How To Become A MASTER In Your Field – Domain Maps, Deliberate vs Normal Practice, Reading vs Implementation and Why Talent Is “Overrated”
“The time that leads to Mastery, is dependent on the intensity of our focus” – Robert Greene
Mastery by definition is having comprehensive knowledge or skill in a subject or accomplishment. Achieving Mastery in anything, whether that be chess, a sport, business pursuit, or even in your creative endeavors is possible for anyone with the determination to reach their end goal. Whilst the cliches of “work hard”, and “practice makes perfect” ring true, there are more nuanced and tactical ways of approaching Mastery more rapidly.
In this article, we are going to look at a few keys to becoming Masters in our respective fields, and how we can fine tune and personalize these points to help us to gain expertise and knowledge faster.
Deliberate vs Normal Practice
The first key in how we can achieve mastery is in how we practice. Practice is the very foundation we build our skills around and without practice, mental muscle would atrophy and our skills would become rusty.
Practice reinforces our motor patterns and helps our bodies and brains become more accustomed to doing things autonomously vs having to have a heavy amount of input and conscious thought to accomplish something.
With that being said, once we are no longer a beginner, our practice tends to become more mindless. We strum the same notes on the guitar, format our articles in the same ways, and use the same skating drills on the rink.
This is where Deliberate Practice comes into play. Whilst normal practice is mindless repetition, deliberate practice is a systematic, and self analyzing approach.
To use deliberate practice you must break down every nuanced detail about how you practice, and find holes in your technique, or artistry.
For example, if you are a comedian looking to have more presence on stage, or become more funny, you can practice in front of the mirror to gain confidence, take material from the news and skew it into a different, humorous way, or even join a comedy club and do an improv gig. All of these are greats ways of practicing and will help you immensely in becoming a better comedian.
However, to employ deliberate practice on top of your regular routine is what will inevitably make you a cut above the rest. Watching reels and reels of comedy routines, writing down all the jokes with notes on the tone, issues, delivery methods etc, then finding commonalities and piecing them together for reference, and self analyzing your routines in accordance with that, is how you accelerate your ascent to Mastery.
Domain maps are a medium for deliberate practice to express itself, and will give you that much more reference for becoming proficient in all encompassing traits, and skills of your craft.
A domain map can be drawn, and is essentially a large circle, with everything you can be knowledgeable about in your field written inside, with a smaller circle inside, that represents everything you currently know.
The simplicity of this concept is what makes it great, and both circles can, and will be added to (depending on your level of proficiency in that certain area). Whilst people who are more experienced will add less to these domain maps, beginners will always be adding new concepts and ideas to the maps, looking to become more proficient in them.
Reading vs Implementation
Reading and not implementing, or vice versa is one of the deadliest traps we as humans fall into when becoming better at something. It halts any progress we can make, and locks away information in our brains that we inevitably forget without proper implementation.
Reading hundreds of books about perfecting your slap shot means nothing if you aren’t following that up with physical practice. Likewise, practice is not truly practice unless you are learning how to accelerate your skills, and tweaking them back on the drawing board, and on the rink.
Based on research, it takes 10,000 hours (10 years) of practice to become a virtuoso at anything, and that is of actual physical, real life, in the work place, on the court, or in the office experience.
Learn to manage your information seeking side, and your implementation side to become a Master at your niche.
Why Talent Is “Overrated”
When most of us think of highly skilled individuals at any particular niche we usually have the notion that these people are gifted in a particular area, and are purely naturals who have ascended to the top. Whilst genetics are always going to be a limiting factor in some areas more than others (You are going to have a hard time becoming an NBA star if you are 5’5, and likewise a horse jockey if you are 6’+) experts have agreed that exceptional talent is a function of hard work overtime.
Remember, to become an “expert” in a field or skill, requires somewhere in the ballpark of 10,000 hours of dedicated time for skill acquisition. Whilst this number can go up and down depending on how naturally gifted you are at your craft, anyone with this in the back of their mind can become proficient at whatever it is they choose to be invested in.
It may be hard to fathom hard work over inherent advantages in genetics whether that is physically or mentally, so let me give you a more concrete, personal example.
When I first started weight training a couple years ago, I was 110 lbs soaking wet, and one of the least genetically gifted individuals in terms of bone structure, limb length, muscle insertions and bellies etc. This put me in the classification of being genetically built more for speed than strength or building muscle.
I remember starting to go to the gym when I was in Vancouver and picking up some weights for the first time and being completely gassed curling 20 lb dumbbells. This was the beginning of my passion for fitness, and striving to become not only fit for my genetic specifications, but in general. I researched everything I needed to know all day and all night during this time, and in combination with training and fine tuning my diet, I made significant progress in a short amount of time.
Fast forward to last year where I hit “Elite” level strength standards for Squats, Dead lifts, and Bench Press for my body weight, have been offered multiple times by people in my local gyms to enter Power Lifting contests, and am consistently lifting the heaviest loads in the gym on most days, whilst still being the smallest guy there. At 120 lbs I had a 275 lb Squat, a 315 Deadlift, and a 155 Incline Bench, all advanced lifts for my body weight.
The work ethic and time I invested was more than enough to overcome the fact that having small wrist and ankles would doom me to never being able to lift heavy, or that I was built for speed and not strength.
Mastery over anything is not easy. It takes planning, research, time invested, and progression. If any aspect of that link is broken or lacking, it could result in stagnation, or even regression.
Your passion may wax and wane, but at the end of the day if something is important to you, finding a way to excel at it is a natural progression.
Just make sure you back that progression with some careful planning and diligent self analysis, and you will be well on the road to master any area of your life.