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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment

Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment
by George Leonard

Dan John mentions this book in several places, so I figured it was probably worth checking out.

Turns out that it is. Not a big shock, really.

Leonard approaches the question of mastery from his perspective as a long-time practitioner of Aikido, but his insights into the quest for mastery are applicable to any endeavor. Leonard begins the book by describing three mindsets that he considers incompatible with mastery: the dabbler, the hacker, and the obsessive. He then lays out his five keys to mastery, detailing each one and how to approach it. Finally, he wraps up with some chapters on preparing for the journey of mastery.

It's a concise little book, but there is a lot of wisdom in here. The section on the dabbler, hacker, and obsessive are useful filtering tools, both for recognizing those behaviors in myself, and in people who train with me. The five keys to mastery, likewise, are pretty good sign posts, and a couple of them served as useful reminders of things I knew, but forgot again.

I confess I didn't love some of the "tools for the journey", as a lot of them were rehashed Aikido demonstrations like the "unbendable arm" (or the splayed fingers drill from the PDR system), and a few other things. I suppose if your goal is mastering Aikido, they have their use, but I'm not convinced that everyone needs to experience these drills.

Still, if you're looking for a way to focus on your goals, this is a good place to start. Lot of useful concepts in here.

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