Mastery — how we crave it and chase it! The Art of Loving by Eric Fromm is a pithy yet powerful exploration of what it takes to be a loving person. Penned in the 1950s, in many ways, it is fresh and surprisingly relevant. As the book wraps up, it loosely lays out the steps to mastery. As our boy Eric says so well, “The practice of any art has certain general requirements, quite regardless of whether we deal with the art of carpentry, medicine, or the art of love.”
Or writing, he might have added! He outlined for four requirements for mastery:
Discipline: “First of all, the practice of an art requires discipline. I will never be good at anything if I do not do it in a disciplined way; anything I do only ‘if I am in the mood’ may be a nice and amusing hobby, but I shall never become a master of that art.”
Concentration: “That concentration is a necessary condition for the mastery of an art is hardly necessary to prove. Anyone who has ever tried to learn an art knows this. Yet, even more than self-discipline, concentration is rare in our culture. On the contrary, our culture leads to an unconcentrated and diffused mode of life, hardly paralleled anywhere else.”
Patience: “A third factor is patience. Again, anyone who ever tried to master an art knows that patience is necessary if you want to achieve anything. If one is after quick results, one never learns an art. Yet, for the modern man, patience is as difficult to practice as discipline and concentration. Our whole industrial system fosters exactly the opposite: quickness.”
Devotion: “If one wants to become a master in any art, one’s whole life must be devoted to it, or at least related to it. One’s own person becomes an instrument in the practice of the art, and must be kept fit, according to the specific function it has to fulfill.”
Discipline. Concentration. Patience. Devotion. What a powerful gathering of powers these four qualities can unleash! Let’s see how we can bring more of each of them to the page.