Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

088: Three Stages of Personal Development Borrowed from The Middle Ages [Podcast]

After his first mentor died, Luke Skywalker showed up to apprentice under Yoda. Luke thought he was hot stuff and cut his training short, which resulted in his hand getting cut off. We may not lose a limb, but if we dismiss the value of apprenticeship, our craft will suffer a similar fate.

Three Stages of Personal Development Borrowed from The Middle Ages

One of the benefits of self-publishing is that anyone can be an author. But one of the drawbacks of self-publishing is that not everyone should be an author.

Digital platforms remove barriers to entry, but uninhibited access to the masses does not guarantee great work. We have a greater responsibility to our readers.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Andy and I talk about the ancient process of apprenticeship, and what it teaches us about personal development today. Listen in as we discuss how you can build a realistic timeline of your own path to becoming great at your craft.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email or RSS, please click here).


Mastery is a journey

When you reach a tipping point and finally make the leap into pursuing your calling, it’s easy to feel like you’ve made it. In reality, the story is just beginning.

After quitting my job as a marketing directer to write full-time, I thought I’d arrived. Everything was going to be awesome, and I’d get to teach other people how to write and do what I’d done. I didn’t recognize the gap between apprenticeship and mastery.

This timeframe as a journeyman is when an artist proves their work to themselves and to the world. It’s not enough to practice and prepare. You have to prove your value to the market. Not just once, but usually for 2–3 years.

One of the benefits of being a journeyman centuries removed from the Middle Ages, is we get to choose who we try to prove ourselves too. We are not bound by geography or class to practice our craft in obscurity.

Show highlights

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The powerful initiation of reaching mastery among our peers
  • Why apprenticeships are a lost art we must rediscover
  • How to find masters to study under
  • The impact of a fast food culture on creative pursuits
  • Why universities are not a sustainable system for artists
  • Giving yourself permission to take the long road
  • The benefits of submitting to the apprenticeship model
  • Why you can’t skip the journeyman phase
  • What it takes to become a master

Quotes and Takeaways

  • Subject yourself to critique so you can get better.
  • It’s not enough to practice and prepare. You have to prove yourself.
  • Masters want to endorse great work.
  • You cannot produce extraordinary work without community.
  • High standards pull greatness out of you.


Where are you on the development timeline? What are you doing to move forward in your development as an artist? Share in the comments

About Jeff Goins

I am the best-selling author of five books, including the national bestsellers The Art of Work and Real Artists Don't Starve. Each week, I send out a free newsletter with my best tips on writing, publishing, and helping your creative work succeed.

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