The New Rules of Mastery
The art of mastery and becoming an expert in anything is a process. No one rolls out of bed and is instantly a master of their craft. Though all paths worth traveling take time, use these three Rules and you just might get to your destination faster and be less likely to give up when things get tough.
I was asked to contribute my thoughts on a topic I explored two years back on what I thought the Road to Mastery involved (you can read the original article here.)
Being much different than my usual fitness insights into exercise selection, technique fixes and programming sets and reps; the idea of mastery is, in a way, much harder to write about because the idea is not something tangible.
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The reasoning behind my viewpoints is purely subjective based on my experiences, outcomes and emotions up until this point in time.
In my previous article, I had 10 components that I deducted were necessary to have in the forefront of one’s mind as they journeyed down a road less traveled towards mastery. These included:
- Dare to be above average
- Realize your strengths
- Set goals
- Plan to be committed to your dreams no matter what
- Plan your attack and act
- Seek help
- Find the lesson in everything
- Pay it forward
- Deal with adversity
- Never be completely satisfied
This list still holds true in my mind as I continue my journey towards my own vision of mastery. I constantly reflect on how I can make my journey better by constantly refining the specific ways I try to attain mastery.
Upon recent reflection, I pondered my last year and thought of my ultimate life goal and what I could do more/less of to master it. Below are the three components I have concluded which could be beneficial for you, the reader, as you embark and continue on your own personal journey.
New Rules of Mastery #1: Keep It Simple
You can find plenty of books, videos, articles and quotes on keeping it simple but I have found that simplicity does not always start out that way.
You must read and implement numerous training programs, partake in courses and continuing education, and accrue vast experiences to truly know what you can keep and what you can let go of.
As Bruce Lee said, “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.” Only by seeking knowledge, putting the new knowledge into practice through many hours of experience, trial and error, can we truly know what is useful for our lives.
There is a time in life to go after as much knowledge and experience in fields related to your passion when beginning down your road to mastery.
After a certain amount of time it is best to understand which type of knowledge you will dedicate your attention towards and forget about the type of learning that will detract you from becoming a master in a certain area of life, thus keeping it minimal.
As a trainer I am primarily focused on everything that goes into sports performance training including: injury prevention protocols, speed and power production, strength training technique. I realized I was not as good as a “weight loss specialist” and therefore do not dedicate my time and effort in trying to become one.
Only when we have more than we need (information, skills and tangible items) can we begin to recognize and eliminate what doesn’t advance our purpose for mastery.
Being minimal helps to keep focus on what’s important and gives us the ability to concentrate on a few goals rather than trying to be a little bit of everything and mastering nothing.
New Rules of Mastery #2: Master the Basics
One thing I have noticed in recent years is the best athletes are the ones not forcing the fancy tricks or flashy moves; they are the ones who understand and utilize the basic foundational movements which are the pillars for their success.
People who represent the best at what they do have built a solid foundation based off of the basics and execute them flawlessly with frequency. The basics are not solely for beginners; they should remain an integral part of everyone’s regimen.
In the fitness world, the basic exercises of pullups, push-ups, squats and deadlifts remain some of the best to build muscle, strength and athletic prowess and are found in programs ranging from the beginning athlete to the professional power and Olympic lifter.
Famous cellist Pablo Casals continued to practice intensely with his cello in his eighties and nineties and when he was asked why he replied, “I think I’m making progress.”
As one masters their craft they grow based on the basics and as they progress they gain a deeper understanding of those basics and how they can be applied to master their craft.
New Rules of Mastery #3: Be Positive
Having a positive outlook, even in the most trying of times, helps shape our attitude and overall outcome in life. Negative outcomes should be looked at as learning moments and help change our path, thinking and execution towards improving our futures.
Dwelling on past events put us in a state of limbo, or even worse, in a downward spiral which not only makes it difficult to get out of, but, causes us to become side tracked from our ultimate goals. Unless these events are dealt with, learned from and moved past, we will never be on the path to mastery of our destiny.
Many of these negative events are caused because we are prisoners of our own mind. We have the power to break the cycle and find the positive in everything. Keeping a positive attitude in the forefront of our thoughts can be the key to mastering our own mind and eventually our lives.
Inexplicable tragedy is another event that can hinder a positive attitude and keep people from mastering their craft. It’s important to grieve and find ways to move on in a positive manner in order to continue to achieve one’s goals.
I recently saw a video of famous Hollywood actor Keanu Reeves and how his life was sadly affected by several unexplainable tragic events:
- At the age of three, his father left their family
- He attended four different high schools and struggled with dyslexia
- At the age of 23, his closest friend River Phoenix died of a drug overdose
In 1998, Keanu met Jennifer Syme. The two fell instantly in love and by 1999 Jennifer was pregnant with their daughter. Sadly, after eight months, their child was born stillborn. They were devastated by her death and it eventually ended their relationship. 18 months later, Syme would die in a car accident.
Even with those incredible tragedies, he has become a successful Hollywood actor and constantly tries to master every aspect of his life to be the best person he can be.
Dwelling on things that cannot be explained can lead to paralysis and fear which is the poison of mastery. Intrigue, passion and assertiveness make a Master stand out and live a life they choose to create.
Hopefully these three components of utilizing only knowledge that is essential, constantly referring to and practicing the basics and maintaining a positive attitude sets you on your journey toward mastery.
As you progress with your journey using these components, you will find that you will be able to educate others and assist in helping them to follow their own path. Now go out and make it happen.
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