity is stifled due to attitudes. People become too familiar with ideas and become afraid of entertaining new ideas due to the effort involved. They also fear the risk of failure. Everyone can spark the creative mind by developing a high level of knowledge in a field and having the openness and flexibility to use this knowledge in original ways.

The Creative Task
While the intellectual capacity is important, you must choose the right subject or else it can all go to waste. There must be an obsessive element about what you choose. Having something that you connects deeply within you will help you withstand setbacks and failures. Acknowledge that drudgery and hard work is always part of creative action. Your emotional commitment will translate into your work. If it comes from a deep place, the authenticity will be communicated. Focus on what appeals to your sense of unconventionality. The tasks you choose must be realistic, but having higher goals will allow you to dig deeper. Let go of comfort and security. If you are fearful and care about what others think, your ideas will grow stale.

Creative Strategies

  • Negative Capability – People tend to see what they want to believe (confirmation bias). Suspend your judgement and opinions until you have considered multiple viewpoints and angles. Break up anything that makes you think you know the truth and adopt an attitude of humility towards knowledge. Use this tool to open the mind up to more possibilities.
  • Serendipity – When the mind is narrow it shuts out other stimuli. Relaxing can assist creative process. Widen your search by researching deeper than is required. Create a mental cauldron of ideas. Maintain an open and loose spirit. Serendipity is important because our mind is limited. Random stimuli may lead to novel associations and new ideas. Keep a notebook with you at all time and track ideas or inspirational ideas, pictures, etc.
  • Alternate the Mind through the “Current” – Cycle between speculation and observation/experimentation. Pierce deeper into reality. The constant dialogue between your thoughts and reality will allow for higher levels of abstraction which can assist in the discovery of hidden laws of reality. Be bold and audacious. Conform or dis-confirm theories. Proto-type and iterate. Feedback makes visible what is invisible to you, the objective reality of your product and its flaws.
  • Alter your Perspective
    • “How” and the “What” – People tend to focus on objects. Look at how objects relate to each other and examine the bigger picture.
    • Generalities – Pay attention to details and staying open-minded combats generalizing tendencies, but don’t get lost in them.
    • Anomalies – Anomalies are areas to be explored. These are aspects of reality not yet explained and represent the future.
    • What is Absent – Think about what should have happened. How can new technologies be applied in novel ways. Emotions can affect our thinking so try to see setbacks as opportunities.
    • Revert to Primal Forms of Intelligence – We lost many of our sense abilities due to the development of language. Language can be rigid and fail in certain areas. Human working intelligence is limited. Visuals can contain more information and are more concrete than words which are abstract. In synesthesia, one sense provokes another opening up different ways of thinking.

The Creative Breakthrough
At some point you will hit a wall due to your own high standards. This is important because it creates some distance between your work which will allow you to view it more critically. Don’t quit too early and look for an easy solution. The brain might just been too tight. Have awareness of this and understand its value and purpose. The Brain needs some tension. Create deadlines as the brain will jolt it into a higher gear. Creating something great requires great discipline, self-control and emotional stability. It is the fruit of much efforts and requires mastering the forms of your field.

Emotional Pitfalls

  • Complacency – As you gain knowledge, you will feel satisfied and feel superior narrowing your mind. Avoid public acclaim. Value active wonder and remind yourself how little you know and the mysteries that remain.
  • Conservatism – Don’t get comfortable especially is something you did earlier received praise. Creativity requires boldness and rebellion. You are playing with rules and experimenting. The world is dying for new ideas. Focus on creativity and not comfort.
  • Dependency – Do not be reliant on your master. Develop your own standards. Take in public feedback, but be detached and distinguish what should be ignored and what should be paid attention to. If you have no internal gauge, you will be blown by the opinion of others.
  • Impatience – This is the greatest pitfall. Results in hurrying or repeating stale ideas. Creativity requires intensity and vigor. Cultivate pleasure for pain and an enjoyment for practice.
  • Grandiosity – Praise will hurt you. An inflated ego will make you alter your work to cater to attention. Keep perspective and remember there are many masters better than you. There were many factors that paved the way for your success. The work and the process itself must motivate you.
  • Inflexibility – Know your field inside and out, but question the most entrenched assumptions. Feel optimistic and doubtful at the same time.

