Early in 2017 I felt a void.

I helped create the “Sales Performance Practice” to become one of the world’s largest sales transformation organizations.  After sixteen years of building, selling, consulting and coaching I was the Global Practice Leader.

Yet, something was missing in my client interactions.

I said the right things at the right times, I made reasonable recommendations in engagements and we saw award-winning growth and success in our business.  From the outside, it looked perfect.

Then came the realization that it wasn’t the business, it was my own expertise that was lacking.  I had an odd awareness that my professional opinions weren’t really mine.

Upon reflection, I had a collection of what other people thought deeply about.  Much of what I said parroted popular themes.  I became expert at rehearsing narrow passages from sales and transformation books.  I quoted other thought leaders, but didn’t have “thought leadership” of my own.

Relating what other people think isn’t a bad thing:  It’s just that I actually thought they were mine.  While I had worked hard to build a business, I hadn’t taken time to build expertise:

  • I had learned what works, but I didn’t know why.
  • I knew what to do, but couldn’t explain the science behind it.
  • I intellectually understood concepts, but didn’t believe them enough to act on them.

While bestselling books lined my shelf, I didn’t read more than one or two a year.  (Did I mention that I was busy?) I found it difficult to read without falling asleep.  I just accepted that reading wasn’t a strength of mine.  Not proud of that, I’m just owning the truth.

Now I was driven to gain the depth of understanding that would enable me to see the connections that experts see. I wanted to know for myself.  I wanted conscious competence.

Over the next few months I started making changes.  I left my job, switched careers and decided to focus all of my time exploring what creates mastery in any profession.

I started on a “reading bender” that hasn’t stopped.

Patterns and connections in the science of elite performance are beginning to appear.  The concept of “craftsmanship” emerged as my own personal quest.  I’m obsessed with understanding a “grand unifying theory” of the journey to achieve mastery – mastery of anything.

I’ve never appreciated Alexander Pope’s “An Essay on Criticism” (1711) until now.  The “Pierian Spring” he refers to was the sacred source of the knowledge of art and science to the Muses in Greek mythology.

“A little learning is a dangerous thing.
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring;
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again.”

In today’s world “shallow draughts” of a “little learning” will convince you that you are current, hip and up-to-date.

It is “drinking largely” that woke me up to the truth of what’s really available.  It is giving me a better understanding of the galactic failures and inspiring successes of heroic masters, the art and science of improvement and the power of the human spirit.

Being awake enables me to realize my unique purpose in life.  And being sober is a good way to start.


Call to Craftsmanship:  What has enabled you to develop your own expertise? What “wake up” calls have you had?

 -Craig    www.kraftworx.com

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