Mastery Glimpse /mast(ə)rē glimps/ – Noun: A partial, momentary, shepherded experience of excelling beyond current attainment that helps a person envision self as future master. A gift from master to beginner.
Mastery Glimpses allow a beginner to taste what it might feel like to be really successful at something, in the future. As we envision ourselves in the master’s shoes, we may say to ourselves, “how hard can it be?” The newfound confidence propels us forward, motivating us through the hard work that we need to do, before we actually master an art well enough to be truly successful at it.
Filmmaker Lauren Speeth was given a very powerful mastery glimpse when we was about twelve years old. She was given the chance to visit a sound studio – Motion Picture Sound – in Cleveland, and watch her uncle Christopher Speeth and her father at work. Chris had filmed the first Earth Day, and various civil rights protests, among his documentary films, but this time they were adding the creepy sound effects to a horror film that Chris had directed (and that played through the 1970s in drive in theatres and was featured in the book Nightmare, USA). She recalls:
I was allowed to watch them work, and because I saw people I knew being successful, I could see myself being a successful, also. From that moment, I could envision it. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Well, if my dad can do it, and my uncle can do it, then, by George, so can I.’
Masters at an art have a way of making things look really easy, and allowing observers to think, “how hard can it be?” when it can actually be very hard. It was only years later, in 2002 when I really got serious about documenting performances and creating films that I learned that there’s actually a lot to it – there are worlds of details to know, and it’s not that easy. I’m so glad I had that experience, because now I know the great gift that we give, when we allow beginners access into our mastery spaces, and show them what it’s like to do these things we do.
People can underestimate their gifts and their levels of mastery, not realizing how much they actually have to offer to beginners. You may not consider yourself a master, but you are. You’re a master reader, a master at literacy… we know this because you are reading this post. But we also know there’s a lot more. And when you give others the gift of a mastery glimpse, you’ll be surprised at the abundance of gifts you’ll receive – they will teach you and bring you so much joy – in return.