The Path of Mastery – Article 2
To become a master requires first and foremost to find the path that is right for you. It is the path of vocation, which is the expression of your purpose for being here. It is the work you feel you are meant to do. Finding this path is one of the most important, perhaps the most important discovery you can experience.
The path of mastery represents a journey; your personal journey. Getting to mastery requires dedication, discipline, hard work and time. If you are going to make this kind of investment, then finding your vocational path is critical. Vocation feels like “something I cannot not do, for reasons I’m unable to explain or fully understand, but those reasons are still compelling”.
In his book, “Let Your Life Speak”, Parker Palmer states that to hear the voice of vocation we must listen to our lives. If we stop to reflect and remember we can often find that we do have natural inclinations, innate talents and interests, and a native way of being in the world. For some this is so strong and compelling they know from a very early age what they are here to do and never stray from that path. Most of us, however, need to re-discovery what those natural inclinations are and how we can express them through meaningful work.
If we do not have adults around us as we are growing up who listen to us and encourage us to pay attention to our feelings, thoughts, hopes, and dreams, then we may not develop an inner sense of who we really are and what brings us fulfillment. When we experience criticism, anger, or cruelty in life we usually start to adapt to our environment and create a sense of self that becomes our ego-based personality. It is the way we learn to think of ourselves and cope with the challenges of life as we try to get what we want and need. This is different from our native personality or our true self and it sets up an inner conflict.
The ego-based personality, which I will refer to simply as our personality, is focused on survival, getting what it needs and wants, self-protection, pleasing others, conforming, or demanding that others conform to it. It is immature and comes primarily from a place of fear. The authentic self is here for a purpose. The authentic self knows that it has gifts to share with the world and its desire is to express those gifts from a spirit of love. The personality develops for good reasons and has a positive intent, but over time it may become very negative and dysfunctional, or it may appear very positive and function quite well. Even if we are morally compelled to do what we think is the right thing, or if we find ways to succeed based on our strengths and grit, that is not necessarily the same as vocation. Finding vocation is about discovering the agenda of your authentic self, and attaining mastery is a process of realizing your true potential as you develop the knowledge, skills, expertise, and creativity within that vocational path.