by George Leonard
In 1992, George Leonard wrote the book, “Mastery.” And he did so from the perspective and life experience of one who has become a martial arts master, an experienced instructor, an experienced learner. Written following the late 80s S&L debacle, it is as current for today’s events as it was then, 17 years ago.
The notion of mastery is one that struck a chord with me. Each of us may be considered a master of something depending upon the perspective of a friend or colleague viewing us. Business colleagues may view me as a master of problem solving; I have patience to look at a problem, the ability to address the root cause and not just symptoms. Fellow motorcyclists may view me as a master rider, smooth in execution, skilled, competent, and experienced. Internally, we may agree with these external views, or not.
But when asked how to achieve mastery of something, regardless of what it is, we need to realize we are on an endless path toward mastery. We must always be learners, always learning something new, always practicing what we know…even the basics.
From a business-oriented, professional side this is why I elected to develop this blog. How better to understand the mechanics of something I’m asked to provide guidance on, than to do it myself, to practice, to lead. But I could only have gotten here by learning something new. And, this is a point to which Leonard talks-learn to love the plateau. As we learn, we experience momentary ‘jumps’ in ability that eventually settle back into a plateau, after which we (at some point) are likely to experience another ‘jump.’ Think of this as the notion of two steps forward, one step back. And so it is with my first blog. I learned, a good chunk, I’ve put it in place, and now I’ll settle into the plateau, practicing.
We cannot experience endless steps forward without a period of recovery. As our nation, our economy, and we ourselves find a plateau (there’s no saying a plateau has no bumps), use the opportunity to prepare. For as dark as things may actually be at times, see what you can possibly do to continue practicing your art, perhaps to learn something new, to be ready to appreciate that next great leap upward when the time comes.