The 30 Steps to Mastery

The commenter Onjibonrenat, on my post How to Draw an Owl, adds a few more steps to the process of achieving mastery:

1. Start
2. Keep going.
3. You think you're starting to get the hang of it.
4. You see someone else's work and feel undeniable misery.
5. Keep going.
6. Keep going.
7. You feel like maybe, possibly, you kinda got it now.
8. You don't.
9. Keep going.
10. You ask for someone else's opinion–their response is standoffish, though polite.
11. Depression.
12. Keep going.
13. Keep going.
14. You ask someone else's opinion–their response is favorable.
15. They have no idea what they're talking about.
16. Keep going.
17. You feel semi-kinda favorable and maybe even a little proud of what you can do now.
18. Self-loathing chastisement.
19. Depression
20. Keep going.
21. You ask someone else's opinion–they respond quite favorably.
22. They're still wrong.
23. Depression.
24. Keep going though you can't possibly imagine why.
25. Become restless.
26. Receive some measure of praise from a trustworthy opinion.
27. They're still fucking wrong (Right?)
28. Keep going just because there's nothing else to do.
29. Mastery arrives, you mistake it for a gust of wind.
30. Keep. Fucking. Going.

11 comments on “The 30 Steps to Mastery
  • haha, very impressive. Just do not quit. This always works.. Action is not always fun, but there is no fun without action.

  • The big question is, what keeps you going, in the face of all these hardships?
    Mine was “because I can’t imagine doing anything else that I would continue to work so hard at while being so completely incompetent”. If you’re OK with being the “world’s worst” at whatever you do, and continue to do it regardless, you’re on the road to mastery.

    Re #26, I knew I was on the right track when my grumpy Ph.D supervisor told me a year into my work that “I hadn’t been a total disaster so far”. I told my labmates. “Wow, he said that to you? He never told *me* that!”

  • The 4 steps of sales:

    1) you know nothing
    2) you make a sale and think you know everything
    3) something blows up and you think you know nothing
    4) you sell a little more and know you know something. Something about yourself and something about people

  • James, along those same lines, at the end of one very depressing semester, my high school French teacher told me, “Denis, tu n’est pas aussi bete que tu n’en a l’air.” And then I was able to breathe again.

  • Great post. I’m currently reading “Drive” by Dan Pink in which he suggest that those who pursue an activity b/c of intrinsic motivations are more likely to get through the periods of self-doubt and depression.

    My favorite steps. I think these run on repeat sometimes haha
    14. You ask someone else’s opinion–their response is favorable.
    15. They have no idea what they’re talking about.

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