slowing down for depth and mastery

16th November 2018

We’re trying to get there too fast. There’s a hunger to be the expert, the go-to-guy or gal, the thought leader, the brand, the personality, the star….without putting the time in.

Being a true expert or leader, being a master of your craft, being an influencer – these things take time, dedication, patience, commitment, persistence, tenacity. It takes pushing on when it feels tough and unrewarding. It takes applying yourself to your skill every day. It takes learning, reflecting, remaining in a state of growth.

As I look around (and perhaps I’m just getting old) it seems to me that more and more people are harnessing lightning speed modes of communication such as social media and similar platforms to build brands of expertise that are built on nothing more than bluff, bluster and blarney! I admire their chutzpah but I fear we’re losing our ability to go deep, to shape ideas from a position of profound understanding, or at the very least, profound questioning.

Now, I don’t know whether Gladwell’s concept of 10,000 hours of practice is accurate or not. I suspect that different skills, different professions, different arts, all need different kinds of journeys and levels of experience. For coaches, for instance, there’s a point where, once over the new-starter hump around 100 hours, it’s often not just about the hours of practice but rather the act of deliberate practice – in other words, reviewing your coaching, reflecting on lessons learned, growing through others, coaching in a conscious rather than mechanical way.

And that’s the thing – to develop deliberate, purposeful practice – a passionate desire to grow and to master one’s craft patiently.

Perhaps, that’s what we’ve lost – the patient endeavour. The journey. The apprenticeship.

Cal Newport, a voice for mastery and focus in his books Deep Work and So Good They Can’t Ignore You, speaks to the malaise of a culture in which we want to be there now before we’ve really applied ourselves and mastered what we do, where passion is assumed to be all we need. Screw skills, be passionate!

For me, the joy isn’t about being there. It’s about going there and then going further.

Coaching, leadership, entrepreneurship – transformation in its many guises – these are the playgrounds of my mastery. I walked out of employment in 2000 and embarked on a journey that never fails to reward. I made mistakes and I grew, I had successes and I grew. And you know what, 16 years in and I’m just at the beginning.

I believe we find a new level of being through meaningful mastery and as the leader of Animas, I am increasingly sensing that my next step in this journey is in mastering the ability to create and nurture a culture where we can all do “deep work”. Rather than being stuck in doing just that which makes life or business work, I want to help my team and community to do that which matters. At Animas, we strive for excellence, and that keeps us on our toes, but I believe there’s something further – depth, meaning, legacy. And these come through mastery.

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