The Ancient Advice For Masters Of Their Craft To Keep Taking Lessons Even After Achieving Greatness

Professional musicians often keep taking music lessons after ascending to stardom. Athletes continue working with coaches after they become professionals and Olympians. Lawyers often hire other lawyers to represent them for legal matters. Professors and teachers will frequently say that they never stop being students of their field even after becoming renowned scholars. This idea that people should continue to hear second opinions and receive coaching or lessons, even after becoming a master of a craft, did not originate in the modern-day. Quite the opposite, it is actually an incredibly ancient piece of advice, and the likes of Aristotle (c. 384-322 BCE) would have taught the notion to figures such as Alexander the Great (r. 336-323 BCE).  On this line of thought, Aristotle wrote in his Politics, “doctors when ill call in other doctors to treat them, and trainers other trainers when they themselves go into training—on the principle that it is impossible to give true judgement when their own interests and their own feelings are involved” (Aristotle, Politics, Bekker number 1287a). Therefore, this idea that everyone, even established professionals, should always continue to seek education and betterment is a notation that connects all the way back to the most ancient times of human history.

Written by C. Keith Hansley

Picture Attribution: (Boxers from a Black-Figure Oinochoe (Wine Jug), dated c. 550–540 BCE, [Public Domain] via Creative Commons and the Cleveland Museum of Art).


  • The Politics by Aristotle, translated by T. A. Sinclair and revised by T. J. Saunders. London: Penguin Classics, 1962, 1992.

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