Working Towards Mastery

Every day, mastery gets me up,  puts my clothes on me,  slips my shoes on my feet, brushes my teeth, washes my face, brews my hot cup of java, gets me to work, and etc.

I don’t have to focus on HOW to do these things – I just do them.

Let’s look at skill acquisition and consciousness. By consciousness, I mean conscious awareness. The following is based on the 4 levels of competence, generally attributed to Abraham Maslow to which we’ve added a fifth level:

  1. Unconsciously Unskilled – I am unaware of a skill or my need for it.
  2. Consciously Unskilled – I am aware of a skill I want and believe I don’t possess it, yet I believe I can achieve it.
  3. Consciously Skilled – I believe I am skilled and that I can use it at any time by focusing enough attention on how I do it.
  4. Unconsciously Skilled – I do the skill without any further attention to HOW TO DO IT or whether I possess it. Like tying my shoes or speaking my native language, I can do it without conscious attention.
  5. Mastery – I am no longer aware of the skill as a skill that I DO. I have EMBODIED it into my perception of who I AM.

This philosophy is built on a HAVE – DO – BE progression. That is, I must first HAVE in order to DO in order to BE. In the above progression, it seems to me that skill is the object of my desire – that is, I want to obtain (have) a certain skill in order to perform (do) some task using that skill in order to be proficient enough to no longer have to think about performing the skill; lastly, I want to master the skill, which requires much practice over sufficient time. Practice makes perfect!

It’s a “tried and true” progression in which I’m quite practiced.

I love to question my assumptions of “tried and true.” What if, instead of progressing from unskilled to skilled to mastery, I to turn the Have-Do-Be order around? What might happen were I to start out with consciousness of my Mastery?

BE -> DO -> Have

That is: 1) consciously BE the master of a skill in order to 2) DO what a master does in order to 3) HAVE the skill of a master. It’s still a progression that may, itself, be a skill I can acquire with practice: perfect practice makes perfect.

It’s still a progression!!! I’m still in the old “tried and true” habit!!!

This leads me to wonder: What might happen were I to simply “wake up” to my mastery? No skill progression necessary. Doing and Having would simply Be aspects of who I AM.

The simple truth is – that’s what is happening already.

I don’t have to work at mastery of being me. I just AM. Yet, why am I not an Olympic athlete, for example – or a millionaire, or a rock star? Why can’t I BE what I want to be? Why do I have to work hard to achieve what I want? Why do I have to follow the “tried and true” method?

WHO says I’m not the way I want to be? Who says I have to follow the skills acquisition progression method? Who says I can’t be whatever I want to be? Who says?!! ME, that’s who!

I am already master of my own universe. I AM THE ONE.

I don’t have to acquire any skill to BE the center of my universe. I am the one doing the perceiving, interpreting, and believing in that universe. It’s ALL ME – every skill, every job, every value, every bit of it – ME.

What if I were to become AWARE that I AM ALL – that every aspect of every perception IS ME? What happens when I consider that the map – my perception – is not the territory it represents – reality? What if I realized that the map is just ONE aspect of the territory – the territory being ALL that IS – the BELIEFS of the ONE doing the perceiving? ME!

Why, then, does it seem that I must WORK to achieve a level of mastery? Why? Fear, that’s why!

Fear is a representation of my belief in separation – an imagined condition in which I hold an image of me separate from all. It is a defender of the old, “tried and true” progression.

Mastering life and enjoying life to its fullest is surprisingly easy – JUST LET GO OF FEAR!

Release of Fear => Awakening => Life Mastery

You could say that skills mastery is the result of adequate practice in relinquishing fear expressed as control – how to do something. On the journey to Mastery, you may experience letting go of control or “How to’s” – like…

  • How to get your spouse to properly eat, sleep, chew gum, spend money, operate the toothpaste tube, treat you and the kids, etc.
  • How to get other people to like you.
  • How to make more money.
  • How you’ll make that next payment…
  • How to… whatever…

When you learn HOW TO do something, you’ve learned a skill through control – the “tried and true” progression. As you practice your skill, you become more accomplished at it and less enslaved to control – until, in time, you relinquish control – “How To” do it – and achieve a degree of mastery of it that is YOU. “Whew! That was difficult! Must be worth it, then! I’m making progress!” Progression, progression, progression!!!

Even now, you have used the progression method to master a great many skills that you believe define who you ARE by what you DO…

  • A parent/spouse the way YOU do it
  • An expert at self-talk (probably much of it negative)
  • The best judge of yourself and others – adept at setting reasonable punishments for misbehavior
  • Perfect at justifying behaviors, thoughts, body image, economic status/level, social position, feelings, and identity
  • THE standard of what is RIGHT most or all of the time
  • etc., etc., etc…

And exhausted yourself in the process!

Making the BIG CHANGE

Let’s say I become aware that I want to acquire a new skill – or maybe trade in an old one from the list above for a new one. I could look at it like we did at the beginning of this article – requiring me to work my way through the HAVE-DO-BE progression of skill acquisition – earning my mastery the old “tried and true” way…


I might simply release my fear, which awakens me to who I AM – the change I want to experience. I don’t have to acquire skills by climbing Maslow’s hill – when I can simply wake up and realize I’ve had them ALL along.

I now choose to master my life by waking up to it.

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