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Finding Mastery

Last week we discussed how the opposite of Purpose is boredom.  This week we’ll see how the opposite of mastery is rigidity of thought.

What makes someone a master?  The line is constantly moving.  New world records are set every year.  Mile times and marathon times decrease every year.  There are more Chess Grandmasters every year.  Piano compositions once thought impossible are not played by beginners.

The lesson is that experts must continue learning to remain experts.  Masters don’t hang a signed plaque and call it a day.  Since the line of expertise is always moving, you must adapt and continuously improve.  It’s impossible to do so with a fixed mindset.

I have a relative with a fixed mindset.  He:

  • Has an opinion on everything
  • Never admits that he’s wrong
  • Thinks everyone else is an idiot

As a result, he attributes his success to skill, not luck.  He never tries anything new.  One time, I asked him, if you’re an expert, can you teach me what you do?  He didn’t even try.  He’s in stasis.  

How can you have a growth mindset?  Let’s turn these behaviors on their heads.

  • Have strong opinions, loosely held
  • Always assume you’re wrong
  • Find something to learn from everyone you talk to

If you use these, you will constantly encounter new ideas.  You will experiment with the new ideas and you will improve.  

But it can be hard to actively strive for a growth mindset.  Who wants to go into every conversation with the assumption of beingthat you’re wrong?  It’s easier to recognize the signs of a rigid mindset and do the opposite.

Where do you have unshakeable opinions?  When do you go into autopilot mode?  In what way am I wrong?  In what way is this person right?

By questioning the rigidity of your beliefs, you can approach mastery.