We often hear it said that a man is a jack of all trades and a master of none. That’s a bastardization of an original phrase which people tend to not use these days. Mastery seems to have fallen out of importance. As men, we need a return to mastery.
The original phrase was, “Jack of all trades, master of one.” ‘Master of none’ is an insult. It implies laziness. It implies that the man at whom the phrase is directed is lazy and content to make his living on basic skills that everyone has. A master of no skills is a man who sees the virtue of learning a skill to exhaustion and utter mastery as not worth his time. That’s the least masculine trait a human being can have.
Practice Makes the Master
There’s another phrase that people often use improperly. We’ve all heard that ‘practice makes perfect.’ In reality, the phrase began as ‘practice makes the master,’ or ‘practice makes mastery’ in German. The reality is, perfection is an unattainable goal. Mastery, on the other hand, is very attainable.
One of our goals with this project is not only to empower men to greatness but also empower them to competence in a host of skills. We men have allowed ourselves to become lazy. We tell ourselves that there “is no point in reinventing the wheel” when, in fact, we are really just allowing others to take over a task so that we do not have to put the effort into it. When did we allow ourselves to stop laboring for what we have? When did we become convinced that someone else’s capability in a task was grounds for our own lack of effort or enthusiasm to learn and better ourselves?
You need not know all the ins and outs of welding to repair your muffler. To build a steel roll cage for your Jeep, however, will require far more skill. The reason we share knowledge and experience is to elevate the group. You may never progress past the muffler, but you may find a knack for welding and do something amazing. You can never know until you expose yourself to the experience.
The 80/20 Rule: The Law of Diminishing Returns
We hear a lot about the law of diminishing returns, often referenced as the 80/20 rule. The idea is, you can, with minimum effort, become 80% proficient in anything. The effort to get you to 80% proficient, though will not get you to 90% proficient. In fact, for most tasks, getting to 95% proficiency can take decades of faithful practice unless you’re a savant.
By putting the additional effort into breaking free of the 80% plateau, you exemplify manliness and set an example for the youths who haven’t learned the lessons you have. Whether it is your children or someone else’s children that see you or look up to you, “it takes a village,” is another saying with deep roots. Every story of greatness starts with a kid who idolizes a man and strives to be better than that man.
“It takes a village,” tells us that it is okay share in our mastery. The key is in learning from that community. Our society has conditioned us to just go to the professionals and let them handle it. WRONG! Look at what the boys over at Readyman do. They have built a business out of taking their decades of mastery in survival, firearms, and prepping for the End out into the world, not to do it for you, but to share that knowledge so you too can become a master. Our good friends over at Cold Water Outdoors have started a venture to share the experience and knowledge in hunting they have accumulated to help make you better. Find your community to learn from.
Go Forth and Begin your Mastery
What skill sets do you want to master? Anything you want to add into your “Jack of all” wheelhouse? DO IT! No one will ever make you learn or master anything. You need to get off your ass and handle your business. Stop paying Jiffy Lube to change your oil. If you hunt, learn to skin it and clean it yourself. Has the next problem in life hit you? Learn how to fix that leaky pipe or janky floater in the back of your toilet. Be a man and handle your business. Let Ming Magazine be there to guide you as needed in picking up new skills.