“ Do not think what is hard for you to master is humanly impossible; and if it is humanly impossible, consider it to be within your reach” Marcus Aurelius
The term apprenticeship was conceived during the Middle Age, a time period when family businesses were expanding and in need of a skilled workforce. That time marks the beginning of today's internships as the firsts forms of practical training appeared. Back in the day, masters devoted from 5 to 7 years training their naïve apprentices with their techniques, who then became masters after passing an “exam". Today, as society is more complex than ever in history and the need for complex skills has sky rocketed, the process to acquire skills has adapted. However, I think that it can be useful to look at the apprenticeship process of many masters during the middle age, the industrial revolution and this last century as a way of drawing tips on how to acquire and master complex skills, which are in so much need in todays economy.
Mastering a skill is one of the best investments one can do because it is the ultimate commodity that will pay dividends for decades. Firstly, you must select one skill to master because it increases the size of the frontal lobe in the brain and hardwires connections that prepare the brain for mastering future skills. It is a painful process. You must build mental strength to move beyond these firsts stages and ultimately achieve mastery. Secondly, you must use a proactive learning method and transform your mind and character to the person who you ultimately aim to become. Humans have the longest infancy of all mammals and during childhood, we develop learning habits based in the passive absorption of information that must be adapted through a more critical approach as we grow up. Mastering a skill is a long process, good things take time, be patient.
The tips given in this post, are drawn from Robert Green’s work in his book called Mastery where he studies the apprenticeship process of successful masters and presents different strategies that each person can use to tailor and craft their own road. The 8 tips presented are drawn from the stories of some of the most prominent masters in history. Be aware that there are no exact rules to achieve mastery and that in today’s world it can be done in many ways but its generally the result of combining graduate school and practice.
1. Value Learning Over Money
Choose the internship opportunity that allows you to best acquire and develop skills and not one with a fat paycheck. Do not make the mistake to gear your learning years towards pleasing and impressing the right people. Instead devote this years to acquire and master skills that will pay you dividends for a long time. Also, use this opportunity to learn how to get by with little money and make the most of your youthful energy.
2. Keep Expanding Your Horizon
Add dimensions to your world, explore the unknown and try new things without settling. The reality is that no one will really help nor give you direction. Struggle against limitations and expose yourself to the world because this will expand your mind and force yourself into new circles and challenges. You must use this stage as a process of self discovery.
3. Revert to a feeling of inferiority
As we learn and grow up, the human mind uncosciently closes off to new ideas, which has the detrimental effect of decreasing our learning capabilities. In order to acquire new skills as an adult, it is a good idea to reverse to a children’s sense of inferiority because it gives humans the hunger to learn.
4. Trust the Process
The process will be hard. You must visualize the future and have faith in it, with the aim to avoid frustration and be mentally strong to not quit. Trusting that it will happen will allow the natural learning process to move forward and everything else will fall into place
5. Move Toward resistance and Pain
Develop a strong discipline and a sense of criticism that allows you to become your own critic. Practice your weakest skills and ultimately develop a resistance practice by going against your natural tendencies when it comes to practice.
6. Apprentince yourself in failure
There are two kinds of failure. The first one results from never trying. The second one happens when you try and fail. Make sure that you fail because you tried it out and not because you missed on the opportunity.
7. Combine the “theory” and the “practice"
Make sure to find an equilibrium between the concepts and the practical knowledge as you apply what you have learnt through your formal education and you face new challenges and opportunities.
8. Detach from emotions
Try to detach yourself from emotions with the aim to be able to analyze with perspective the events in your life. Do not make the mistake of spending too much time engaged with emotional issues because it inhibits your capabilities to reflect and learn from past experiences.