UPDATE: This really isn’t the best way of quantifying any road to mastery. It might not be a bad way to quantify what you’ve done in the past and where you quit along the way. Read the book “Mastery.”
Something I saw once on a forum (I was a participant) had us rate all of our perceived skills on a 1 to 10 scale. I don’t remember how or even if that scale was defined, but this is my interpretation:
0: Yes, there is a zero. These activities shouldn’t show up on your list, but they’re the activities you have no interest of ever learning.
1: Some of this list is subjective, but 0 and 1 are hardly. A 1 is an interest that has not been acted upon or that you’ve just started learning about. For me these are plentiful right now. I have the basic supplies for watercolor and would like to learn how to paint with them. If I cannot perform some of the most basic tasks, I may be a 1.
2-4: These are subjective levels of early learning. In cooking, a commonly self-taught activity, these might represent the difficulty of a recipe you can perform with mistakes. A 2 can cook basic ingredients (rice, vegetables, etc). A 3 can make simple compound recipes (a basic cake or bread from scratch, perhaps). A 4 is only missing tough techniques (a soufflé might be beyond 4).
5: The foundation is complete. A 5 should be able to do nearly anything by recipe. A sports or game player will have a natural feel for the basic method of play. No competitions will be won at this level, but adequate results are expected.
6-8: This is a highly subjective progresion toward mastery. Different activities may have different milestones. For all of these grades, it should feel natural to perform this activity. In the game I used to study (Go, an ancient board game) there are several higher grade stepping stones. I passed at least 2-3 of these and might consider myself around a 7. (For those in the know, I was at or near shodan).
9: Amateur Mastery. This is an activity you perform often and at a very high level. Continuing from this point, if possible, would require you to work only at this activity. This level can be a part of your job. The word “Amateur” is used to represent the fact that it is not your primary devotion.
10: Professional Mastery. This is your primary activity. It is performed daily, at length, and at an extremely high level. Few people reach this level in any single activity.
I highly recommend this book as a discussion about mastery. Nobody seems to reach 10 in my rankings and this book seems to lament this fact. It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but it may be time for a reread!
I would love to reach mastery in some activity. I’m not afraid of the work – I just get bored of things by the time I reach the 6-8 phase. I need to make a concerted effort to reach that level.