Learn By Copying First, Then Creating

I’ve had several days with the grandkids over the past five weeks. They are old enough, especially the oldest who is six, to start playing with a little more sophisticated toys.

Have you noticed how some of the “creative” toy companies have come out with more structured toys? Specifically Legos. You used to get a box with maybe a couple of examples on the lid and then you just let the kid start creating. Now, there are specific toys. I’ve been helping Wyatt build Nijagas (or something like that–I’m afraid that I’ve lost touch with kid culture).

Originally I’d have had a negative attitude about such structure. But I’ve discovered that he’s learning some tremendous lessons that are appropriate to his age.

He is learning to follow instructions on how to build something. In so doing, he’s learning about the different types of blocks and what they do. As he masters these, then, if he is so inclined, he’ll move on to creating his own masterpieces.

Every artist I’ve ever studied has begun by mastering all the techniques that came before. The great ones then extend the practice by adding their own insights and techniques.

Leaders study other leaders. Practice what they learned. Study some more, and become eventually great leaders.

Even spiritually. I think a lot about the very short scene we have about Jesus’ life where he was 12 (which was “older” than today’s 12 in developed nations) and studying with the greatest teachers at the time in his culture. Even Jesus didn’t just drop in a spiritual master. He was human, too, and had to learn. He was just predisposed to focus on the right questions.

That is the value of learning and practicing the traditional spiritual practices. You practice, and practice, and practicce.

Almost no one is born a master craftsman or spiritual guru. But we can all become a master at something. Just by spending 15 minutes first thing in the morning developing the practice of study and meditation will, over a lifetime, bring you to spiritual maturity.

Start by learning the basics and copying someone or something good. Then add to the practice and become a master–even a spiritual master.

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