Victus Spiritus


Ego's relationship to Expertise

27 Feb 2011

The path of the master is neither clearly laid out nor easily traversed

A recurring theme within Victus Spiritus is the art of leveraging internal desire and drive to create critically valued products. On a number of occasions I've touted the precious power of genuine motivation. Show me a beloved tool or service, and I'll show you a team of ladies and gentlemen behind the effort who care deeply about their work. Reverence for one's craft originates from a myriad of sources which include personal meaning, collective social need, and a life time of dedication to mastery.

Historically, an expert was referred to as a sage (Sophos). The individual was usually a profound thinker distinguished for wisdom and sound judgment.

Somewhere along a path to professional excellence the line between skill and persona becomes blurred, where one can no longer be differentiated from the other. Ego is our understanding of self. Expertise is extensive knowledge or ability. Over years of dedicated practice and execution the essential qualities of mastery within a discipline spillover and eventually saturate every fabric of one's identity. Consider the relationship between neophytes and masters. Earnest and innocent questions from amateurs require great patience from experts to repeatedly answer and explain. At the same time the expert must remain open to new learning because the field they master is subject to the evolutionary forces of social and technological change.

As advanced skill invades the space of personality, so to does persona manifest within mastery. The flavor of expertise exhibited is deeply tied to individual drive and motivation (personal meaning). Within the field of art we observe coarse clusters of techniques yet a great variety of nuanced styles. The same holds true for musicians, web designers, data architects, and framework crafters. All of these trades elevate those who achieve mastery, and even within narrow fields recognize the value of specialized diversity.

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Tangents and Idea References:

Originally, Freud used the word ego to mean a sense of self, but later revised it to mean a set of psychic functions such as judgment, tolerance, reality-testing, control, planning, defense, synthesis of information, intellectual functioning, and memory.[1] The ego separates out what is real. It helps us to organise our thoughts and make sense of them and the world around us.[1]'The ego is that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world ... The ego represents what may be called reason and common sense, in contrast to the id, which contains the passions ... in its relation to the id it is like a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse; with this difference, that the rider tries to do so with his own strength, while the ego uses borrowed forces'[13]. Still worse, 'it serves three severe masters...the external world, the super-ego and the id