experts v. masters

From Robert Greene's Mastery:

“We tend to think of working with the hands, of building something physical, as degraded skills for those who are less intelligent. This is an extremely counterproductive cultural value.”

My father is a doctor. He sees upwards of 50 patients every day and receives more "Thanks for everything" notes of gratitude than anyone I've encountered.

My father isn't an intellectual; his relationship with his craft is dominated by his hands and his body. His mind just happens to come along for the ride, take notes, and learn.

Just as a seasoned Wall Street trader can sense a downturn in the market simply by smelling the post-lunch air, Dr. Mian can make diagnoses and split-second decisions based on decades of trial and error.

And he tells anyone who's willing to listen how important learning from a "master" was for him. My dad learned much of the art of his profession through a mentor he had while he was a resident:

"To this day I remember what he would tell me. He would tell me, 'Rafiq, that scalpel is an extension of your fingers, your wrist, your arm, and your mind. If you can connect the scalpel tip to the rest of you, you'll make that scalpel dance to your tune.'"

This is what it means to have a craft. It is something that was once revered centuries ago, when ambitious young folk spent years as apprentices for ironsmiths and printing presses. Musicians-in-training had actual archetypes of what excellence looked like.

But today, we attach ourselves to ideas and techniques, rather than to the vehicles for these ideas and techniques.

We are suspicious of masters; but we eagerly want to extract from them the theory rather than the practice.

"Experts" vastly outnumber masters. People masquerading as masters have built a career by talking at the lectern, but never doing. The real masters are too busy at work for all that stuffy speech.