Mastery is a Commitment to Practice

May 22, 2024

Mastery is an idea that has always fascinated me.

Looking at the pictures of Japanese knife smiths who fold a knife more than 200 times, working on one single knife for weeks and even months to get to the desired result.

Even before that, they spend years (often more than 10) with their master to learn the craft to a level that they feel they can present the work.

In my work as a dancer, mastery was what I was pursuing more than a momentary performance, and it led to the development of a unique style of movement and my ability to do things effortlessly that in the beginning would seem almost impossible.

It took me about six years of regular practice before I would get the comments of "being a talent", or "great mover!" "Dancing is in your blood!"

But that wasn't a statement of facts. I had simply committed to a life of practice and mastery regarding dance.

I remember multiple conversations with people who would ask me, "How do you start and become a dancer?" "I want to be a dancer too." "I think I can do this too. Maybe I will start to be a dancer."

I love it when people want to pursue dance, yet most people drastically underestimate what it takes to get to a professional level in dance and then to get to a level where you can live from it, which was not a common reality for dancers at the time.

But If I had told them that I spend 6 hours a day rehearsing moves that feel like shit, look like a failure, and miss the music, record them just to see all that still could be improved to then go again the next day, have muscle pain while I try to nail the move which in the end would take me 2 more weeks to get in while all the while I didn't feel like making progress... would they still want to go for it?

Mastery doesn't have a destination; it doesn't take you an amount of time. It is a commitment to practice that, if you stay on the path, you never stop.

When it comes to building a business, learning a new language, or pursuing anything worthwhile (like a relationship), I think that the quick fix, fast help culture won't get us there.

We think we can cheat our way to the result, avoid feeling incompetent, lost, scared, and clumsy and somehow, we can be the exception to what others had to do to create what was worthwhile for them.

Our culture is selling the idea that if you just buy this product, you will somehow magically get the dream body without working for it.

I've never seen it work.

What I have seen is that the people who perform beyond the norm, create outstanding results in their lives and create things of value to the community, all live lives of mastery. One where the devotion to practice is as much them as the results they are pursuing.

They play a game for the sake of playing the game, every day anew.

There is nothing shiny about going to the gym 5 times a week, standing in front of a mirror 6 hours a day to perfect a movement, or writing pages of posts to be able to translate your ideas to an audience.

The faster you give up the shortcuts and give yourself over to practice, the more your life will reflect the presence of mastery.

Have a great day!

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