AMP II: Mastery – The joy of learning

Mastery is perhaps one of the most interesting ones. The quest for knowledge and the desire to constantly improve in whatever you are passionate about is a powerful driving force.

Consider the example of a budding young soccer player who starts playing at the age of 8. By the time this young player gets to the point of playing professional or college soccer, he/she would have practiced for over 10,000 hours for many years. That’s a lot of touches on the ball, and an insane amount of skill developed through years of repetition and deliberate practice. It takes patience and unrelenting perseverance. Yes, some kids are born with a natural inclination towards the sport and some amount of talent. But that’s only going to get you so far. It takes dedication, humility, and a love for learning, in most cases, without any ambition at all…just a complete dedication to the sport, that lifts said player to greater heights (and some amount of luck to remain injury free, but that’s for another blog).

People dedicate countless hours of their free time towards mastery of something. It could be that they have a long-term goal that beckons, or just the sheer joy of learning and the delight of the experience that consumes them.

Recognizing this source of motivation is crucial. Mastery sustains personal and professional growth, and success breeds success. Mastery at something motivates one to reach higher and higher. It’s human nature, so why fight it.

Along with Autonomy, Mastery is a key component of work culture. Cultivating and encouraging this joy of learning is a win-win for everyone. I think supporting any kind of learning either as a group or even just encouraging people to educate one another is excellent team building as well.

But more importantly, supporting the application of the knowledge acquired through test-drives and experimentation continues this learning and improvement process. This is an essential part of Mastery that is often missed, and ties closely with Autonomy. Overloading your teams with countless commitments without leaving room for learning is a short-term gain, but a long-term disaster. Let’s accept learning and mastery for what they are, and let the joy of it permeate through our organizations.


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