Letters From Your HairdresserThe Essential Traits of a Master HairstylistKate Allen

It takes motivation, commitment and the highest level of expertise to achieve a “master” status in any industry. To be the best is to practice being the best everyday and getting there is not for those who give up or tire easily. But for those who can rise above with patience and dedication, there is a world of possibility and opportunity waiting. And perhaps most importantly, there’s an industry waiting to be advanced by leaders who are willing to put in the work.

Professionalism – A master of any trade takes an enormous amount of pride in their work and they show this through their level of professionalism. If you don’t believe your work is worth respecting, then why should anybody else? A true leader knows that professionalism is setting them up for a good first impression. It sets the tone for interactions and expectations moving forward and is essentially how they choose to present their work to the world throughout the entire development and presentation process.

Expertise – In its truest sense, being a master of anything means having a deep understanding and ability to execute many various aspects of the trade to such a degree of perfection that they would be considered an expert. They typically don’t make elementary mistakes and when faced with a new challenge, they’ll show enough of a knowledge base that they’ll work through it calmly, confidently and successfully.

Pursuit of Knowledge – In a lot of ways, being the best means knowing there must be continued learning everyday to stay at the top. And though someone may have a lot of expertise, they obviously won’t know everything. Especially as a hairdresser, trends are constantly changing and evolving, so it’s inevitable that a master will be faced with something they don’t know. But the commitment to taking classes, attending hair shows on a regular basis and reading article after article must be there. And even more, a true master actually enjoys this pursuit. Someone who’s serious about being a master in their industry doesn’t stick to 9-5; they are passionate about learning as much as they can. They work ahead to learn about new techniques before others have even heard of them. And because of this, their work is constantly improving, therefore giving them more inspiration to keep growing. It’s a pattern that every leader lives on.

Innovation – To be a leader is to play an active role in moving the industry forward onto untouched paths. It means having a desire to progress and advance in finding more efficient and better ways to solve problems. A true master in any trade can look around them after moving through the ranks to the top and instead of feeling contentment and settling in, they create the next step. I always think of Neil deGrasse Tyson when I think of this trait. While others are still debating how the earth came into existence, he is lightyears ahead of us, pushing the boundaries of what we know about the universe and discovering and creating new ways of thought on a regular basis. I also think of my fiance, who when thinking about the prospect of retiring one day, says he couldn’t because his work in his lifetime is to advance his area in the technology field for the world to have and for the next generation to improve upon. Even if he wasn’t being paid, he would continue his pursuit of advancing the industry. That kind of dedication and passion can only come from a true master who’s committed to the highest level of innovation.

Humility – A master at anything must have the ability to live in humility. And what humility means to me is being able to recognize that as an individual, one can’t move to the top without the help of others before and beside them. It means being able to say “I’m sorry” when it’s necessary and being able to ask for help when it’s needed. There have been many people with great potential who thought they could do no wrong and because of their over-confidence, they sabotaged and stunted their growth and success. I don’t believe those people become one of the greats of their industry without adding a healthy dose of “please” and “thank you”.

Anyone can step into a position of leadership and hold a title. But a true master in the industry is someone who’s set apart from the crowd. Someone who’s earned the recognition of their peers and elders as “master”. You have to look no further than Gordon Ramsay in the culinary arts, Anna Wintour in fashion journalism or Tabatha Coffey in the beauty industry to see that a slew of common traits are shared. Among such industry giants, their immense success could be attributed to those traits which have made for a well balanced and dimensional leader in each of them. And I believe the traits that are shared by leaders constantly pushing forward towards greater results are the same traits that a successful master hairstylist must have.

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