I first heard about the three stage view of mastery from George Lenard. In his book, The Way of Aikido, he refers to how a person moves from beginner to knowledgeable partitioner and then to master. In our society most people expect that when a person obtains their black belt in a martial art, they are a master. But that is not the case. In most of the martial arts I have seen, receiving a black belt recognizes that a person is now a knowledgeable partitioner and is ready to delve deeper into the art and learn better how to use the art effectively.
Martial arts are not the only thing like this.
Years ago, when I started out learning about productivity tools, I began thinking that if I just could do better at implementing the 4 quadrant system and focus on prioritizing my tasks in A,B and C categories, I would get more done and be more effective. I became discouraged and jumped from one system to another, thinking there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t seem to get these really good systems ingrained in me, no matter what I tried.
After many years and many systems, I found that I had created my own system. I had moved from beginner into journeyman status. I knew the different tools out there and could see the parts of them and how they were used in other systems to make those other systems work. From where I stand now, I can see how masters got to where they are, but don’t consider myself one of them. I know there is still a lot for me to do before I would consider myself a guru in productivity systems and the tools out there, but I can see how the tools can help each other.