On Mastery, from Adam Robinson

August 19, 2007 |

 For those interested in an overview of the process of mastery, I'd recommend The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, edited by Ericsson, and also his earlier work, The Road To Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports, and Games.

Also worth reading, in summary form, is the overview of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. I say summary form because the book contains a handful of ideas that could have been more concisely expounded in an article. A major problem with the book is the lack of showing how to acquire the flow state, so the book is merely descriptive of the state, not a manual on how to achieve it (though still worth musing).

Finally, "mastery" is surely a misnomer since it implies one has reached some final state. To quote Bohr, one has already made "all the mistakes there are to be made" in the field.

In keeping with Vic's continual reminders about humility, I often think of the famous director Akira Kurosawa, one of the giants, who, when accepting an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement at the age of 80 said that he would not accept the award for lifetime achievement, but rather for future work, because he felt he was only just beginning to master his craft. 

Henry Carstens adds:

Five Principles for Growth is an interesting article on this subject, as is the book by Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning.





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