McKella Kinch
November 27, 2023

Mastery is a Moving Target…and Why That’s a Good Thing

Mastery is a Moving Target…and Why That’s a Good Thing

Life is full of “almosts” and near wins. A lot of us get really frustrated when we almost hit our target. 

We want to arrive. We want to get to that place where we’ve “mastered” whatever it is we care about, where we know everything, and where everything feels easy and there are no more almosts, just bullseyes.

Sure, it can be infuriating when you’re this close, but when we want to rush through the journey and arrive at that fabled, perfect place where we’ve made it, we miss the whole point of the pursuit.

In her TED Talk titled “Embrace the Near Win,” Sarah Wilson explores the meaning of mastery, and the value of continuous improvement, even if it means we just miss our target more than we actually hit it. 

Watch the talk here!

Key Takeaways:

  • Mastery is in the pursuit, not the arrival. (Spoiler alert: there is no arrival.)
  • The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know
  • We thrive when we stay at our own leading edge. We find fulfillment when we embrace the pursuit.
  • We create great work by striving to create even better work.

This blends beautifully with our philosophy at Redmond. Here’s why!

The Value in the Pursuit of Excellence

value in the process

The Infinite Mindset

“Mastery is not a commitment to a goal but to a constant pursuit.” - Sarah Lewis

Sometimes you reach goals. You run the marathon, you launch the product, you break sales records. That’s success, but mastery is when you keep running, keep dreaming up new products, and keep growing, not because you want to run an even longer race or make more money or beat another business, but because you love the pursuit. The whole point is to keep going for as long as you can.

This desire to stay on the journey as long as possible is called an Infinite Mindset (based on The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek).

Those achievements demonstrate excellence, but mastery is in the commitment to keep growing and learning, never stop looking for possibilities, and stay in the game as long as possible. Because that’s how we make the greatest impact and find the most fulfillment.

The Evolving Ideal

there's always room for growth

“We thrive not when we've done it all, but when we still have more to do.” -Sarah Lewis We humans love a challenge. But if something is TOO difficult and we don’t feel like we even have a shot at success, we usually give up and try something easier instead. 

We feel best when we’re challenged just enough to stretch us. When something is just outside our comfort zone or current level of skill or understanding, we can grow to meet that challenge. The best potential outcome is close enough that we can see how to get there and know it’s possible. 

And, the good news is that even if we “fail” (i.e. don’t quite achieve our targeted outcome) we still learn and grow. The growth is in the stretching, not the reaching.

At Redmond, we have something we call the evolving ideal—the awareness of possibility, potential, and progress, coupled with the understanding that there’s ALWAYS room for improvement. This is always going to evolve because the limits of your imagination will change and grow right along with your experience and perspective. The best you can imagine today isn’t the best you’ll be able to imagine a year from now. 

It would be incredibly deflating to realize we had nowhere else to go. That’s why we find the possibilities so exciting!

This is How We Create Great Work

We don’t always make huge leaps in our skills or knowledge. Of course, we will experience some breakthroughs if we’re consistently stretching ourselves, but we mostly improve and build skills little by little. 

After all, when you build strength or flexibility, you do that by stretching to the point of a little discomfort, but not too much because you don’t want to pull anything. You lift heavy weights until they feel easier, then you bump them up.

When we’re constantly stretching ourselves, pushing ourselves to learn and grow, those little gains will add up! We’ll strive for excellence, and produce better and better work as a result (both individuals and as an organization).

It’s a Neverending Pursuit - And We Love It

Our vision is to elevate the human experience. 

our redmond vision

This isn’t something that can be completed. The human experience is ongoing, and so is elevating it. It’s like eating; you have to keep doing it, but that doesn’t mean eating isn’t worthwhile because you’ll never get to a place where you’ll never be hungry again.

We’re constantly pursuing that vision even though we know we will never reach it because it’s a worthy pursuit and there’s a ton of value in the striving. We’ll never “arrive”. And how would we know if we did anyway? 

“Masters are not experts because they take a subject to its conceptual end. They're masters because they realize that there isn't one.” -Sarah Wilson 

Do you find this idea discouraging, or exciting? 

At Redmond, we love thinking about the possibilities, and we know we’ll always have more ideas than we’ll ever know what to do with. 

There will never be a point where the human experience needs no more elevating, and that’s exactly what keeps us going, and why we work to grow as a company.  The more we grow, the more we can make a meaningful contribution to the world. 

Why would we ever want to “arrive”?

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