When I’m working, I typically listen to different podcasts rather than consistently listen to music. It mellows me out while still keeping my mind engaged. One of my favorite podcasts, right now, is Jeff Goins’ The Portfolio Life. He uses his platform to encourage creatives to find the work they love to do and simply start doing it. Although, it is geared towards other creatives, the self-development lessons are universal. This post is adapted from his podcast titled, “088: Three Stages of Personal Development Borrowed from The Middle Ages.” There are 3 inevitable stages of self-development that I believe every person consciously or unconsciously follows in order to achieve personal development and success.
In ancient times, only a select pedigree of people could attend a university, so many young people eager to work became an Apprentice to Masters in a particular trade. It usually took an Apprentice 7 years to learn the intricacies of a trade, long enough to be able to obtain their own clients or customers. Usually, during this period, all the work the Apprentice performed was accredited to the Master.
This process must have been a humbling for them. I know for me, it always made me feel a kind of way to perform well during an internship, but not get much credit for my work. Hardest times were learning that even if I performed well, I still didn’t have enough wisdom to branch out on my own like I thought. Failed attempts can be very humbling. I quickly learned after taking a client or two on the side that I needed to continue to grow my knowledge base and skill sets before I considered myself a master in that area. Being both ambitious and impatient, I’ve learned that life isn’t a race to accomplish the next goal. It’s better to learn, as much as, you can about your industry or hobby. Learn about how it works and what makes it profitable, before jumping to take clients. You may not need 7 years to do it, but you do need some time to grow and improve.
During this stage, the Apprentice is encouraged to find work for compensation. They leave their homes and familiar surroundings and journey out to try to make a living with the skills they have learned.
Until this podcast, I thought I was well into my Journeymen stage in various areas of my life with the skills I developed over the years in my career and through my personal interests. However, I realized that depending on the type of work I’m focusing on at the moment, I’m still in the Apprenticeship stage. Therein lies the problem. I wasn’t consistent with the type of work I’ve been doing. Yes, I was practicing law, but that was the only consistent work I’ve done and I consistently dreaded it. My personal interests were all over the place; event designer, floral designer, graphic designer, natural wig maker, etc. until I began to hone in on what I love doing without being enticed by profit to do it. Even though I feel like I’ve taken the longer route to self discovery, I don’t regret the process. I was able to experiment with different creative interests and have learned personal characteristics that wasn’t clear to me before. Likewise, even though the Journeymen stage may seem very enticing, don’t prematurely move to this stage unless you have convinced yourself that you have learned everything you need to know to excel.
The Master stage occurred when the Journeymen came back to their Master to show a portfolio of their work to a group of Masters for constructive criticism. Once the Masters approve the high quality of their work, they were invited to join the league of Masters to become one of them. Thus, the cycle continued.
I’m personally aware that I’m far from being a master. I’m sure a lot of us believe we are Masters. Constantly, looking for approvals from others. But in order to be great, we have to study our craft and perfect our skills. One of my flaws is consistency. At times, I struggle with consistently producing quality work on a regular basis. It’s not easy working full time while building a business, but it’s doable. Many people have become Masters in their crafts while working full-time, so I (we) have no excuse. These days acute focus is my modus operandi. If I stay consistent and diligent, I know I will get to the Mastery level, and I believe you will too.
What skills or creative pursuits are you trying to master?