The Art of Mastery

by Ugonma Okoroafor, NPJ Intern

Mastery implies control. It is an evolutionary aspect of the human brain. Both an intellectual and social factor in human development.

Mastery is not something that is automatic for it is learned and retains an element of talent. Talent is different in any given individual and not always visible. Talent to be effective and visible requires cultivation. In formal teaching we learn the importance of depending on an understanding of logic, awareness and reasoning, with those understandings will reveal true talent. In order to unlock our ultimate power, we learn through observation and experiments.

We as humans naturally develop a strategy to survive. And to have strong survival skills, we must develop our social intelligence. In our current culture there is a new strategy for problem solving. We no longer look at an issue strictly as an observable issue. Instead, there is a negotiation between the people and the process to reveal patterns of how we think.

In life, we learn that if we remain in our youthful aspiration mindset, we improve our chances through focus to achieve the best. A young person’s mind is adaptable and may generally focus on receiving a reward or an affirmation of self-worth for their effort. And as an example, with a child‘s “dream mindset” we are more likely to put in a better effort. So that when we grow into adulthood we do so through our child-like self.

Robert Greene, an author, said, “As you accumulate more skills and internalize the rules that govern your field, your mind will want to become more active, seeking to use the knowledge in ways that are more suited to your inclinations.”

People learn from awareness and understanding of their own thought process. That is the psychological aspect of development.

Ideas are filtered through the mind, some very naturally. To understand it better, you must activate that process of learning with curiosity and questioning. The process engages the conscious and unconscious thinking used in problem solving. When we are given a task to complete, we think about the consciousness, the things you learned in class or a job training. The unconscious is a natural thought we create with the ideas already developed.

The process of developing a skill requires adhering to a pattern. If we find pleasure in a task or activity that we are doing, we invest our time and money. Like any other thing in life there are phases. We will experience a moment of clarity and then uncertainty. But those feelings are just part of the journey.

In the past, cultures were governed by religion and a tribe mentality. Adaptation quickly changed the focus. The modern world created a new idea on patterns – that people cultivated a vital role that emphasized the importance of habits. When it comes to mastery, we learn about people over objects. Mastery requires patience. Randy Pausch, an educator said, “Wait, and people will show you their good side.”

Our thought process through Mastery will begin to change. We will want to change assumptions rather than pass judgement. Mastery is redefining problems and creating innovative solutions. To portray the qualities of a master, you will need to work well with others, and apologize by saying sorry when you are at fault. After you have internalized your rules, accumulated skills, and awakened a well-rounded mind you have achieved a greater understanding of mastery. In other words, to be a master begins with controlling oneself.

A major reason of our evolutionary patterns of survival is through learning and teaching. The reflection of what we have learned will be in our work. People look to leaders for advice and guidance. The intellectual powers and equating or balanced thinking taught to us will be copied in the actions of others. The work of a master is motivation to a student. The art of mastery is linked to our self and other awareness and includes our professionalism which in essence is part of our social and intellectual development.


Greene, R. (2012). Mastery. Penguin.

Pausch, R. (2008). The Last Lecture. Hyperion.

*Ms. Okoroafor has her B.A. in Journalism from Rutgers University and is working on her Masters at Full Sail University.