Whether you like to admit it or not, YOU are your own worst enemy. Why do I say that? Because you are human and generally speaking we human beings are pretty good at getting in our own way. We all have things that we say we want; goals, hopes and dreams. We have old habits we want to break and new habits we want to instill. Mastery, particularly self mastery, is a key component in this if we are to live a life that is rich, full and happy. It takes going beyond where you normally get stopped and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.
So what is mastery?
- Comprehensive knowledge or skill in a particular subject or activity.
- Control or superiority over someone or something.
Immediately, there are two key aspects to it: The first is a commitment to technical excellence. Without it, there is no way of producing anything beyond the everyday and the ordinary. Michael Jordan is a brilliant example of this.
I never feared about my skills because I put in the work.
He came from a family of modest origins. No-one else was athletically inclined. Nor were they overly tall and he was not overly gifted at the sport either. He did however, posses a love of basketball and what made Jordan different was a commitment to excellence and a willingness to work on weaknesses and evolve them into strengths. He would watch video footage of games he had played and perfect his technique. For Jordan, this approach was a way of life.
How much mediocrity do you tolerate?
Good is the enemy of Great.
Here comes the second point. Is near enough good enough? One definition of integrity is that you do things as there are intended to be done or better. In the simplest of terms integrity is as important as what you doing matters. Take a look around you. How much mediocrity do you tolerate? Surrounding ourselves with daily reminders of what is average then becomes what is acceptable, condemning us to the ordinary. It is essential to remove all reminders of “average” as it limits what’s possible. Near enough, is never good enough for a champion. Surround yourself with people who aren’t afraid to hold you accountable and that ask more of you than you do…
If you are willing to commit yourself to mastery, it means a commitment to excellence and going beyond where you normally get stopped. At that moment, YOU are the only one who you can rely on to push yourself passed that point. How will YOU do this?
Across the Pacific, our American cousins aspire to success and mastery and they look to those who achieve success for inspiration. Here in Australia we live inside of a culture-scape that is permeated by the tall poppy syndrome. We love the underdog; we pay homage to the underdog. That would be fine, except once the underdog manages to get on top we then turn on him or her and find another underdog to champion. The other side of the coin there is a tendency to resent those who have achieved a level of mastery. Underneath all of this lies a lack of self-compassion and a tendency to compare ourselves to others. We are all ordinary to begin with. It is in doing the work and pushing through that we grow.
We all make mistakes
Develop a level of self-compassion so that when you are in the presence of mastery you can be both open and receptive to growth from the experience. We are all human and at some level in some things we experience our “ordinariness” and our shortcomings. What if you were to embrace your ordinariness and use it as the foundation for building the extraordinary?
You will make mistakes. That is a given. It is part of the process. You have two choices. You can “use” your mistakes as an excuse for inaction and for throwing in the towel. Or, you can use your mistakes as a vehicle to improve and correct. HOW you correct yourself matters. You can be both the hammer and the nail and drive yourself and it is not a process I would recommend. Rather, learn to correct quickly and without invalidating or shaming yourself.
You are always producing results. Those results are neither good nor bad but rather a reflection of where you are at; they are feedback. Using that feedback cleanly and correcting without invalidating yourself is key on the pathway to mastery. The ultimate mastery is the mastery of self.