Rule #2: Study

As a teacher, I often have students who live below the average threshold of “Getting it.”

They just don’t understand a subject, what I’m teaching, or why it matters. Despite my attempts to rattle the noggin and inject wisdom, it often flops. A flacid failure to impart knowledge.

Every once in awhile though, a tenacious pupil rises from the crowd with sub-par understanding and a brutal attachment to rejection. They aren’t any good. But they keep trying.

From Religion, to Writing, to Gaming, these pupils may lack the ability that I have obtained from a mixture of practice and just being above average intelligence.

(Like we all are. (Seriously try to find one person who claims to have below average intelligence, we tend to think mightily about ourselves)).

Sometimes though I encounter that pupil after a couple years. And the M Night Shamaylan reveal is that Mr. Below Average has blossomed into a reputable source and sometimes even an expert in a field. A field that I was surprised they managed to care about at all, given the quality of assignments they produce.

The Religiously naive pupil now uses terms that I find myself ignorant of because when I was all high-horse about knowledge, I let myself get stagnant. I let myself feel as if I had arrived. And now they quote elegant about ancient dusty books and are fluent in Greek and Latin.

Meanwhile, Mr. Teacher is using google more and more these days just to get by.

This is My second Rule.

Study your industry a little bit each day.

There is this fascinating passage in the C.S. Lewis book Mere Christianity where Snior Lewis talks about love. Instead of using something remotely interesting, he turns to the thrilling journey of plants.

I’m sure his musings on gardens will eventually be rebooted as an action movie.

Ever the poetic genius, Lewis talks of how a nubile green thumb at first feels extreme excitement and immense highs at planting, nurturing, and cultivating a seed. Eventually though, that thrill subsides. Truth be told, Gardening isn’t necessarily all action. At least until the reboot.

Rather than action, the act of gardening requires large amounts of waiting. You watch the soil like a hound dog watching the Mailman. And then one day, BAM! Greenery sprouts. Elation. Joy. Accomplishment.

This is the first seedling. You celebrate, and feel as if you should throw a plant Shower for the new born.

Overtime though, once again, you find gardening becoming dull. Plants explode from the soil, only to grow sluggishly and die over minute details such as sun and water.

Yet talk to a master who has achieved perfection in any craft. Like an old married couple, they have a depth of fondness and understanding that few have ever seen for the mundane. They know the terms and culture of that hobby and can talk for hours about it.

An expert gardener may be able to tell you the latin names of plants, the growth patterns of bizarre sprouts, the joy of seeing this tree grow and this flower bloom.

It is in the depth of knowledge that love for the craft is born, and the beauty of the craft revealed.

Yet, no one was ever born an expert and most experts were forged in less than two decades. If you are serious about your industry. Start now. Pursue excellence. Read everything about it, the good, the bad, the terribly uniformed opinions. And openly learn.

You might find yourself a master of a craft, deeply in love with it, without ever realizing it was a lifetime of work. Because it was actually a joyful walk of love. Everything is new once.

This is my Second Rule.

Study your industry a little bit each day.

-Jake

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