‘”We measure everything, including ourselves, by comparisons,: and in the absence of someone with outstanding ability there is a risk that we easily come to believe we are excellent. … Mediocre people may appear big to themselves (and to others) if they are surrounded by small circumstances. By the same taken, big people feel dwarfed in the company of giants, and this is a most useful feeling. … I have no doubt that I owe this good fortune to the circumstance that I had an outstanding teacher at the critical stage of my scientific career.” … Of the 286 Nobel laureates named between 1901 and 1972, forty-one percent had a master or senior collaborator who was also a Nobelist.’*
‘Don’t worry, you’re not the first one to have a really creative idea that’s mostly someone else’s idea with a few tweaks. That’s innovation.’**
All of us are able to follow giants – not to be confused with celebrities who have giant reputations.
We may work individually but we can all benefit by establishing and utilising connection with others. These kinds of apprenticeship don’t have to be formalised: we can follow people’s work on the internet or through their writings – we may even meet up occasionally over coffee with those who can teach us.
Neither do these apprenticeships have to be within our specific domain – when we’re prepared to cross into another, some of the most interesting things begin to happen.
This leads on the recognise there are many possibilities for mutual-apprenticeships, in which everyone is learning from everyone else.
When we give ourselves to lifetime apprenticeships, we’re also giving ourselves to mastery. When we stop knowing and begin wondering, we’re being an apprentice developing our own style, our own art.
“Old men ought to be explorers
Here and there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For another vision, a deeper
(*From Alan Lightman’s Dance For Two, quoting Nobelist Hans Kreb writing in 1953 about his Nobel Prize and his teacher Nobelist Ott Warburg, a student of Nobelist Emil Fischer.)
(**From Hugh Macleod’s gapingvoid.com. Hugh is one of my masters. His books Ignore Everybody, Freedom is Blogging in Your Underwear, and Evil Plans, stirred a love for doodling I didn’t know was in me.)
(^T. S. Eliot, quoted in Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward.)