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The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment
- Read in 12 minutes
- Audio & text available
- Contains 7 key ideas
Mastery (1992) reveals how you can shift your mindset to achieve long-term success in new pursuits. Drawing on real-life examples from sports, psychology and mindfulness teachings, these blinks explain the five essential elements for achieving mastery in any discipline and give us the tools we need to bounce back from pitfalls along the way.
Key idea 1 of 7
Mastery is not a state to achieve, but a journey to live by.
Most of the time, we take on new activities with a singular aim – to master them. Be it tennis, chess or a new job, new pursuits can go from exciting to frustrating once we reach the point where our lack of talent seems to be staring us in the face. It’s tempting to give up, but you shouldn’t; you might still have a shot at mastery if you change the way you think.
The first step here is to rethink your motivations for learning a new skill. Many of us are seeking simple recognition from others and the gratification that comes with it. But if you practice tennis until you can do a handful of impressive shots, beat a few of your friends and be congratulated by spectators, you’ll only have the motivation to improve up to a point.
Once you’ve reached a level of skill that’s sufficient to earn you a bit of recognition, you’ll find yourself stuck in your comfort zone. Attempting new shots or competing against more challenging opponents becomes daunting, as you fear you won’t look as good while playing. A true master develops her talents by pushing forward for the sake of it, rather than chasing praise and encouragement.
Another key to mastery is your approach to learning itself, namely by cultivating a certain respect for the process. If you want to master tennis, you’ve got to accept that it’ll take time, patience and perseverance to perfect your forehand. Learning isn’t something you do for a while until you’re good enough – it’s an ongoing journey.
By shifting your mindset, you’ll find that you’re capable of mastering whatever you set your mind to. After all, you were a baby once! Babies enter the world incredibly vulnerable, with very few of the skills adults need to survive.
And yet, they learn at their own pace to crawl, walk, communicate, understand and think for themselves. Some infants learn to walk between nine and ten months of age, while others don’t master it until much later. Children are capable of learning motor skills despite their lack of physique and often slow learning speed.
In this way, learning isn’t about how fast you acquire new skills or how talented or fit you are when you start out; rather, it has much more to do with the journey you take along the way. So, the student who shows the most promise during the first few tennis lessons might not be the one who excels, while an initially clumsier player with a mastery mindset is far more likely to go on to be a pro.
But while a mastery mindset offers us a clear path to excellence, our society seems to reject it at every turn. Find out more in the next blink.