Below is an excerpt from an article by Rob Redmond at 24Fighting Chickens. It's a little story he wrote about the difference between excellent performance and mastery. The full article may be read here.
The Master and the ChampionA long time ago, in a land far, far way, there lived two boys. The two boys were fast friends, and they could be seen together every day. When one of them wanted to swim in the river, the other went with him. When one of them wanted to ride horses, the other went with him. When one of them had chores to do, the other one helped him. They were always together in everything that they did.
by Rob Redmond - October 15, 2005
One afternoon, while the boys were down by the river skipping stones, some other boys a little older than they were came walking by. They saw the two boys standing by the river laughing and throwing rocks, and they decided that since no one was around, they could do as they pleased.
They walked up behind the two boys and said, “You two! Turn around. We want to talk to you.”
The two boys dropped their rocks and turned around. They were facing three older boys. The one in the middle was the one doing the talking. He said, “Do you have any money?”
The two young boys were frightened, but they answered him firmly, “Yes, why”?
The older boy said, “Give it to me.”
The boys answered, “No. You get your own money.”
At this the older boys looked at each other in shock. How dare these two speak to them in such a defiant tone of voice! The two boys were younger and smaller than they were. They would teach the two boys a lesson.
The older boy said, “You should not have said that!” And he ran at them with his friends. The two boys held up their hands and tried to struggle, but the older boys pushed them down on the ground and began kicking them.
The kicks hurt terribly, and two boys screamed for the older boys to stop kicking them while they lay on the ground. The older boys laughed and continued kicking until the young boys were beaten soundly. Then the older boys took their money, and walked away.
After that day the two boys decided that they would learn the art of karate. They walked together to the home of a man who they knew was a master instructor of karate. They knocked on his door together, and they waited together while they heard the shuffling of someone’s feet coming to the door.
The door opened slowly, and behind it was an old man with grey hair. He said, “Hello, boys. Why are you here?”
The two boys looked at each other, nodded, and then said at the same time, “We want you to teach us karate. Would you please, sir?”
“Why would you wish me to teach you karate?” He asked.
The boys answered, “We were beaten down by the river. We need to be able to protect ourselves.” They nodded after they said this, emphasizing that they were very ready for karate lessons.
The old man said, “I see. Very well. Come inside why don’t you, and we will begin your lessons at once.”