Mastery, Success, or Perfection

Mastery, Success, or Perfection

Article by Tamisha Ford
Photo Credit: Angel Quintana
Magazine: Issue #23

In The Rise, by Sarah Lewis, she intricately defines mastery this way:

“Mastery requires endurance. Mastery, a word we don’t use often, is not the equivalent of what we might consider its cognant – perfectionism – an inhuman aim motivated by a concern with how others view us. Mastery is also not the same as success – an event-based victory based on a peak point, a punctuated moment in time. Mastery is not merely a commitment to a goal, but to a curved line, constant pursuit."

Mastery’s Style

Mastery is curvy. She doesn’t stay in the lines nor does she like them. If she were a dating profile, she’d say “a little extra.” This is because mastery, by nature, is dedicated to building on itself – it never sees perfection as an end goal. Instead, it focuses on excellence and consistent movement & improvement.  Mastery is known for its commitment to process. When it comes to our creative expression, embracing a mastery mindset means liking the prefix “re”. Re-mixing. Re-mastering. Re-branding. Re-launching. Re-painting. Re-doing. And being totally okay with it. 

Perfection’s Style

The style of perfection is best described by Anne Lamott:

“Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend. What people (inadvertently, I’m sure) forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are, and why we are here…”

Here’s the thing about perfectionism – it usually has good intent. If you’re like me, as a recovering perfectionist, it always came from a genuine place of just wanting to make my parents proud of me. The thing is, that created the precise unrealistic expectations perfection needs in order to thrive. It’s motivated purely by how it’s viewed by others, which is the reason it’s unhealthy.

The Style of Success

Success in our society has been painted as the resident “she made it” attitude. It’s a pinnacle. It’s the mountain peak. The climax, if you will. The question I have for this version of success is “what happens when you get there?” How have you built it? 

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having goals. I just think we have to be careful how & why we achieve them. Mastery gives us permission to do it our way and define and refine our work along our path. It allows us to be flexible with change and master our creative and self-expression with servitude and heart - continuously. 


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