Mastery George Leonard Book Summary
Updated: Feb 7, 2021
In a world constantly offering us quick fixes and easy step by step programs to achieve goals in no time, with little effort, it is easy to forget that to become not just good, but truly great at something,… It takes time. This is where the concept of mastery becomes especially relevant. Mastery is not just about reaching goals, It's just as much about internalizing a philosophy that will keep you learning even after you’ve reached your goals. It’s a lifelong journey. But how to become a master at something? In this book, The Mastery, Leonard says that if there is any sure route to success and fulfillment in life, it is to be found in the long term, essentially goalless process of mastery. So if there is anything in your life that you want to become a master at, then you are in the right place. Let's look at the three most important lessons on how to become a master.
1-Mastery is about being a lifelong learner.
If you want to truly master something, you must be willing to remain a beginner. You must always focus on learning and the beginner mind is required for learning anything new. Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo asked to be buried in his white belt after death. What an awesome symbol. A true master knows that there are no experts. There are only learners. Your approach to learning should be that it will take time and effort to become good at something. You should see learning not as a necessary chore to get to your goals, but as an ongoing journey. Then you will start enjoying the process and be on your way to true mastery. But watch out, our society is usually about quick fixes, and these are the opposite of mastery. We are bombarded by daily marketing about magical solutions. They mislead people to think they have to get quick results or otherwise it won't work. Being a master is focusing on learning and not just the results, and to be a lifelong learner. Leonard was an Aikido master and a student once asked him “How long will it take me to master Aikido?” He responded with “How long do you expect to leave?”
2-The path of mastery is full of resistance
To learn is to change, and every change will face some level of resistance, Internal or external. Don't let what is, stop you from what it could be. The alarm bell that rings when you try something new, like Fear, sweat, higher heart rate, and discomfort, are just signals of growth. Don't ignore them and don't try to run away to safety, but look at them as signals of your improvement. I have a personal rule. If I don't feel uncomfortable doing something, then I know that I am not growing. So expect some level of resistance and discomfort in the part of mastery and welcome it. You will discover that your greatest learning happens when you are out of your comfort zone.
3-Mastery is about enjoying the process.
The most successful path to mastering anything is to practice for the sake of practice, not for the results. In the path of mastery, there will always be times when it feels as if you are stuck on a plateau. You have to be willing to keep practicing, even when it seems to be getting nowhere. As we practice things, even though it feels like we are making no progress at all, we are turning new behavior into habits. Learning is happening all along. As a master's, you find pleasure in all the aspects of the thing you are hoping to master. Rewards will always come to someone who commits to the practice. But for a true master, rewards are not the goal. The practice is the goal. Masters love the practice and because they love it, they get better and the better they get, the more they enjoy the process. It's an upward spiral. Mastering is not about perfection, it's about the process and enjoying the path.
So to summarize, find out what it is in your life that you want to be not just good, but truly great, then commit yourself to lifelong learning, welcome discomfort, and fall in love with the practice and the results will follow automatically.