Mastery not Perfection

My youngest grandson, Nick, is a natural-born athlete, and scary smart. Nick went to gymnastics, and his teacher had plotted out his path to the Olympics, but once across the balance beam and Nick was confident of his mastery. In our conversations I tried to convince him that walking a balance beam is easy, but to walk it with perfection, like you must to get a gold medal in the Olympics are two different things. Gymnastics was boring for Nick, but baseball is Nick’s current passion.

Engaging in a variety of activities makes life interesting, but achieving skill and mastery takes time. Judging ourselves against those who have already achieved mastery, could send each of us looking for a job that includes the words, “Would you like fries with that?” Rather than judge ourselves lacking, it is better to find something you enjoy doing, and keep doing it, just for the fun and challenge.

Hubby has loved electronics since he was 17 years old and put together an organ form a kit, and with training in the Marine Corps launched a career that grew to increased mastery at every level. Hubby’s woodworking skills are still emerging, but each items results in an increase of his ability, as well as nice items shared with family, and a lot of sawdust.

Amber King, soprano, offered a beautiful program at her senior recital presented by the Marshall School of Music and Theatre on Sunday, November 9, 2014 in the Smith Recital Hall. William Murphy on the piano accompanied King. The program included Quando M’en Vo’ from La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini, and ending with Tonight from West Side Story by Lenard Bernstein where tenor Gabriel Gray joined King. It was a thoroughly enjoyable concert, and as King continues to work toward mastery of her skill she will provide hours of enjoyment for any audience she performs before.

Of all the things I do, writing is the skill I have chosen to try for mastery in. Perfection is an impossible goal, one I am sure not even Shakespeare aspired to, yet his impressive body of work is held in highest esteem. But what was his first childish effort like? What was his first unedited version like? Most of us have no idea. Perfection is terrible, paralyzing task master. My first drafts are terrible, and many ideas have died right there, but you can’t achieve mastery if you quit at the first setback. You can’t achieve mastery if you paralyze yourself with the fear that you are not the best. You can’t achieve mastery if a misplaced comma brings you to a screeching halt.

So set aside the idea of perfection, and start working on mastery. It is a daily struggle to get a bit better through practice and persistence. Don’t quit just because it you are not perfect, nobody is perfect.

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