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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

Mastery Starts With Self

I really believe when I teach and train on mastery, I get as much, if not more out of the session as do the people with which I’m working. Mastery in it’s purest sense is not a quick fix, not a particular fixed point in time. Mastery is a commitment to your discipline or your art.

Committing to something in this way means you are in it for the long haul. You strengthen yourself against tough times, lack of progress, temptation to “fall off the wagon” and always come back to re-start the process to mastery.

There’s an old story about a lady stopping to ask a New York policeman, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” The policeman replied, “Lady, you just gotta practice!”

Where does mastery and this practice start?

In our leadership training processes, we believe mastery starts with self. Self-mastery is the ability to attempt to achieve your own personal maximum potential. There are a few keystone components to this, but for today, I’ll just list seven.

1. Security of Self

Mastery in the area of security of self means that you are not concerned with the opinions of others and their perceptions of you. You must learn to ignore all the negative stories about yourself, while at the same time, developing a strong sense of reality about your weaknesses and shortcomings. There is a difference. I recently had to test my own ability in this area when someone looked me straight in the face and told me I was not happy. Yes, I’m serious. Really. It’s amazing, but true that people will try to project their own unhappiness on to you and try to convince you it’s you and not them. Security of self melts this like a snowball in the noonday sun. Rather than taking others’ opinions of you as the determinant of your self-worth, decide what your opinion is of you.

2. A Sense of Purpose

Leaders get out of bed in the morning because they have a clearly defined sense of purpose. Peak performers enjoy the journey even when it is difficult because they are passionate about where they are going. Where are YOU going?

3. Clearly Defined Values

Passion is good, in fact, it’s created out of your sense of purpose. Your sense of purpose and wanting to fulfill it creates the passionate fuel that drive you forward. Your values direct you as a leader, so you must be crystal clear about what you value. You can ask yourself three questions to help you discover your values.

A. What gets me excited?

B. What do I personally stand for?

C. What do I do about my values?

4. Positive Expectancy

This is not just positive attitude. Do you focus on your setbacks in life or find things that will move you forward? What we believe to be intuitively true is also valid and quantitatively true. So, how you view the world and what you expect from it impacts you and your self-mastery as well as the influence and confidence you create in the people around you.

5. Discipline

We simply cannot demand excellence from others if we do not demand it from ourselves. We need to always expect and command the very best from ourselves. There are many people around you whose services you use who you would not want to determine the quality of work they put forth to be based on their mood or lack of sleep last night. You should strive to provide your best performance in all you do. Will you choose that which just satisfies you for today? Or…will you delay instant gratification to benefit over the long run? Cue The Eagles song.

6. Credibility Through Experience & Confidence

No leader will ever have a perfect track record of success. However, credibility comes from learning the many lessons of failure through experience along the way. Learning from your mistakes helps you develop credibility and confidence. Get famous at something. Get better at some aspect of your area in which you are better than anyone else. Own some aspect of what you do for yourself. People who are really good at something almost appear magical, as if they were born to do this very thing.

7. Emotional Growth Through Study & Introspection

You should proceed every life event with intense study and follow up every significant life event with introspection. Last Christmas season, I was with friends at a bookstore in Kansas City and one of them was buying a few books on entering into teenage years with their daughter. What to expect, how to handle certain things, what to expect. This is what I’m talking about, entering into a significant life event by preparing yourself as much as possible. After every experience, we should ask what lessons we learned and document them for future opportunities. How powerful. Introspection is not only reflecting on what you did, but also how you felt about what you did, how you felt while doing it and what you learned from it.

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