A quick thought on learning vs mastery and why each has their place.
You would have heard a quote one time or another that states that “You must be a student of life and never stop learning”. This can be interpreted in many different ways, however, most people take it as they need to learn new things and expand their mind constantly. This isn’t always the case when mastery comes into the equation.
- Learning – “The acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught.”
- Mastery – “Comprehensive knowledge or skill in a particular subject or activity.”
Both have their place. Learning is what you might do when you’re trying to solve a problem, just trying to get by or even for fun or casual uses. Mastery is what you might do when you’re trying to become better and more efficient or even without you knowing just by performing at a high level for an extended period of time.
Understanding concepts is a massive piece of the puzzle and separates learning and mastering. When you learn a new task there are two ways to go about it. The first is taking the quickest path to the end to get the results you’re looking for and not “wasting” time with anything else. The other is taking the time to understand and learn the ins and outs of why and what you’re learning. There are a time and place for both but taking the time to learn the concepts behind something is the first step towards mastery. Sometimes you don’t have the need or time to begin on the path to mastering something so getting through it as quickly as possible is a fair trade-off.
Something to remember is that causal learning for the sake of enjoyment and curiosity often turns into mastery if you do it long enough, but not always. Mastery normally occurs over time without much thought or a final goal to aim for.
Thinking about what direction you want to go when next you need to acquire additional knowledge in an area might help you achieve your desired results quicker letting you focus on exactly what you want for longer.
I’ll leave you with a thought-provoking quote from John Wooden that leans on the side of mastery:
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”