When you have a career, there's this idea that you will go from success to success. You start in the cubicle, then you get an office, then a corner office, then you move horizontally into a CEO position at another company, and so on.
I'm not sure that I know any masters of anything. I've been exposed to a couple, though.
What I do run into a lot of in my life are enormously successful people. Not a one of them got where they are through a slow climb of the ladder from one position to the next. They have all gotten to where they are by one of two means - the stepped on and over a few people to get ahead, or someone gave them a chance.
Failure isn't a big part of that trajectory; the delusionally confident people who think nothing of sacrificing others for their own gain don't believe they can fail; they download all failures as the fault of someone else. For those who've been given a chance, the hard drop of failure is often blocked off by a safety net. When people invest in kohais, they will often protect them from failure to keep them moving forward.
These incredibly successful people are all good at doing something, though it isn't always what they think they're good at.
One fella I know is convinced he's got the best ideas ever and has crafted all kinds of winning solutions for clients; talk to the clients, though, and they will say they actually hire other consultants for the work and just use this guy for his contacts. He never knew, nor would he have cared; the money came in, people respected him, he felt influential - what more to life was there?
This fella may be master of his realm, but it's a closed realm - and this is not mastery.
I have the intimidating pleasure to know some absolute geniuses - people whose brains burn like incandescent candles, drawing energy from every source imaginable and tearing through conversations with their lightening ideas.
These sorts of people are rarely happy, unless it's in a dopamine-fueled way. When their ego gets the better of them, these luminaries might think they are masters, but always feel that perfection eludes them. Omniscience is the goal and until and unless they get there, they will not be satisfied.
And so they are never satisfied. This is not mastery, either.
Lastly comes the rarest category of people, those who fully and internally understand that perfection is not possible; it's a concept we have created and define in a world that exists without boundaries. If asked, these sorts of thinkers would agree that quantum theory and theory or relativity don't add up, and smile. They don't expect Theory Of Everything solutions, they relish the questions.
If we were to call anyone master, it would be these folk - and yet they're not. It's the great secret they have learned; it's why folk like the Dalai Lama manage to be so happy all the time.
So, wither mastery, then?
You tell me.
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