“He who walks in another’s tracks leaves no footprints.”
—Joan L. Brannon
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash
A favorite book I read this past year is Mastery, by Robert Green, which was actually published in 2012.
This well-researched book was no light read for me, and I found myself taking in only five to ten pages at a time to ingest and digest its contents.
Masters often engage in various apprenticeships and mentoring relationships with others more skilled or experienced than they. A significant take away-for me was that there is always a point where they must step out of the footsteps of their mentors to venture out on the own personal mastery journey.
Where is it time for you to step out of the tracks others have left, to make your own unique footprints in the world?
“We never do anything well till we cease to think about the manner of doing it.”
—William Hazlitt, 19th Century British Social Commentator
How many activities in the following list have you engaged in over the past year?
- Giving a speech or major presentation
- Writing a book or significant article for publication
- Interviewing for a new job or promotion
- Playing golf, poker, or a game of chess
- Building a piece of furniture or other handy-person activity
If at least one of these activities occurred this past year, how well did you do? How competent, skilled, or masterful were you? How much effort, struggle, or ease and flow did you experience?
Hazlitt’s quote points to the fact that when we are so focused on doing things correctly we often diminish our own ability to do things well because of our preoccupation with our potential to make mistakes.
How and on what activity might a more playful approach, without much thought about doing things perfectly, help you enjoy the process and perhaps do far better than you might have imagined?
“The shortest distance between two points is under construction.”
—Noelie Altito, Poet
Image from Flickr by Aftab Uzzaman
Here in Michigan, we joke about how we have only two seasons – winter and construction. There is rarely a straight line from Point A to Point B, and anywhere you go usually involves lots of orange barrels!
As you explore the way between Point A and Point B in your professional and personal projects, consider how you can proactively improve the road conditions by using the finest construction materials possible.
Consider increasing your personal mastery as a leader, manager, coach, and communicator to optimize your construction efforts.
“I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying who listens or what they think.”
-Rumi, 13th Century Persian Poet
Image from Flickr by Matt Knoth
I am currently writing a chapter for a book on personal development and soul transformation with 30 other authors. My chapter covers the concept of Personal Mastery, which has been of interest to me my entire life. I’ve even developed my own coaching program I call Personal Excellence Training, to help others reach their next level of achievement.
One key to the personal mastery journey of virtually everyone I’ve studied is the bold and often courageous pursuit of authentic gifts, talents, and interests that make their hearts sing. Their efforts at self-expression were frequently met with considerable resistance and outright criticism from their peers and the general public.
Perhaps they were simply singing their own special tune, one that was ahead of its time, that many did not yet embrace or understand.
Where in your personal or professional pursuits is it time to be even bolder and courageous, voicing your special tune regardless of whether others listen, or what they think?
“Do More Great Work!”
—Michael Bungay Stainer, Sr. Partner at Box of Crayons
I am currently reading the book Mastery by Robert Greene, with great fascination. The subject of mastery has intrigued me all my life. This brilliant analysis includes stories of a wide variety of historic and current masters, and how their life journeys evolved.
Fundamental to the majority of these stories is a clear and authentic passion for the type of work or activity the subjects pursued. Each person tapped into their own gifts and unique abilities, and combined them with an unstoppable drive to pursue, develop, and contribute their talents to the world.
What does doing more great work mean to you? How can you do less bad work, or stop both the bad and even some good work, to make room for more great work in the year ahead?
Consider making the book Mastery a must read for 2016.
Another favorite I am sure you will enjoy is Do More Great Work by Michael Bungay Stainer, author of today’s quote.
“Though you can love what you do not master, you cannot master what you do not love.”
—Mokokoma Mokhonoana, South African Philosopher and Social Critic
Photo from makesafetyfun.com
Generally, the people who experience the greatest success and fulfillment in their professional lives demonstrated three key factors:
- They are enthusiastic and passionate about their work. Many would engage in whatever it is they do even if the monetary rewards were more modest.
- Because they love what they do, they commit massive amounts of time to the practice, and eventual mastery, of the skills involved.
- The final piece that accompanies this love and mastery is often the value ascribed to it by the meritocracy in which we live, and the rewards we often receive. How much is it worth in dollars and cents?
How and in what ways can doing more of what you love lead you toward a life of greater mastery and success? Consider reading one or more of these books, which speak in one form or another, to the spirit of today’s quote:
What to Do When it’s Your Turn by Seth Godin
Linchpin by Seth Godin
Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben
“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”
– Jon Acuff, New York Times Bestselling author
Have you or do you know anyone close to you who started a new job, hobby, or sport?
Although we all know cognitively that it takes time to build competency and eventually mastery, many people compare their own beginning skill level to others who have been on this or a similar journey for some time.
They see where they are limited or falling short because the comparisons they make are not equal, and actually unfair.
As you strive toward excellence in any area of life, be inspired by the mastery and capabilities of those you admire, yet compare your current capabilities only to those of what you were capable of yesterday.
“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.”
– Mikhail Baryshnikov, Russian ballet dancer
Image from awanderingjewess.com
If you have ever seen Mikhail Baryshnikov dance, you know just how brilliant he has been over the years. If you haven’t, I suggest you Google him and check out some video clips of his mastery.
Consider that your own life is a dance, where all that is required is to keep mastering your own professional and personal steps. These steps are within your control, and they allow you to express yourself fully and authentically.
During this new year, what will your personal continuous improvement program include?
As you establish your goals, include the measurable results and action steps you will take. How will you turn these action steps into sustainable habits that will get you there? Just think of it as dancing your way to a better you.