Career Mastery: A Process, Not a Destination

by Apr 8, 2019

It goes without saying that it’s important to take charge of your career. You are in the driver’s seat, switching lanes, shifting gears by yourself, and no one else is responsible for discovering or promoting your career for you. Consequently, it’s critical to become familiar with the process of career mastery.

 What is mastery?

Mastery is defined as, ‘possessing authority and comprehensive knowledge and skill over a subject.’

In her book ‘Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery’, author and art curator Sarah Lewis elaborates on the definition of mastery:

‘Mastery requires endurance. Mastery, a word we don’t use often, is not the equivalent of what we might consider its cognate — perfectionism — an inhuman aim motivated by a concern with how others view us. Mastery is also not the same as success — an event-based victory based on a peak point, a punctuated moment in time. Mastery is not merely a commitment to a goal, but to a curved-line, constant pursuit.’

Why is it important for your career?

Throughout your career, not only is it in your best interest to advocate your skills, suitability, and credentials to a hiring manager, but to recruiters as well. Recruiters are on the lookout for individuals that solve problems with invaluable solutions – a candidate that will impress their clients instantly. Recruiters recognise their clients will pay top dollar for their advice, wisdom, and expertise.

Beyond landing your dream job, everyone should strive to create their own legacy. Legacy is lasting impact, the impression you leave with anyone that has ever worked with you. You can’t create this legacy without mastery.

But how does one pursue career mastery?

The details of mastery will be different for every person and industry; however, two skills are absolutely crucial when it comes to pursuing mastery in your career: the ability to focus on what’s important, and the ability to practice well.

It can be surprisingly easy to become a go-to expert today. There’s never been a better time to launch yourself as an authority. Online courses, a bachelor’s degree, reading online, social media, video marketing and the print-on-demand industry have made it entirely accessible for anyone.

Focus on what’s important.

Focus is a key mark of mastery. The reason is simple: you cannot be a master of many things. A commitment to being great at everything in your job will result in a scattered approach and, potentially, yield a diluted impact. While it might go against societal pressure of adding more and more to your plate, the reality is that you have limited time and energy.

To become a master of something you need to learn it – and learn it well. So, from an educational perspective, ‘focus’ and ‘fine tuning’ your knowledge comes in the form of a specialised education such as a master’s degree. Generally, the way they are structured, they allow you to ‘deep dive’ in a subject matter.

A master’s degree is about promoting a deep understanding. From a career perspective, having a master’s can open new opportunities by demonstrating you are a master in your field. Getting a masters is about positioning yourself as an expert. It also aligns you with the best-of the-best in your industry; positioning yourself with authority – someone who knows in-depth knowledge about a specific subject.

Practice well.

How many times have you heard that “practice makes perfect?” Well, meta-analysis of dozens of previous studies shows that it is not always true.

Realistically, practice makes excellence. Let’s just say the more opportunities you have to practice your craft and reinforce the associated behaviours – the greater your chances are at becoming a master.

Some ways you can ‘practice well’ include hands-on experience, internships, volunteering, networking, training, workshops, seminars, and more.

Mastery, after all, is about self-development and self-improvement.

It’s seriously worth it.

There are no shortcuts; the process can take many years and involve numerous setbacks and detours. But being a master at what you spend almost half your lifetime doing is an investment.

Wherever you take your career, you are no longer replaceable. You are one of a kind, a master of your field and of your career destiny.


Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

By Melissa Fanous

By Melissa Fanous

Media Manager at Employsure

Melissa currently manages Employsure’s external PR communications, media strategies and provides external communications support and advice to key stakeholders and leaders across the business.  She holds a Master of Business in Marketing from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).