Leave it to the Onnit Academy to come up with topics that not only keep the reader engaged and well-educated, but also challenges writers to think beyond the typical “sets and reps” of all the other conventional training magazines out there.
When I was asked to write about the topic of mastery; such an open-ended topic so many avenues to explore that I found myself taking a different approach from my other articles.
When I first read his email asking us to write about mastery, I was on a train heading to a soccer game and thought of the various ways I could envision the concept of mastery.
I never considered myself a master of any single training exercise or principle; there are countless trainers and athletes that grace the pages of Onnit Academy, each one challenging my knowledge with their different strengths and technical skills.
I strive to become the best version of myself and hone my craft to the fullest potential; with this determination my mind took me in a completely different direction. I suppose I was in a philosophical state of mind, so I began to jot down my thoughts about the ten paths we cross on the road to mastery.
Mastery Path #1: Dare to Rise Above Average
I truly feel that daring to rise above average is the most important realization an individual must have if he or she wants to become a master of something. This principle mindset is not to strive to envision yourself as better than everyone else, it is the act of not allowing yourself to accept complacency with being average.
Mediocrity is all around us because it is safe. Living normally, without risk or self-sacrifice would result in an existence without great rewards and certainly no mastery. Start thinking about how you would do things differently. Actions that are a step above what is normally done will bring you down the path to mastery.
Mastery Path #2: Realize Your Strengths
True masters realize what they’re good at, find a way to make it a part of their lives, and eventually use this to inspire others. We all know someone who is a master of their craft, people we look up to and dream about being like.
They might be a professional athlete or mechanical engineer, but one thing remains true among them: if the necessary skills are not naturally within them, most likely, they are not going to become masters of them.
It is better to find your strengths and be passionate about honing them. Always looking towards other masters you admire for constant inspiration will help you realize and hone your strengths.
Mastery Path #3: Set Goals
Setting goals is no different from what you have heard before. Mastery is not an accident; you do not simply stumble upon it one morning. Those who are experts in their craft have planned for months, even years to get to where they want to be.
Start by setting a long-term goal towards what you want to accomplish in the next five years; then set smaller goals that lead you to your main goal. Remember that success has a plan.
Mastery Path #4: Commit to Your Dreams No Matter What
As stated earlier, mastery does not happen overnight and you will come to this realization once you set your long-term goals. In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.
Such a feat takes unrelenting dedication. Though this may seem like a daunting task, if you commit yourself to moving towards your goal you will get better each day, each week, each month, and each year until you are close to mastery.
Mastery Path #5: Plan Your Attack and Take Action
Goals are fairly simple to think of and write down, but execution is the difficult part. How are you going to get to your first short-term goal and then the next? Having a plan of attack isn’t about being perfect, but it is crucial to getting yourself started along the road to mastery. One thing that stops us from pursuing anything in this world is fear.
Fear is the limiting factor of productivity, success, and ultimately mastery. Many successful business coaches like David J. Schwartz author of, The Magic of Thinking Big subscribe to the mantra that “action cures fear.” When you are moving towards your goals you don’t have time for fear to occupy your mind and take over, so don’t give it a chance. Be in a state of constant action.
Mastery Path #6: Seek Help
Even though they’re your dreams, you cannot venture down the road towards mastery alone. Find people who have done it before in the fields you are in or those who are successful in other areas who can help guide you along your journey.
The road to mastery requires constant education, encouragement, and support from many sources other than ourselves. When we draw from experienced, like-minded people the road becomes much brighter.
Mastery Path #7: Find the Lesson in Everything
One of my favorite quotes someone told me years ago was, “You have two ears and one mouth.” I took this to mean that I should listen more and talk less. Wherever you go, whether it is a familiar setting or somewhere completely new, listen to the people around you and educate yourself.
Some of what you hear will be useful to you and much of it will not; however, education can be found in everything. I find that I learn more about what I do not like according to what someone says or does more often than finding something applicable to my situation and life.
Mastery Path #8: Pay It Forward
I think the road to true mastery does not come without sharing your skills and educating others; after all, what is the point of having this knowledge and skill without helping others who truly want to learn about what you know?
When you help others with your mastered skill you are doing more that simply teaching them, you are inspiring them to want more out of themselves and live so they may also pursue greatness, passing their skills along to others down the road.
Mastery breeds mastery and the only way to do that is to put knowledge in the hands of people who continue to nurture it, again passing it along on your journey.
Mastery Path #9: Deal with Adversity
No one has a clear path towards the road to mastery and it is inevitable that you will have to deal with a setback or two. This is directly related towards your goal or sometimes it is an outside reason that slows down your progress.
Adversity can derail your plan for success if you allow it to consume your thoughts and replace your focus towards our goal. If you cannot put these unfortunate, though inevitable, occurrences eventually behind you it can lead to fear, lack of drive, and eventually making the excuse of, “This is why I cannot do this.”
True masters find a way to overcome these setbacks, recalibrate their action plans, and use them to make them stronger and more focused with a greater determination to achieve your goals.
Mastery Path #10: Never be Completely Satisfied
True masters are always looking to better themselves, continuing to help those around them to achieve greatness. Most people are never satisfied with where they are. This isn’t a negative connotation, but rather a desirable trait for success. Masters do celebrate the achievement of goals and personal accomplishments; however, they will not simply sit back and collect royalty checks once they reach the top of the mountain.
They may relax a bit, take in the view, and then find the next mountain to climb. It is the intrigue, want, and assertiveness that makes a master stand out among the ordinary. All of us are born to dream of things we want to accomplish with our lives, however, many of us find it hard to take the first step towards it.Hopefully these thoughts set you on your journey of mastery, helping educate others and aid their wish to follow their own path. Now go out and make it happen.
Pick a few skills at a time. Work at them constantly as a focus of your practice for an extended period.
- Don’t forget to always try new things (sidenote: use what works for you).
- After a while rotate in a few new skills.
- Keep a high level of integration on the ones you just worked on.