I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of sales leaders and tens of thousands of their sales reps over the last seventeen years. Last year I started researching in earnest what sets elite performers apart from everyone else.

Why is it that a few excel, while most never come close to their potential? Why do most people hit a minimum level of performance, and then “hit cruise control” for the rest of their career?

What started as research became an obsession to answer these (and other) questions. I’ve tried to understand the science and simplicity that leads to craftsmanship. As a starting point, I offer this working definition:

“Craftsmanship” is the journey leading to mastery– the calling and commitment to perpetual improvement. It encourages you to transform the capabilities that optimize potential, performance and contribution.

My learning has inspired me to personally apply these concepts. It’s easy to study in the abstract, harder to use yourself as the guinea pig. What is now clear to me is that mastery isn’t for the “gifted” few; it’s a discipline that can be replicated by anyone.

When looking for examples of craftsmanship, it’s easy to become enamored with celebrity talent, and observe the formidable gap between their performance and mine. Clearly, it’s unlikely that I could out-perform Steph Curry in the NBA or Thomas Edison in generating new patents. However, a closer look at craftsmanship reveals that there is much to be learned from their patterns of practice, focus and execution. As Dan Coyle observed, “Understanding how a few became great, anyone can become better.”

And I choose to become better.

Craftsmanship has improved my own habits and behaviors. It has enhanced what I see and expect in myself. Here are a few realizations:

  1. I can improve. Not by a little, by game-changing magnitudes. It started with the humility to be open to guidance from others. Then proceeds to discipline. No matter how good I am (or think I am), I can be much better.
  2. Let what “calls” you, guide you. A job was easy to get, harder to create a career, and invaluable to listen for my own calling to contribute in unique ways. I am learning to prioritize activities I am passionate about.
  3. It’s a journey, not a destination. This process is ongoing. Transformation in talent builds over time and has no limit. Day after day. Years into careers.
  4. The payoff of mastery is remarkable. The outcome is exponential success in your personal and professional life. You are more content and peaceful. More dedicated to serving those you love. Mastery is the gift that keeps giving.

Mastery is a living force innate to each of us, “craftsmanship” is the process of realizing it.

It has revealed an unexpected insight: I don’t work on craft, craft works on me. When you commit to craftsmanship, it begins to forge a new momentum and vision of what you can become.

Craftsmanship is a high octane journey with amazing vistas. Just ask Steph Curry. Who’s up for a road trip?

Call to Craftsmanship: Consider your desire to perform at elite levels. Is this a journey that interests you? If so, buckle up. Much more to come: “Road work ahead”


-Craig Christensen www.kraftworx.com

Privacy Preference Center