I once read it took at least 10,000 hours or maybe a lifetime to become a master of whatever you’re trying to master. It’s not possible at 10 minutes or even 20 minutes per day because you won’t live long enough. At 4 hours per day, 2500 days.
Expertise is valuable, even though we live in a confusing time where access to information ranks almost the same as having mastery.
As I work towards mastery in my garden of interests, I find that my sporadic progress, and randomly focused gathering of tools and ideas, has suddenly allowed me to do lots of new things – which I couldn’t do before. I was learning things, that had limited use in and of themselves, when internalized and congealed, a whole new range of options magically appeared. I have graduated so connections light up. However, now there are new problems, new things become important, become visible and necessary.
Lethargic progress finds precious flame, enlightened.
When I’m learning from (talking to or reading or looking at videos of) someone, it’s obvious if they are a level above me, because they see instantly or do instantly what takes me work or time or both to figure out. The newly accomplished are good people to learn from, because they were recently where I am now, they remember the struggle. What they are doing is easy for me to make sense of (it’s not that much harder, even though I can’t do it yet, than what I can already do).
Early success fuels confidence, until…
Learning from someone many levels up is a different matter. They are barely understandable, incomprehensible, in fact, they speak a new language. It’s hard to think I would ever know or be able to do what they do. Trying to learn from them is good (barring the discouragement of being so far below), but the things they want to teach seem philosophical, not practical, and it’s hard to see how they’ll help.
Hard to see until the philosophy is what enables new jumps.
A master of ______ (fill in the blank) is speaking a different language. Even if the words are comprehensible the meanings are more nuanced, more specialized. They may seem less impressive than someone who is just several steps up, because most of what they’re thinking about and referring to is totally invisible to me. So invisible it doesn’t even register. They usually are aiming for understandable, as opposed to trying to impress. They have gone beyond the complexity, to refined, deep knowledge and ability. I might think I can follow them because of the really entertaining stories they told. Any one of these stories, if I pay enough thoughtful attention to it, can have adequate insight to get me into my next phase of mastery. If they are recorded, I watch them many times with space and learning in between.
It’s always a head shaking surprise – why didn’t I catch that before?
What are you trying to master? Is there something that made you step up? Something invisible that became suddenly visible?