Owning the journey means owning the power.
There is no way to achieve mastery over anything without achieving mastery over it.
It is one thing to be able to use a tool to get you through a moment. It is another thing to have your own bag of tools, to be able to select an effective tool for the situation, and then to be use that tool with grace and finesse.
This is, I suspect, at the heart of the quest of a lifetime. It’s not just being who you are in a moment, it is about being good at being who you are. It’s not just about knowing who you are, it is about knowing how you can address a challenge with your particular mix of strengths & weaknesses and achieve a masterful and elegant strategy.
If there is one thing I need to offer to the world, one thing that people can quickly recognize about what I offer, it is mastery over my particular tool kit.
When we see a young person, we look for promise, energy, attractiveness. We look for possibility.
When we see a mature person, we look for wisdom, grace, knowledge. We look for mastery.
I need to believe that the past decade, that the past decades, have brought me some kind of mastery of being me. I need to believe that I can make things better, help others, offer benefits by offering my mastery. I need to believe that people can see that mastery in me, see it, acknowledge it, respect it and reward it.
Because I own my own journey, because I have worked my own experience, because I have tried and failed and tried again, because I have a wide range of experience that lets me read things fast, having seen them before, because I have a wide range of techniques that are now tried and sometimes true, I have to believe I have some mastery.
It’s one thing to venerate beginners mind, but you don’t want your surgeon or even your plumber to have beginners mind. You want them to have mastery over what they are about to do. You want them to be able to see the nuance and to be able to address the exceptional.
In the end, owning our own journey isn’t about arrogance, rather it is about humility, the humility of knowing that the best we can do is serve the process in an effective way. You cannot achieve mastery just by control, you achieve it by being sensitive to the smallest details, letting those details guide you. Hard won knowledge opens us to the range of possibilities rather than just letting us believe that one approach fits all.
There used to be a teaching direction that made a separation between trainable and educable. You can train people to follow the instructions, to execute the keystrokes, to copy the procedure, which is the approach so many business take today. To actually look at the details, create a strategy, correct as you go along, and do the right thing, well that takes education, not just training. You need to own the concepts and be able to apply them as needed, in unique combinations, to unlock the never before seen, to approach the exceptional, to create the masterpiece.
The challenge I was handed in this world wasn’t standard. I had to learn how to be me, how to take my own very individual journey. I needed to learn what nobody could teach me.
Years ago, I installed Novell networks before they were close to being standard. I had to do things like figure out that the order in which you bind the network controllers when generating the system could affect performance. It was hard.
“I have someone new to install the networks,” I told a friend. “But they will have it easier than I did.”
“Why?” the friend asked. “Can they call Novell?”
“No!” I answered, upset that she missed the point. “They can ask me!” I had achieved some level of mastery, and that meant that the new guy didn’t have to figure it all out from scratch. I owned the learning and could pass it on. In fact, that was a primary job for me in many places, taking the new, understanding and owning it, and then passing on that understanding to others.
Still, those new people, the ones I helped, with networks or transgender issues, make be able to make the system function, but they will never have the mastery that I have, because they never had to start to build an understanding from as far back as I did.
I have to believe that my mastery, which comes from owning my journey and the lessons I learned through it, makes me powerful in a way that others can see, respect and value.
Owning the journey means owning the power.
And that means my scars have to count for something.