You might think like I did, that being in the film industry doesn't lend itself to mastery given you’re not actually on set that often. In fact, the same is true for many creative pursuits. How can you reach the 10,000-hour rule if you’re not practising your craft every day?
The question I have for you is this: if you’re working a job or freelancing, are you looking at that work as boring and meaningless, or are you looking it as an apprenticeship and an opportunity to build your skills? Are you present while you’re doing the work and reflecting on it each day, or are you dreaming of a future and not really engaging with the work?
In Jiro Dreams of Sushi, we learn that when Jiro takes on new apprentices he starts with teaching them how to wring out a wet towel because those are necessary for good hygiene. Only when the apprentice has wrung a towel to Jiro’s satisfaction, does he or she move onto handling food. And even then, we find out that the apprentice must flip ‘nori’ seaweed for months, even years before they can fry an egg.
I’m often envious of freelancers for having the ability to work on their craft and be paid for it, every single day. To me, that’s like winning the lottery. But how many of those people are working on commercial jobs for clients with the perspective that the work is beneficial to building their craft? Sure, we’d all much rather be on set shooting features, or in the studio recording an album, as I’m sure Jiro's apprentices would much prefer to be running their own Sushi restaurant. But while you can dream big it’s those mundane everyday tasks, done over and over until perfected, that create masters.
If you’re serious about your craft, you need to be working on it every single day. And if you have the excuse that you don’t have time (which we all know is ridiculous), there is no excuse for not being engaged in the work that you are doing and finding a way for that work to feed into training for your ultimate goal.
Every day and every interaction is an opportunity to work on your craft. Make sure you’re tuned in.