In the middle ages, skilled crafts were passed down through the ages from Masters to apprentices who eventually became Masters. The process of apprenticeship to Master often required several years of careful and patient learning from the Master. The Master taught the skills, then observed the apprentice practicing his/her own skills. There was careful and close supervision in the beginning, but a slow transition to more and more freedom to the apprentice as mastery of the skills was demonstrated. Eventually, the apprentice had to create his/her own “masterpiece”. This work was often judged, not only by his/her own Master, but by others to ensure that the piece was worthy of the trade. Once deemed worthy to be called a masterpiece, the apprentice graduated from apprentice to Master.
Each of us should be serving as either a Master quality practitioner or as an apprentice… or both. We should be striving to learn something new — a new craft — as we progress in our careers, even if we have mastered one element or field or discipline. We should be open to learning from someone that has demonstrated exceptional ability with the goal that we would eventually be considered a master ourselves. Likewise, we should all be either actively involved or aspiring to serve as a “Master” teacher to one or more others. The best way to really demonstrate your mastery of a craft is to pass it on. Mentoring is one way to pass it on. Being intentional about sharing your knowledge is another.
Business today is rapidly evolving. We are in the midst of significant transformational change that requires that we keep up. Thus, we need to be intentional about building our own skills, as well as, our team’s bench strength. Serving as a “Master Practitioner” or volunteering to learn something new as an “Apprentice” is something each of us can do to strengthen our company and better prepare us as individuals and as a company for our future of adventure and intrigue.
All of us should be in the midst of our own “apprentice” journey in something. How about you today?