Jan 28, 2013

Mastery or Mystery

I'm reading Mastery by Greene, which illustrates how to become a master of a subject or field of interest with examples of people famous and obscure.  The claim is that mastery lies within each of us, should we choose to develop it.  And you develop it with years of hard work as an apprentice under a mentor.

As I'm reading this, I read an article in a recent Mishpacha magazine about a frum English fellow who is considered the "king of comedy" in the mainstream media.  This is rather extraordinary, of course, since the mainstream media and its comic productions aren't quite the environment we would expect a frum Jew to thrive in.  In any case, he had no intentions of becoming a producer or having anything at all to do with the entertainment industry.  He was an intellectual who was studying, of all things, 17th century Christian theology, in Cambridge (not that he believed this theology).  So how does someone doing graduate work in an obscure academic subject become king of comedy?

He was looking for a job and a friend suggested he look at the want ads in a certain paper.  He saw that the BBC was looking for a comedy producer and he applied and was accepted.  His first week on the job he met an old childhood friend and they did a show together which made his friend a star and made him a star producer.  Just like that! No years of study, no apprenticing under a mentor, no honing his skills and being faced with failure and having to persevere.  Simply a completely new field that he stumbled across in which he was and is wildly successful.  He has found his passion.

So what the moral of the story is, I don't know.  Who needs a book on mastery and years of perseverance when a fabulous job one never dreamed of, could fall into your lap? Ah, but who says it will ...

For those who have always had a interest in a particular field, the guidelines of how to become a master are pertinent. 

The Chovos Ha'Levavos says to choose a profession by what you are attracted to and for which you have a natural talent.  But then there are the life stories which I periodically come across in which a person ends up with a job or hobby which was completely unexpected and delightful nonetheless.

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