Artistry & Mastery: The Missing Ingredients

My Photo that now lives on my wall at home

Have you ever awoken with that hole in your soul?

That sort of empty feeling that needs to be kept at bay by busy work, or else it threatens to engulf you entirely. It is hard to identify and even harder to ignore, and it makes you question. What am I doing here? Why am I doing this? What is the point? Is there something else I should be doing?

I am sure you have. I believe everyone experiences this feeling to differing intensities, and different frequencies. If you experience it intensely and often you are likely to be diagnosed as depressed. A short sharp attack on a quiet day and you are merely a bit ‘blue’.

So why am I mentioning this in a business blog?
-Good question, I’m glad you asked.

Psychologists and philosophers have often said that humans are ‘purpose driven’ as long as there is a purpose or goal or problem to be worked on, solved or pursued people seem to cope quite well. But remove these and people become uncertain, lose confidence, and generally act indecisively.

None of this is earth shattering to you, I am sure. Most of us are quite aware of the deflation we get soon after we have achieved a goal. The longer we have striven and toiled in pursuit of the goal, the more intense the feeling of deflation after our celebration. Until we choose a new goal and carry on.

But if this was the only thing that affected us this way we would be a world full of goal ‘junkies’ seeking bigger and bigger goals for a bigger buzz and a deeper deflation.
-I am guessing that you know a person or two like this in business.

There is something that can even things out for us. Now I don’t suggest a Valium style ‘flat-lining’ of your life, we need ups and downs in life to make the whole thing interesting and to learn.

I’m talking about a quest for Mastery, the pursuit of Artistry in your business or profession that can make a huge difference to most people.

I have spent a couple of days watching episodes of Pitchmen, and reading some stuff on writing and marketing (yes, this is what I do for fun. no, I haven’t yet seen a doctor about it). And it occurred to me that Billy Mays and Anthony Sullivan were constantly working on their craft. Constantly challenging themselves to up their game and take themselves and each other to the next level.

This isn’t the pursuit of  a solitary goal, this is a continuous process towards mastery.

I have also been reading  Every Writer Needs a Tribe: A Practical Guide to Finding Your Audience and the author suggests that as a writer (or entrepreneur) you should focus on improving the artistry of your craft, the mastery of what it is that you do.

But what if you pursue mastery only to find that you don’t have what it takes to be the best at that skill or discipline?
The answer given:

Do we chase the allure of mastery only to be disappointed years down the line? Or do we abdicate to mediocrity, giving up before we even begin? Neither sounds very appealing.

Instead let’s do something else: Chase passion not mastery

Let’s find something we love so much that it drives us to want to be the best in the world. And when we find that we are not, may we shrug with indifference because we love doing it anyway.

That passage really resonated with me.

I started Kyokushin Karate after I had left school at age 16. I was very small for my age, and the club was a pretty rough environment back then. But I loved the dual aspect of strategy and physical discipline. Because I loved it I kept persevering.

Demonstration in Gibraltar around 1991

In fact my instructor Pete Jennings, spoke at my wedding eight years later he said: “Once in a lifetime, a person comes into the dojo who has an immediate grasp on everything they are taught, they seem to instinctively move into the right positions and they naturally and fluidly take to fighting. Chris was the opposite of that person.”

At the time he said that I had achieved my Black belt 3 years before, I had made the New Zealand squad for a full contact tournament against Australia, and I had been voted instructor of the year twice by students at our dojo.
-I achieved this from someone who had absolutely no physical aptitude when I started out. I wasn’t the best in the world, and never would be (not even close), but I was happy with what I had accomplished.

This is the power of mastery through continuous application and practice of something you love to do.

So what does this mean to you?

Many business owners that I come across have lost that gleam in their eye that I am sure they had when they started their business. They have gotten so bogged down in the daily tasks that they have forgotten the visions they had that got them there.

Hairdressers who were artists in their craft, and wanted to do more, became owners of their own salon, and found themselves so busy managing others, paying bills, and organising advertising that they have no time to practice the craft that they love so much.

You need to fall back in love with your craft.

This is not as hard as it sounds if you know what it is that you love.

Another friend of mine recently revitalised his training career through a restructure. He had a wide range of tasks and responsibilities, and all he seemed to do was bounce from one to the other, never doing any of them to anything approaching a level of mastery. All his outputs were the best he could manage in the time frame given all of the other tasks on his plate.

Then there was a restructure in the company instead of being responsible for training design, development and delivery, his new role was just delivery. He knows exactly what is expected of him. He has dedicated himself to be the best facilitator in the company and this simplification of his role is allowing him to be far more valuable to the company than he could ever have been juggling multiple responsibilities in the past.

So the question is obvious:
How can you eliminate or delegate the tasks that take you away from the craft that you love?

Because when you do, you will be able to really add value to your business. You will become an inspiration to your staff and clients, and you will be seen as someone who is dedicated to their craft, an expert. And best of all you will have fun!


About Chris Hanlon

Chris has worked in or owned small businesses most of his life, before lured into the corporate world where he spent over a decade. However his passion for small business has remained, and taken life in The Profit Wizard blog, his published book, and some coaching he does for a variety of businesses. You can follow Chris on Twitter @TheProfitWizard


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