Final Thoughts – Master Your Skills

What have I learned in this course? I’ve been working for many years now and many of the principles taught in this class I’ve learned at one time or another. However, it was great to be reminded about finding joy in the work we do.

There were a few principles we learned that I appreciated and found opportunities to share with my work colleagues, and my Sunday School class. These included: creating a life of meaning; move forward with a driving passion; don’t be afraid to dream big dreams; and attaining a balanced life. Other principles taught helped frame up what I wanted to do next. These were:

  • Just start something, anything, and learn from it before you move to the next stepping stone.
  • If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Overcome the challenges and endure.

However, if I have to choose one message to share from this course, it is, “Develop mastery in your skill set.” Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, used examples of companies who developed skills in certain areas of their business and used it to their advantage. The example of Wells Fargo being masters at managing credit risk prepared that company for the recession of 2008. Many mortgage companies folded during this period but Wells Fargo, having managed their risks well, only had 3 % of their borrowers go into default.

We see this in sport as well. The All Black rugby team play the basics of the game very well; they hold on to their catches, they tackle hard, and they run fast for the whole game because they are fit. Their coach, Steve Hansen, believes that by doing the basics well, the team retains ball possession, and the other team can’t score if you have the ball.

The world number 1 woman’s tennis player at the moment (Dec 2016), Angelique Kerber, was a late starter in woman’s tennis and by 2014 (age 26), her career was trending downward. She continued to lose in early 2015 and she decided that she needed to do something drastic. “I have to practice again,” she recalls telling herself. “I have to work really hard, and something has to change in my team.” (New Yorker September 2016)  Before playing at Indian Wells in March 2015, she spent a few days practicing with her friend and mentor, Steffi Graf. In 2016 Kerber won the Australian Open and the US Open beating Serena Williams along the way in both tournaments.

From these stories, we can see that understanding the skills required to be successful, and mastering those skills, is a key factor in reaching our desired destination. Mastery has been the key lesson for me during this semester. I have learned to enjoy practicing the sports I play and perfecting my work skills.

I am reminded of the words of the hymn, Lead Kindly Light. The singer appears to be lost and is asking for the Lord to guide his/her way to safety.

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom;

Lead thou me on!

The night is dark, and I am far from home;

Lead thou me on!

Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see

The distant scene–one step enough for me.

As we master our skills, the Lord will guide and prepare us (keep our feet) to use our skills in finding our way to our destiny.

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