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Mastery: Are You Doing All You Can?

masteryLast year, I read a book that challenged me at a personal level, Robert Greene’s Mastery. In it, Greene asks, given that so many high-IQ people are pretty much failures at life, what separates the da Vincis and Mozarts–and modern-day examples such as musician John Coltrane, animal behaviorist Temple Grandin, and boxing trainer Freddie Roach–from the pack?

Greene came up with six common factors, all of which should give each one of us to ponder, “Where am I selling my own talents short? What next step would help me make more of the potential I’ve been given? How should I be working harder? Have I searched hard enough to identify the idea/cause/goal that would motivate me to pursue thousands of hours of deliberate practice to reach mastery?” Here are the common factors.

  • Dream. What captivated you as a child? In it may lie the roots of what you’d excel at. The stories he tells are of people who loved their fields so much that they can’t think of better things to do
  • Find a mentor. The right person is a master who is willing to share
  • Be an apprentice. Work alongside greatness, not worrying (for awhile at least) about what you gain beyond knowledge, connections, and ideas
  • Expand beyond your discipline. Make sure you’re exploring related fields and using other areas to enrich your own
  • Dedicate yourself to mastery. Yep, that 10,000 hours of intentional practice bit comes up–deliberate practice with expert, immediate feedback. But make use of your strengths when you practice, get into the details, and synthesize what you’re learning from many areas
  • Develop social intelligence. He tells interesting tales of Benjamin Franklin, Temple Grandin, and others, who studied those around them to understand how to get their ideas accepted

We never “arrive” at full mastery. What can you do in 2014 to take the next step toward being all you can be?

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Jane Kise is a consultant and executive coach. The founder of Differentiated Coaching Associates and author of over 20 books, she works with schools and businesses worldwide to help create environments where everyone can flourish.

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