So, the day before I discovered the book on Mastery, I was trying to verbalize and explain the process of an artistic endeavor to a student. I was trying to explain how one can never arrive at perfection, but there is joy in striving for it. I was trying to say that he should not be frustrated at never arriving at perfection, but be happy that there is still more to strive for.
After all, how boring would it be, if we "finished" learning music or writing or anything? Why continue to practice 2+2=4? We're perfect at that. No sense in practicing saying 2+2=4 for hours every day. That would be very boring, indeed.
I should preface this by explaining that I am a terrible talker. Words jumble. I make no sense. My students are surprisingly adept at learning from me, and understanding what I mean, not what I say. (It's a mystery.) But there are limits, as you will see.
So here's me, trying to teach this important life lesson.
"In art, you can never get 100%."
"How boring would it be, if you could get an A+?"
This 4.0 grade-average student nods, with a little smile on his face, like I'm the craziest teacher he's ever had.
"Because when you get to 100%, you see the second floor, and you have a whole 'nother 100% to go."
He looks up at the ceiling, because I'm pointing to the second floor.
"And when you get to the top of that floor, you'll be on the third floor. And you'll have to climb another set of steps!"
He's looking up at the ceiling with me, and I'm getting on a role, because I think I might be starting to make some sort of point.
I stand up. "And then there's the fifth floor and the sixth floor and it goes on forever! We strive and strive for perfection," I say, excited to convey how fulfilling the day to day striving for excellence is, "and we will never achieve it!" I sit down with a flourish, and look at him expectantly to see if he got my point.
He smiles at me. "So it's useless to try?"
One of these days, I'm going to learn how to teach.