Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment by George Leonard


The book is broken into three main sections, the journey, the keys, and the tools for mastery. The author has a strong background in aikido and while there are references to martial arts, there are examples of sport, business, and relationships as well. The master’s journey is not about peaks of achievement, rather the plateaus in between. People usually want to move on during the plateaus. A master looks to truly practice his craft during these time periods. Appreciating each moment for what it is and embracing it. To have mastery, keys include instruction, practice, surrender, intentionality, and the edge. Finding a good instructor is key to learning a craft. One must be willing to listen and follow the advice of the instructor, making sacrifices if needed. Practice isn’t about getting better at the skill, it is about enjoying the act of practicing. Surrender to the  instructor but also your own competence and perhaps pride. In order to truly improve on the mastery path, past experiences cannot cloud future opportunities. Intentionality is having a specific vision of what you want to accomplish, both long term and in the moment. Acting with purpose. The edge is the space between practicing without goals and focused on the next achievement. At times the edge is tested. With mastery it is about a journey not a destination. The master not only works through plateaus but embraces them. The master knows things come up that may interfere but keep moving forward. A true master never settles where they are or looks to a final destination, rather they recognize they are always on the path of mastery.

Influence on me:

The first concept that stood out is to embrace the process and the second is to be fully involved in the moment. These concepts were not new to me, but presented through the book the resonated at a high level. I have known that it is a long process to mastery but the mention of the plateaus stood out to me. One time I told my mom that no matter what I achieve I immediately look towards the next goal. I want mastery but never have viewed it as a long term process instead of a goal. I used to hate what I called stagnation. Stagnation is not having any achievements, not accomplishing tasks or goals. This was me looking to fast forward through plateaus. If I want to be part of the master’s journey I need to embrace the journey more and that is done through being in the moment. An example is cleaning my home. As I read the book, I took a break to clean and thought about the tedious task it is. Then I changed my mindset to be in the moment of cleaning. Using that time to separate myself from the driving mentality I have and do that process well. Having patience and working to clean helped my mind frame. I will continue to set and achieve long and short term goals but I will also keep in mind the master’s journey. I joke I am the jack of all trades but master of none. Now I think I am not a master but I am on the journey and that feels special. It isn’t about a title or pinnacle, rather improving daily through repetition of common tasks or starting new ones. I will keep moving forward being in the current moment and improvement will happen.


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