Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Paradox of Mastery

Busy busy busy....

Last couple weeks up at SFU, and I gotta tell ya, it's getting slack. I've got a few presentations to do (old hat by now) and about 500 pages to read, most of which I'll fake my way through anyway.

The other day I was in the library, killing t-- er, reading up my schoolwork, when a thought occurred to me.

As I watched herds of stressed out students cram for Finals, or finish some online chemistry assignments, I thought what was really motivating me (clearly, it was a case of lacking motivation ;) )..

Most students do the University thing for money. I'm so thankful that I actually do get jacked up talking about international relations and economics, and I don't doubt that every Chemistry student or Humanities nut out there will say the same thing.

But ripping our hair out to be 95% kids in some subject....? Now, if we could use Chemistry to come up with some useful new drugs, yeah, that's incredible, and the Humanities guys are salivating at the thought of travelling the world doing excavations (I won't lie... I'm thinking Indiana Jones right now...I took a couple HUM courses.. very very cool stuff).

Are there other things we freak out about, but don't really do us any good?

I thought about our obsession with Mastery, more specifically. When I think about playing a sport, or playing music, I think about Mastery. Weird huh? When you take a course, you probably think about passing, but there are A LOT of kids that think about MASTERING a particular subject.

How about being the best Doctor, ...not just the best doctor you can be, but the best doctor THERE IS?

We think about perfection when we go to the gym... when we check ourselves in the mirror... when we check our bank accounts... After all, anything less than 'perfection' is a flaw...

So what IS the Paradox?

Trying to master something that inheretly doesn't bring you satisfaction... and when you DON'T get satisfied, your response is to just try harder.

Wow. Sweet. Vicious Cycle.

Imagine you work in a lumber yard. I did this one summer, carrying lumber all day... At first I was clumsy, but I made a game of it, getting better at carrying the wood in bigger bundles, getting good a wrapping the whole thing (some tarps that went over the wood) and stapling the tarps, faster and faster... so that it was like a race, who could get their bundle done fastest.

That's the only way to motivate yourself in a job like that---- the male ego. At some point, you don't make any mistakes.. but something has to give, because it's not a satisfying job... you can either get BETTER and hope that THAT will put a smile on your face, or change directions...

What ultimately brought me satisfaction was the people I worked with, matering the job was like a hobby, a distraction.

My point is not that there are things out there that you shouldn't stress out about, but hey, there are things out there, that get ADDICTIVE because they are inherenty UNSATISFYING... It's hilarious how popular these things are..(duh, they're addictive... smoking, drugs,gambling, crappy movies, video games, shopping addictively, chasing fame, popularity, getting a great looking body, getting someone to like you, a great looking bank account... it's like a sugar rush)

Do you have anything like this in your life...? Is it time you decide what actually makes you happy, and establish some RULES for handling all these distractions?

I have to be VERY CAREFUL when I look at my own life, and say, "Okay, besides the money and power thing, where am I going" because if it's something shallow like that, I know it'll lead to ruin..... Fame, Money, Power, these are EFFECTS of being thrilled/ecstatic NOT CAUSES.

I'd love to hear back from some of you guys, we'll see how this things holds up, and I'll let you know what happens with BCbookworm.com....

Have a great Sunday!

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