What is mastery? Mastery is a state of performance one reacheswhere every action in the mastered activity reflects unconsciousexcellence. Think of the martial arts master who has achieved a 5thdegree black belt. He no longer has to think about each of themovements he must take to strike a blow or execute a kick through awooden board. When this master throws a punch, he does not thinkto himself “first I must raise my arm, then I must pull it back and finallyI must release it with tremendous force to strike at my intended target.”Rather, after many hundreds of days of consistent and concentratedpractice, he has reached a level of performance where a punch can flyas easily as the master breathes.
The same is true for the concert pianist, the elite athlete or thetop flight trial lawyer who, once on her feet in the courtroom, enters azone or mental state where every ounce of focus is on the case beforethe judge. Nothing else matters and time has no meaning. The truemaster, when engaged in the mastered activity, lives purely in themoment. You have had such experiences.
“A man possesses nothing certainly save a brief loan of his ownbody yet the body of man is capable of much curious pleasure,” wroteJ. B. Cabell. We are capable of exceptional pleasure and happiness inour lives. “The state of the true master, where time slips merrily by whilethe activity is being performed, has been called the state of Flow andcan be cultivated.”
The path of mastery rises above the world of the “quick-fix.”Mastery of your mind, body and character, just like mastery of anyother activity, requires discipline, persistence and hard work. But theresults will change every element of your life and you will understandthat there truly is no more noble cause than strengthening yourself.
Commitment and Desire
As with every important goal, it is essential to know youroutcome and precisely what you want. Sit down and assess your desire.Is it a worthy, productive one? What benefits will you receive throughmastery of the activity in question? Then make a decision to reach thepoint of mastery. Make a pact with yourself to do whatever it takes toget to your goal. Think how you will feel as a master of the desiredactivity. Think about the confidence that this will inspire in you. Youare a person of character; push yourself to achieve what you want.
Knowledge and Instruction
Once you are certain of your outcome, become determined toamass a storehouse of knowledge on the subject you want to master.The answers to everything you would want to know are out there. Allof life’s mistakes have already been made. Is there really a need for youto make them all again?
Talk to people who have become masters. What did they do toachieve their success? Read books on the subject, listen to cassettesand attend seminars to understand what it is you must do to advanceon your chosen path of mastery. Seek out the very best instructionpossible and listen to what you are taught. Learn to associate atremendous amount of pleasure with learning. You will never bedisappointed and your life will become one inspiring adventure.
Kaizen and Consistent Practice
Kaizen, a Japanese concept, is a constant andnever-ending improvement – increasing your value. To gain total masteryof yourself, you must do something every day to develop yourself andyour potential. This is nothing more than practice and thedevelopment of good habits which will help you reach the higherlevels to which you aspire. Money you are paid for your contribution depends on the value you have added to the world at large. The best way to begin adding value to the world is to start becoming a more valuable person. “You cannot have that you want if you remain the person you are. To get more from life, you need to be more in life.” Robin Sharma would advise.
No path is free of challenges and obstacles. This is the way ofNature. Little hurdles appear to offer you tests and opportunities torefine and expand yourself. Think of all of the problems you haveencountered in your lifetime. Have you learned a lesson from everyone of them? Most people have. And yet the average person avoidsproblems like the plague rather than embracing them and realizingthat every difficulty will pass and leave us with little nuggets of wisdomthat we can use in other areas of our lives.
The real key to mastery of yourself is persistence. Nothing canstop the person who simply refuses to be stopped. There is a solutionto every problem and if you want something bad enough, you will finda way to achieve it. There is no success story without the presence ofpersistence.
Raise Your Standards and Keep Pushing
A famous international boxing champion was once asked thesecret to his phenomenal physique and fitness level. He said, “I dailyexercise my body against great resistance.” Pushing his muscles againsttremendous weight built him up into the elite athlete that he became.The same physical principle applies to your mind and the mastery ofyour inner and outer world.
On a daily basis, you must exert your will-power to do thosethings which you may not like to do. Peak performers do things thatunsuccessful people do not like to do even though they too might dislikedoing them. Do that which you fear and the fear vanishes into thin airnever to return.
Even the Teachers Have Teachers
Always keep an open mind. No matter how disciplined andsuccessful you become, remember that even the giants have teachers.There is no one on this planet that cannot learn more, improve moreand live a better life.As soon as you close your mind to new opportunities and ideas,you close off a part of your self-mastery path and your quest will beharder to carry out. Maintain a sense of humility and realize that youcan learn something from everyone. Every person that you meet everyday is a teacher of some sort. Listen to what they have to say and openyourself to the knowledge that exists for the taking.
Have Fun and Enjoy the Journey
Happiness is not a destination that is to be reached after a long trekthrough this world. Rather, happiness is a manner of travellingthrough your life. One of the greatest truths is that every moment ofevery day is pure perfection, whether you realize it or not. There is nochaos in the world and everything happens for a reason. Today, realizethe perfection and wonders of your life and do not waste a singleminute in regret about things in the past. The past has no relevance toyour future and the achievements of which you are capable.As you refine yourself, developing your mind power, your bodyand your character, enjoy the journeytowards your goals. Have fun and be playful.
Share Your Knowledge and ServeOthers
When all the wisdom of the wisest thinkers and philosophersthroughout history is distilled, the purpose of our existence becomesclarified. The overriding objective of our lives stands high above allother pursuits and is simply stated: we are here to give to others.“Thepurpose of life is a life of purpose and a life of purpose is createdthrough constant service to those around us.” When all is said anddone, the quality of your life will be measured by thequality of your contribution. One of the greatest of all of the masterkeys to lifelong success is serve others and the quality of your own lifewill profoundly improve.Practice “random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.”
The awesome power of God is reflected in the fact that if we want to do something for others, our availability is every bit as important as our capability. God works through us when we reach out for others. Once you make yourself available for good works, guess whose capabilities you can rely on? God’s! The Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”