Mastery is Just Getting in More Reps Than Anyone Else

I know we’ve heard this before, but as a reminder, there are no people with magic skills who are smarter than us at business. But we do get confused when we see people who seem to have a touch of ‘magic’ in the craft that they perform. How do they do that?

When you study these people you find that they have a different view of what it takes to achieve mastery in their work. Essentially, mastery of something is a matter of getting in more reps than anyone else in your craft. Kobe Bryant is one of those people. His skills on the basketball court seem like magic, but you find out they are just a result of practicing his craft with such intense repetition that no one else can match him. He explains it here in this 1 minute video:

He says that if you have the discipline to practice your craft unlike anyone else, then you will quickly blow past other people in your abilities. Eventually, you’ll have done so many reps that other people can’t do enough to even catch up. 

I follow a lot of guitarists, and have since I was in early high school (close to 40 years ago). I love to watch guitar virtuosos play and just marvel at their abilities. Guthrie Govan is one of those people whose skills are really difficult to even comprehend (he holds the honor as having played one of my most favorite guitar solos ever). 

Govan, using his storytelling skills, gives advice here that we can take to heart when learning our craft:

“Your [craft, ability, guitar solo, 3 point shot, etc.] will only be useful to you the day you can do it quicker than you can decide to do it.” 

I’ve learned that to be true in my own craft, which is understanding the complexities of setting up teams and structure for service-based organizations that are seeking to scale. My craft is in building businesses. While many take vacations and post about not working for 3 weeks on the beach (nothing wrong with that), I’ve worked from 8 am to 6 pm, six straight days a week for years and years. The things I learn, the ideas I have, and the joy I find in my work increases daily. My ideas and thoughts about how to institute learning for myself and to share with others on how to apply structural advice to companies that need to scale is almost overwhelming (I can’t keep up with it). I can’t write all of the ideas down. There comes a point when you can’t help but know more than someone else because you are just drenched in your craft longer than anyone else. Or, as Govan said, you can apply your craft more quickly than you can think about it. My partner Julie is similar – she just has so many reps in at building businesses with me that she knows more than the average person. 

It’s not magic; mastery is just getting in more reps than anyone else. I’ve already gotten more reps in than most business owners, and it will be hard to surpass me even if you start practicing faster than me now. And you may even think I’m bragging (and admittedly, it is hard for me to type these things) but I am truly just stating what I’m experiencing now on a daily basis.

Our consulting to businesses that want to be set up to scale comes from our mastery and the reps of doing it in our own businesses. We don’t even have to ask as many questions – we can just tell what the issue is for the person hiring us after about a 15 minute conversation. I form in my mind the path of consulting for the new potential client by the end of the call. And when we are with our entrepreneurial clients, our ability to help them just comes out without thinking. We’re not often stumped by their issues, because we’ve dealt with the issues in our own business multiple times, and have had to go through the hard work of correcting, fixing, or solving for our mistakes many times. Lots of reps.

The book So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport is about this very topic: mastery through reps. He debunks the idea of “follow your passion” and instead says: 

“I am suggesting that you put aside the question of whether your job is your true passion, and instead turn your focus toward becoming so good they can’t ignore you. That is, regardless of what you do for a living, approach your work like a true performer.”

I even love to study the topic of mastery. I’m going to be diving into a new book on mastery to soak in this topic even more. Reach out if you want to know which book it is.

By the way, we teach and talk a lot about growth and mastery with agency and design owners, high-end nonprofits, and many other service-based businesses. Sign up for our Newsletter and subscribe to our YouTube channel to learn more about what we teach and how we serve.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *