Mastery and the Art of Starting Over

Over the course of 2018, I read books about mastery. Every book hammered home the same point: You cannot master anything that you don’t feel passionate about.

Learning a profession, any profession, requires hours of commitment to learning, failing, practice, and mentorship. 10,000 hours is the number the experts say is required to “master” a skill. But according to my study, the hours alone are not enough. Heart is also required. If the heart’s desire is ignored in the selection of a person’s chosen profession, then they will never reach the level of mastery. Which is why so few people ever do. Efficiency, productivity, conformity – all traits celebrated by corporate America – often exclude personal passion and desires.

Even people who become “experts” in a field will at some point burn out when the insincerity of what they are doing, and the neglected desire, pushes to the forefront. And according to these books, it always does – regardless of the profession or how successful that person has become.

I’ve been working on starting over with a second career for several years now. I have been coming back to books again and again since I was a little girl. It was long past time to listen to myself.

This time, I wanted to make sure that the field I dedicated my precious time to was a field that addressed my heart-felt desire to create something meaningful. So I have been working on learning to how access my heart in order to make decisions that are grounded in all three centers of being: heart, mind, and body. Having ignored my heart the first time around, now I am making decisions that are more guided by natural intuition and passion, rather than by survival mode (efficiency, productivity, worrying what other people will think). I have been working on a plan and am excited to move forward on a path towards mastery.

At 42, I know my greatest disadvantage is that I’m running out of time to get in those 10,000 hours. However, unlike the 20 year old apprentice, I’m not starting completely from scratch. I have experience and knowledge in several fields that I will be able to reapply here with ease and benefit.

Here are a few of the books I read that address the subject of Mastery. Each one has a strong emphasis on the need to include the heart and heart-felt intuition in each phase of the process from the beginning research and practice to the experienced presentation of work. Failure and rejection show up repeatedly as well, but if the heart is in the mix, the failure transforms into valuable and necessary learning experiences.

Mastery, by Robert Greene

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

The Heart Aroused:Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America, by David Whyte

The Point of Pointless Work, by Ali Almossawi

Side Note: This post is related to my research on mastery in general. I’ve read many other books in the area of psychology related to accessing the heart and learning how to hear your own voice and values. Reading about mastery was my way to taking that knowledge and figuring out how to apply it to a professional path.

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