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Running Towards Mastery and a Deep Life

·1292 words·7 mins

Mastery is the journey that you take on in your pursuit of your purpose. This is work the resonates with you at a deep level. Only masters can think in larger and large planes of context, while apprentices and novices are striving to understand the main context. How do you get to Mastery? How do you produce works on the plane of Masters of their craft? Based on what I’ve learned from Cal Newport’s ideas on intentional living, what what I’ve read from the The Art of Impossible by Steven Kotler (affiliate link) here’s how I understand how to get there. Let’s go for a run.

All ready to start, but not ready to be there.

To go somewhere, you have to know where you are. It would be unwise to cut everything in your life in the singular pursuit of something that has arrested your attention and inspired you for a brief moment. Cal Newport pushes against the idea of following your passion that has become a pervasive through in the early 2000s. The The Art of Impossible (affiliate link) would identify that as an external motivator, it has its utility but would only take your so far. The path to mastery is steep and will demand deeper well of motivation than what you can yield from a 20 minute youtube video.

The First Step

A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step

Where do you start? Start with yourself, know yourself, not just in the intellectual sense but also in the physical sense. Do you know where your attention goes to each day? Do you know what takes your time? Are your efforts going to places where they need to go? What are your conscious and unconscious habits? This is the first step: to see yourself in the perspective of a grounded reality. How can you do this? Start by just documenting what you did each day and where all of your time and energy went to. Once you’ve done this for a week or more, this will give you the awareness of where your energy is going and where your time is spent. After this we can start walking.

In the Dark

Getting a feel for where we are

You now have someway of knowing where you are and where you want to go. You have goals you want to achieve. What do you do? Let’s take it slow. We are in the dark here and there are a lot of unknowns that you’ve yet to uncover, and that’s to be expected.

Make a small change. This is a small step towards where you want to be in life. It is a habit that is small but significant. It’s small enough that it can be integrated into your life, but a significant enough change to be noticeable to you. Every time you do this, you are telling yourself, I am the kind of person that can make this change happen.

Do this everyday despite what may be happening or how you are feeling. Track these actions. After a significant series of days, you look back and see what you have achieved. In your disciplined action you will see the fruits of that labor. Nice work. You now have evidence that despite what may happen you were still able to make time for this small discipline. This is the seed for your growth mindset or the belief that you can adapt to the challenges the come your way. This skill is a dependency in the later stages. As you do this each day you are cultivating the identity that you are a disciplined person.

Let’s ratchet up. The next step is similar but larger in scale.

Finding Polaris

You’ve been walking in the dark, but you have a better sense of where the obstacles are and know how to avoid it. As you’ve done your daily disciplines you’ve identified the important aspects of your life, you now have a better sense of what you value and what is important to you. You have a deeper sense of who you are or at least some inclination of what you want to become. These will be your values. Cal Newport outlines them in 3 different components which are: your Code, your Routines and your Rituals.

Your code is the framework for how you conduct yourself and outlines that identities that are important to you, for example:

  • I am reliable
  • I always go the extra mile
  • I am a good father

It is a framework by which your decisions will be compared against. Your rituals are actions that you commit to that reinforces your values (for example: the discipline you picked up in the early stage). Your routines are the actions you do periodically that support your values. What is important here is that you understand who you are, what you value.

With this you’ve found your north start, your Polaris, in the night sky. You now know where you are going, let’s go discuss how to get there.

Keeping cadence towards control

You now know where you are heading, and are taking strides towards that goal: to become the person you want to be. You keep the cadence, the rhythm of your routines, you pace. By now you have noticed something. Life rarely cares. Events often become obstacles in your pursuits. Despite your best efforts, you now know that to achieve what you want, to do the work you need, you must protect it. This is where Time Block Planning and Planning at Different Perspectives work to your benefit.

This will take time. That is Ok. This is the place where you are mining for the resource that So Good They Can’t Ignore You (affiliate link) calls Career Capital. This is the trust that you’ve gained by work with others in being so good at your work that it is undeniable. The key here is that as you continue in your journey, you keep the pace by standing up controls to make sure important things get done. With this you’ll continue to gather Career Capital and time, this will be the fuel that you can use for a remarkable life.

Run, Raise, Repeat for the Remarkable

You are now taking strides towards your big aspirations that you have. This is where the exciting things happen. Cal Newport outlines different areas in life where meaningful actions happen in he calls the Deep Life Buckets. Listed they are:

  • Community: involving other people
  • Contemplation: involving your mind and soul
  • Craft: involving the work or value you provide to the world
  • Constitution: involving your health
  • Celebration: involving enjoyment that life has to offer.

In each of these you already exhibit some form of activity. Some areas in each of these buckets may be overflowing, while others are bone dry. At this stage, you’ve created the capital necessary to invest and create a remarkable life. Choose one to reconfigure to be remarkable. It is your choice. It is up to you to define what remarkable looks like. What would you want to raise to the next level? Where do you want to invest your newly gained time? This is where the impossible gets done.

Iterate, Iterate, Iterate

Do good work

Life is never fair; but it is probabilistic. Circumstances out of your control may come your way and destroy the routines and rituals that you’ve established. That is okay. You can pick things back up and run up again to do the impossible. This process is iterative, meaning, you return to the earlier stages and improve your approaches based on what you’ve learned.

Do good work. I look forward to seeing what comes of it. Let me know!