Craig Anderson shares insights on MASTERY

Our VP of Organizational Development shared his thoughts on mastery in a recent Latham staff newsletter. We think his reflections on mastery, one of our core values, is worthy of sharing with our greater Latham community:

Usually when we describe “Mastery,” we say that someone has obtained an expert command and knowledge of a particular skill or subject. But according to author Gary Keller, “achieving mastery is more of a lifestyle you adopt when you want to succeed at something that means a lot to you.  Mastery is an ongoing learning process rather than end goal. And thus there has to be guidance and someone to show us the way. For that reason alone, mastery is a team effort, not a solo endeavor.”

A few years back, I decided to take on learning to play the saxophone.  I’ve never really played an instrument (other than pretending on the harmonica) and didn’t read music. Learning a new language at my age seemed a bit daunting, and I wasn’t sure I could do it.  So I took some small steps – I rented an alto sax from the same company elementary students get theirs, then found myself a very patient teacher who would coach me each week on the basics of where to place my fingers, how to blow through a reed, and how to identify musical notes.  I learned scales and some very simple tunes over the next few months (Twinkle, Twinkle was one of my first great achievements). After about six months, with the help of my mentor, I purchased a used, slightly dented saxophone and he then introduced me to the New Horizons Band of Cape Cod.  The Band was founded 10 years ago for people who are 50ish and older.  (I’m the second youngest at 60).  And like me, the band is for those who have just started to play an instrument and want to learn in a group setting, as well as for those who used to play but haven’t in some time.  The 45-member ensemble practices year-round and holds three annual concerts.  

So now I not only have my teacher but also six other saxophonists, all better than I but willing to help me further my skills – and all with a great sense of fun.  Will I master this activity?  Well I’m sure I will never play Carnegie Hall, but with the help of my coaches and mentors, I will sit high on the stage of the D-Y High School Auditorium three times a year.

Here at Latham, every one of our 250-plus staff members have the opportunity to be that coach, that teacher, that mentor – helping our students and adult residents work towards their own levels of mastery – whether it be a craft, an academic subject, a vocational skill, a sport, a musical instrument, a coping strategy…  And we also have the opportunity to be that supporter for each other. Mastery is a team effort at Latham. 

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