Strategies for the Creative-Active Phase

  • Authentic Voice – You can’t talk. The basics must be hardwired so you can focus on higher level tasks. Don’t be impatient. The audience can pick up on lack of rigor. Love learning for its own sake.
  • Fact of Great Yield – Be an opportunist. Start in one field, but do not allow your mind to be tethered. Read from all fields and keep your mind open. Explore anomalies.
  • Mechanical Intelligence – Mechanical intelligence is the source of reasoning and creative powers. If you don’t use your product, you will be out of touch with functionality. See things as a whole. Focus on the craft.
  • Natural Powers – Build in an initial period that is open-ended. Do not let anything limit you. Gain wide knowledge of a field and never settle into complacency. Cultivate profound dissatisfaction. Embrace slowness as a virtue. The single greatest step is reversing natural impatience.
  • The Open Field – Natural decay in a medium or profession impedes creativity. Look inward and think about what you want to express. Let this take root in you and play against conventions. Do not confuse newness with wild spontaneity. This needs to be rooted in reality and discipline. Combine all the knowledge you have in a field and create a new space in an existing culture.
  • The High End – In many fields there is technical lock. People use standard techniques and lose sense of the bigger picture. Problems should always be connected to the larger goal or purpose. This will prevent fetishizing certain techniques or becoming overly obsessed with trivial details.
  • Evolutionary High Jack – Ideas don’t come out of nowhere. See how something can be used differently. Creativity comes from an open and adaptable spirit. Look at things from several angles.
    Dimensional Thinking – Don’t try to simplify into too much as this will only capture a part of reality. Examine from many angles. Imagine how the parts interact and how they can’t be completely separated.
  • Alchemical Creativity and the Unconscious – Our culture tends to look at extremes. Good vs bad. Beautiful vs Ugly. Our desires do not fit into these neat categories. Mix disparate ideas. Explore contradictory parts of reality. This make people recognize unconscious truths. Contradictions are a rich mine of information about a reality that is deeper and more complex than can be conceived.

6. Fuse the Intuitive with the Rational
Masters reach a high level of intuitive knowledge. Science and society tends to only focus on rational intelligence or things that can be recreated. However, there are unseen elements and dynamic forces operating in everything. Once you understand all the parts in what you study, it becomes internalized, and you gain an intuitive feel for the whole. Rationality and intuition work together. When intuition comes, it is subject to a high degree of reflection and reasoning. The intensity of focus is just as important as the amount of time. Make time to study richly, internalize knowledge, make it your own, and look for connections in ideas. If you fail, reflect and analyze what went wrong. Question conventions, experiment and become increasingly active. Every moment contains deep lessons so never just go through the motions. You are unique and there is a purpose to your uniqueness. Constantly apply yourself and attack from many angles to enrich your seeds.

Roots of Masterly Intuition
Instinctive capabilities slowed down as the mind developed, but we made up for it with intuition. Intuition is driven by memory the stability and duration of which depends on the intensity of the experience and how deeply we were paying attention. Mnemonic networks become numerous as you study topics. The brain is constantly searching for and discovering connections. When confronted with a high level problem, the brain attacks from hundreds of angles. Intuition is faster than analysis and lets us process complex layers and gain a sense for the whole which is a skill that is more critical in today’s environment.

The world is getting increasingly complicated and most people want to opt out. They develop a taste for ease want settle on simplified ideas of reality. They lose a taste for developing skills since the process of learning hurts their self-esteem. This neutralizes the power of the brain. This desire infects us all. We must quiet anxiety when confronted with something complex. Learn various parts or skills and don’t look too far ahead. Don’t look for black and white answers. Use negative capability and detachment. Develop a taste for chaotic moments. Try to cultivate your memory capacity. Technology degrades this ability. Look at hobbies that make you flex this part of the brain.

Return to Reality
Things can get weird or disconnected to reality if too specialized. Make connections with everything and think about the relationships between them. There is your subjective experience and reality. As you get closer to mastery, the brain will physically change and resemble the world in all its complexities.

Strategies for Attaining Mastery

  • Mastery requires self-confidence and self-awareness. You must be able to forge your own path.
  • Connect to your Environment – Understanding your surroundings is the most primal and powerful form of mastery. First observe, then break down and see hidden truths. Use your senses not just technology.
  • Play to your Strengths – Have extreme focus. Determine your mental and psychological strengths and work with them. Mastery requires many hours of practice and you cannot get there if your work brings you no joy. Have a feel for your own way oft thinking and unique perspectives. People are conformists and discourage the unique. Pay deepest attention to the peculiar things in your own make-up.
  • Transform through Practice – Once a skill becomes automatic, the mind is freed to focus on a higher skill. Fuse the body and the mind. The brain will assimilate a large amount of information.
  • Internalize Details – People in a hurry lack attention. When you produce work with life and presence, people will feel the vibrancy. You do not need to literally layout the details.
  • Widen your Vision – People with a global perspective will prevail. Most people focus on the present. Continuously expand your perspective and train yourself to look at the larger picture and how things connect.
  • Submit to Others – When you observe from the outside, you are not being objective as you are tainted by your assumptions and predigested theories. The natural tendency is to project our beliefs. Gain continual exposure and try to get an increasing sense of their perspective. This requires much effort.
  • Synthesize All Forms of Knowledge – Steep yourself in all forms of knowledge and let your mind grow closer to reality. The human brain is designed to make connections. There is no real border between art and science.

Conclusion
If you avoid your inclinations it will lead to false sense of self. Mastery is following the deep desires that stirs from within. If you follow this desire, you can make a great contribution to society. It is selfish to only consume. The true self comes from deep within. There is no reason, it is just a fact of nature. Follow the voice and fulfill your life’s task.

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