I was having a chat with a very good friend recently about mastery.
He is a hugely successful musician, and one would say that he had indeed mastered his trade. Many people call him exceptionally talented. Some people prefer to call him gifted. Others might say that he just got lucky.
I was thinking about this after our conversation. Although he is probably all of the above (talented, gifted and lucky) he also spent most of his childhood and adult life, practicing his trade. He probably spent more hours sitting at a piano or holding a guitar than most people spend sleeping in their lifetime. Talent and special gifts will only get you so far, if you don’t use the gifts to practice and practice and practice until you are better than anyone else in your game.
As George Leonard says in his book Mastery,
“Mastery isn’t reserved for the super talented or even for those who are fortunate enough to have gotten an early start. It’s available to anyone who is willing to get on the path and stay on it – regardless of age, sex, or previous experience.”
Too many times we let ourselves off the hook for failing, claiming that circumstances beyond our control conspired to stop us. Perhaps in some instances this is true. But for the majority of us, we just haven’t realised what it takes to be successful: to become a master of something. We’re too used to quick results and fast fixes. We want gratification and reward and we want it now.
Success is recognising that each small step along the way brings you closer to your goals. Success is recognising that each small step achieved, raises your self esteem. Success is the journey.
Perhaps if we really knew this we’d be inclined to stick with things a bit longer and truly become masters.