I took my kids to the roller skating rink a few weeks ago, and was struck by just how good some of the other skaters were. Even in a jam-packed rink, they could zoom in and out of the crowds without disrupting the flow or getting in anyone's way. They moved with such grace, ease and mastery that it was a joy to watch.
I liked watching my own kids, too, but it was a different experience. They can skate just fine, but are nowhere near masters. My older one was especially eager for attention. "Look at ME, mom!" "Did you notice me skating backwards?" "Time me!" "I am so much faster than HE is."
It was such a striking juxtaposition: My over-confident learner was eager to prove how great she was, while the really excellent ones simply were great, and had no need to prove anything to anyone.
This distinction between learner and master doesn't just apply to skating, of course, but to any area where we might want to develop our skills.
In the beginning, it's natural to be full of ego. We long to be recognized, encouraged, and validated, because learning new things is hard! That external support can get us through when we might otherwise get discouraged and be tempted to give up.
If we keep going, we have a chance at the real prize: to be good enough at our craft that the external validation no longer matters.
I want to get to that level of mastery with my Gift of Happiness work. I want to be so good at guiding people toward happiness and connection that I no longer feel the need to justify or prove myself. I want to be a person who is no longer trying to love people, but in whose presence people simply know they are loved.
What about you?
Are there areas of your life where you feel like you are trying to prove yourself, or find yourself eager for validation? What skills are you trying to master? What would it feel like to actually master them? What do you think it would take to get there?