Mastery — 17

This post is part of Project: Inception, written ~8 years ago. It has been untouched from its original, pseudonymous, form. It is also part of the larger “farewell” tour and countdown as I turn-off this blog and head to the metaverse where I will live out the rest of my wonderful days. I hope to see you there!

Mastery

I greatly desire to become a master of the things that I enjoy, love and am obsessed over. Unfortunately for many these things are not necessarily shared interests that help better relationships and ease relational dynamics.

For example, I care infinitely about the semantic publishing technology protocols that mobile developers use to capture and distribute content around the web simultaneously through a variety of tools and I want to be masterful at building them and using them for my own needs. I will spend hours in dead silence staring at a body of code to make sure that it produces exactly the right output. I want to master it, to be the very best at it, and to continue my pursuit of excellence as far as I can possibly go.

But, I care next to nothing about most other things, including how to wash the dishes “correctly” and the right way to fold and put away the laundry (why bother when all that I need is at the top of the pile?). As you might imagine and may already be familiar with, it can be incredibly frustrating for others to watch a creative aspie dedicate thousands of hours into the minutiae of something seemingly insignificant while we can’t spend 2 minutes learning how to insert detergent into a diswasher.

But that’s how my mind works and I am no longer apologetic about it although I am somewhat sorry that I cause my spouse so much grief about simple things. My mastery has it’s own interest and it just so happens that none of them are related to domestic chores.

Although, I will admit, that I am becoming better at “keeping house” – I am a reasonable person and have learned that sometimes doing the dishes is the best gift that I can give my spouse.

I believe that all men and women desire mastery in their existence, that all people want to be good at something, much more than just being mediocre. This is the reason why so many people hate their jobs and have a difficult time getting up in the morning and going to work. This is why there is so much dissatisfaction among the working class as they head to work in unfulfilling jobs with little to no purpose other than a bi-weekly paycheck.

It’s because mastery is not a part of their environment or their opportunity – it’s been stripped away and instead they are focused on tasks that do not even provide the smallest amount of entertainment or enjoyment. A sad state of affairs, if you ask me.

Aspie creatives find mastery as intuitive as breathing – we zero in on the things that we love and begin to learn everything we possibly can about the subject matter. If it requires some sort of skill then we’ll take all the time we need to develop it and hone it to a razor-fine point. We are masters at pursuing mastery and it’s something that makes us incredibly unique and well-suited for specific tasks and roles within an organization or business.

I was lucky as I found my way into roles that allowed my obsessions and my master over them create a financial reward based on my diligence and execution. Not everyone is so lucky, but it’s something for all men, autistic or not, to strive for.

Here are a couple things that you can learn from an aspie creative in terms of mastery:

1. Time

We dedicated an enormous amount of time investing in our skills, our interests, and our related work in whatever field we’re interested in. We make time for it as it’s more than just a hobby, it’s an obsession. Now, we may neglect good things, like eating and sleeping on occasion in our pursuit but with great help, accountability, and even some therapy I’ve managed to moderate my time spent into chunks that make much more sense, especially as I have other obligations and roles to fill.

Anyone pursuing mastery over a subject matter will allot the needed time to do it. Aspies do this naturally while NTs may require a bit of discipline and practice. It’s all the same in the end. Time equals attention and over thousands and thousands of hours your mastery becomes readily apparent.

You make room for your hobbies, your weekly rounds of golf on the links, or your time watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills – why are you complaining that you’re not becoming a master over your tasks of interest? Make time – you’ve got plenty of it.

2. A Limitless Mindset

One of the benefits of Asperger’s Syndrome is the fact that I do not see any end to my efforts of mastery. I do not even cognitively approach the idea as being anything close to finite. Recently I stumbled upon Carol Dwecks’ work, a renowned psychology professor at Standford University who has been studying motivation, achievement, and effort over the last 4 decades or so. She fundamentally believes that humans can determine whether or not success is attainable.

She writes:

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.

Teaching a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports. It enhances relationships.

Mastery is possible with this growth mindset, one that aspie creatives have out of the chute. I believe NTs can develop this as well as they work towards finding their interests, passions, and gifts that they have been uniquely created to pursue. NTs may naturally have a more “fixed” mindset but it can be broken in time.

3. Working Through the Pain

Lastly, aspie creatives do not so much mind pain. This isn’t necessarily physical pain but rather anything that could potentially cause distraction through their pursuit. It is the unique combination of perseverance and passion that allows us to press on. Quitting is never an option as we are akin to possessed people with some of our pursuits.

If mastery occurs over time and lots of it then we’re suited well for the journey. Hard work and lots of sweat great us with open arms and the resulting pain, although difficult, is still bearable. Unfortunately, for most people, quitting is an option at this point, especially when the fruit of their labor isn’t obvious or immediate.

I want to invite everyone, especially any NT, to not quit. Mastery is such an important part of being human that without it we lead nothing more than dull and boring lives. You grew up wanting to be extraordinary, not mediocre or middling – mastery is a fundamental ingredient to being extra-ordinary so pursue whatever it is with passion and gusto.

You weren’t made to fill out excel spreadsheets for 40 hours (or more) a week – you were meant to live, and to live fully. So if you must, leave your current role, your current occupation, and find an opportunity to become a master at what you love. It’s much more fun and a more vibrant way of living.