“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.” – Albert Einstein
What is mastery?
Only a select few are deemed masters of their craft, implying they have reached the very top of their game, respected by all others in that field.
It applies to all vocations of life – business, leadership, sports, design, technology, and hospitality to name just a few.
From the outside, it can seem an impossible accomplishment for me or you. We believe we have to be some kind of genius or prodigy to attain that level of accomplishment and success, but that’s simply not the case.
“Mastery, I learned, was not something genetic, or for a lucky few. It is something we can all attain if we get rid of some misconceptions and gain clarity as to the required path. I wanted to share these ideas with the public because I believe we are living in unusual times.” – Robert Greene.
So the question is, how do you become a master of anything?
There’s only one way to become great at something:
Learn from someone who already knows how to do it really well, and then do it yourself.
Do it some more. Push past the initial disasters and failures. Keep on doing it. A couple of years will pass and you’ll notice you’ve become good at it. Do it some more after that. Learn from your mistakes, sharpen your methods, and just keep on doing.
It is said to take between 6 and 10 years to become great at anything, depending of course on how often you do it. So unless you’re willing to wholly dedicate yourself to your craft, you won’t come close to mastery.
As Tony Robbins says, “Contrary to popular wisdom, knowledge is not power – it’s potential power. Knowledge is not mastery. Execution is mastery. Execution will trump knowledge every day of the week.”
Follow Your Passion
We are living in an incredible time where you can pursue whatever it is you’re most passionate about, and likely turn it into some form of a living.
You see, when your heart is in something, your motivation and enthusiasm will get you through all of the inevitable setbacks and curveballs that life throws your way. Following your passion is the best way to ensure you have long lasting success.
Caving in to pressure from your family or friends, or chasing a quick buck may bring you success in the short run, but as you grow older that lack of deep connection to your work will catch up with you.
Following your passion is key on the road to mastery.
Find a Mentor
What’s great about a mentor or a coach is that they become deeply invested in you and your success – and that doesn’t stop at the thing you’re trying to master; they care about your personal life too.
A mentor is much better than a friend, because they won’t tell you what you want to hear – they will tell you what you need to hear because they know that’s what’s best for you in the long run.
Usually, a mentor is someone who has already achieved what you’re trying to achieve, and has relevant experience in the same field, which means that your learning and growth will be accelerated than if you were to walk down this path solo.
Their first-hand experience will help you overcome certain obstacles, and be an invaluable source of knowledge and advice on how to always be progressing forward.
Get Feedback (from others and yourself)
You already know it takes between 6-10 years to become great at anything, but how do you know what to do during that time? How can you be certain you’re improving and moving forwards?
This is where feedback comes in.
After every mission, Navy SEALs do a review of what happened to get feedback, and they spend 90% of their time on the negative so they can figure out what they can do better next time.
Of course, it’s important to celebrate your success along the way, but you also have to constantly be analyzing your actions and seeing what can be improved. Take some time out regularly to self-assess too, and reflect on how you think you’re doing.
As we already touched upon, it’s by doing that we are able to reach mastery.
When you repeatedly attempt the same task, you train and condition your mind to be stronger, and the knowledge you gain is stored for you to call upon in the future when you need it, helping you to find solutions and recognize patterns.
Michael Gladwell’s 10,000 hour theory, suggests that we will need to put in thousands of hours of practice before we can truly gain expertise in any area. During that time, we will continue to fail, learn, and improve.
This is why being passionate is so important – unless you’re passionate about what you’re doing, chances are you won’t last.
It’s not about luck.
It’s not about talent either.
It’s about commitment to your craft. Anyone has the capability to reach mastery if they are willing to put in the time and effort it takes.
The truth is, most people aren’t. Most people want instant gratification, and allow themselves to be intimidated by the mountain that lies ahead of them.
Will you encounter setback and failures? Definitely – that’s the only way you can truly reach levels of greatness. But it’s about persevering and pushing through those tough times, keeping faith that you will reach your goal eventually.
Seize Every Moment
Don’t say you don’t have time – you have exactly the same amount of hours each day as Steven Spielberg, Oprah and Bill Gates all have
How much time do you spend watching TV? How much time do you waste commuting to work each day? How much time do you spend socialising with your friends?
If you’re serious about mastering your craft, you’re going to have to learn to say no to other things that are holding you back from greatness.
Now, there’s not much you can do about that commute to work each day, but how about listening to an audiobook or podcast so that you’re actively learning something instead of wasting that precious time?
We live in a time where the majority of people want to see instant results. We have zero patience. We’ve been sold the idea of “overnight” success, even though it’s a total lie. We try something for a week or two, don’t see the outcome we were hoping for, and simply give up and conclude that’s not suited to us, or it doesn’t work.
The road to mastery requires a tonne of patience and focus while you’re working your way through unforeseen obstacles, failures, and occasional changes in direction.
It’s true what they say – all good things take time.
And you do have time, remember?
Share Your Knowledge
The title of master will be something you earn after years of dedicating your life to it. In order to get there, it’s imperative you learn the importance of sharing your knowledge and wisdom with others.
That might mean lecturing at a college, or even becoming a mentor yourself.
The more you share what you know, the easier it will be for others to recognize you as an expert, and validate your credentials.
And, the great thing about teaching others is that you end up teaching yourself. You’ll learn to adapt, you’ll grow in confidence, and you’ll become even more patient as a result.
The majority of us only use a tiny percentage of the potential power we hold in our brain. What sets masters apart from the rest is they take a step further and harness more of that potential.
Follow your passion for long enough, ensuring you are progressively learning and growing each day, and you’ll find it hard not to achieve something extraordinary.
Thanks for reading