Getting a type rating or passing a check ride are certainly satisfying and, most often, fun exercises, but they don't make a pilot out of you. It is true of all technical pursuits, I suppose, that excellence comes from an admixture of talent, effort, practice and love. Three out of four of these qualities probably make for competency, but it takes all four for excellence. I've come to recognize lately that my assessment of my flying ability may not be as accurate as my robust narcissism might wish. That is, I enjoy flying, do a lot of it for a man who works 50 hours a week doing something else, but I am not a pro. That is another order of magnitude above my present "experienced amateur" pilot status. I've got the love part down, but lack in effort and practice. Somebody else has to make the judgment about the talent. Since I like to consider myself a pro at cancer surgery and I am often in the company of surgical trainees, I see more clearly now how the evolution of excellence in a surgeon and in a pilot are similar. A few recent experiences made this concept very clear. One was at work.