Mastery for Beginners: WEEK 1

Let’s face it. We’re not getting any younger. The time has come to go big or go home. James C. Collin’s author of Good to Great says: “Good is the enemy of great”….”Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”  I’ll be honest and tell you that I haven’t actually read the book, but I saw the quote in an article I ready by Benjamin Hardy . It REALLY resonated with me. People often tell me how “talented” I am. I do accept that I am “good” at a lot of skills, however it is now time for me to choose one or two things and get great. So what is it going to be?  

Through some deep investigation into the “WHY” I do what I do, I have found that tap dancing is something that keeps coming back.  I use it in all of my theatre shows and as connection tool in creativity education. It fires up my spirit, which feeds my self confidence and self worth, which has me living with greater purpose, which opens me up to connecting deeper with friends and family, which has me feeling seen, heard and understood. So yeah, super important for me to be tap dancing. Who knew? At the moment my ability is on the edge of great so I’m taking it beyond.

What does Mastery look like? It has been said that mastery is gaining a high level of proficiency and depth of understanding in a discipline. To me it is instant execution from thought or intention to action that includes an interesting and original style. Or as my friend Jesse says in relation to music (and I’m paraphrasing); “An ease in getting what is inside of me, outside of me”. So for tap dancing, it is hearing the rhythm and simultaneously creating it with my feet and body in a unique way. I aim to be highly proficient at tap dance improvising, at creating interesting choreography, at developing character and feeling through movement and rhythm. That’s what I’m doing. 

They say the road to mastery is a lonely road, but does that have to be so? Sure there is a lot of time dedicated to practice, but this week alone I participated in 2 group classes which were fun and social. I spent 2 hours this week teaching what I’ve learned to the Myrtle Sisters and that is always so full of laughs. Next week I begin a contemporary class that will also feed into the interesting ways I can move my body to accompany the rhythms.  All of that is a lot less lonely than Netflix and facebook.  Not to mention, the part where all of this feeds my self worth, which feeds my ability and desire to connect more deeply with other humans. Having said all of that I do understand that there are times when the priority to practice may be chosen over spending time with a loved one, and that may feel lonely. Will it be worth it? I don’t know, but I can only imagine that a greater sense of self satisfaction will bring about a higher quality of presence when I am with my friends and family.

So here is where I tip my hat to the process. FULL RESPECT to the process! Do you know how hard it was for me to film this little video? “NOT READY!!!!!” says that voice. (You know that voice right?) I need to be a little better first. Wait… a little MORE better. But mastery begins NOW. This is my process. This is where I am at RIGHT NOW.

I am 100% in loving acceptance of who I am and where I am at in this exact moment.

In his book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, he claims that it takes an average of 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to reach mastery. In low balling the amount of time I have thus far put towards building a foundation of tap, I think that I am at about 500 hours. That includes 5 years of teenage weekly classes and as an adult, I’m sure I’ve put forward a couple hundred hours developing material for my tap and uke class as well as creation time for the Myrtle Family Band. This week, on my path to mastery I have put in 8 hours. Only 9,492 hours to go!

Here is to week 1.

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