Blueprint >> Mastery

Disclaimer: This document is in raw form as I process and distill 4 years-worth of my personal development notes. Expect some typos and cryptic language for now. I will be updating frequently and polishing up.

Prescription: Understand the mastery process. Commit to mastering something.
Related Concepts: Deliberate Practice, 10,000 Hours, Life Purpose, Be Patient, Normalize Expectations, Kaizen

What is Mastery?

The entire process of learning a new skill, or developing expertise in some area of life. Mastery specifically refers to the psychological challenges of building expertise.

Why is it Important?

Failure to understand how mastery works leads to dabbling and impatience, and ultimately frustration and failure. Set proper expectations for how to achieve massive success in business, career, hobbies, and sports.

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Coach Leo Gura
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Mastery: Key Points

Mastery is the process of learning a new skill. You underestimate the importance skills play in the quality of your life. Man is a learning animal. We have the ability to expand our abilities through conscious effort, like no other animal. Mastery is the process by which you become great and success. What is difficult and painful at first becomes effortless and pleasurable after you've mastered it.

Choose 1 or 2 things that you are mastering over the next 10 years. What are you mastering? Make sure you are on a path of mastery in your career/work. Do not slack off in your career — too many bad things will happen. You want to become so good at what you do for a living that you provide exceptional value. Mastery is how you differentiate yourself from the rabble. Mastery is how to make the big bucks and amazing art.

Mastery is counter-intuitive is several ways. First, mastery is not about experiencing endless climax. Most of the mastery process is spent engrossed in bland, diligent work. To be a rockstar, you first have to learn to play the guitar, and that's not as glamorous as you'd think. Second, mastery is very difficult because of resistance and homeostasis. You will come up with excuses to keep yourself at the place you're at right now. Third, your skills don't progress evenly with time or effort. Sometimes you put in lots of effort without any noticeable improvement.

Mastery is ultimately important because your strategy should be to be the best in the world. Being the best in the world is highly desirable because the rewards are skewed towards being #1. If it's worth doing at all, it's worth doing it at a world-class level.2

The mastery curve — a few peaks, but mostly plateaus. Most of the time you're working without seeing any results. Are you prepared for that? Or will you give up?

Pop-culture and media aren't helping. An anti-mastery mindset pervades. Discipline and diligence are not valued. Instead, an expectation is set that we should be experiencing, quick, effortless results and enjoying endless climax. But that is not how life works. The reality is, you need to put in your hours. There is nothing glamorous about creating a 6-pack, getting good at the fundamentals of your job, learning to play tennis, or getting a college education. There are exciting moments, but most of the time is spent immersed in uneventful work.

Love the plateau. Since most of your time will be spent working, and not even seeing much improvement in your skills, you have to appreciate being on the plateau. Stop expecting climaxes, and start appreciating the subtle joy of diligent practice. Your goal is to develop a love to practice just for the sake of practice. And don't be attached to the results. Masters do not chase peak experiences or results.

Consistent practice creates a foundation for your life. It creates a sense of order and stability. The biggest benefit doesn't even come from the external results you will eventually get, but the way you feel when you're engrossed fully in mastery. It's an inner game thing. You feel grounded and you're in flow. Most people don't have that so they aren't happy.

3 common ways to screw it up:

  • Being a dabbler — always starting things and never finishing them because the initial excitement wears off.
  • Being obsessive — trying to bull your way through by force. It just backfires and leads to spectacular failure.
  • Being a hack — getting complacent and only doing enough to get by, without challenging yourself.

Talent becomes irrelevant when you consider the amount of training necessary. The hard-working student will always outperform the talented student. This is actually good news, because it means you can learn whatever you want. Your genes don't shut you off from any opportunities.

You must be prepared for serious negotiation with your resistance. You cannot slack off, or bull your way though. You need to walk the tight-rope. Sometimes you will have to take a step back for every two steps forward. Also be prepared for backsliding.

The plateau or the Dip is actually good. Appreciate it because it's what makes your skills/career valuable. If there wasn't a long, tough learning curve then it wouldn't be a scarce skill, and it wouldn't be valuable. So don't be bitter about it. Instead, enjoy knowing that the long struggle is what sets you apart from the rest.2


  1. Mastery, George Leonard
  2. The Dip, Seth Godin
Coach Leo Gura
Hire me as your coach. Super-charge your life. Email me now!
  • Redesign your life to align with your purpose
  • Mindsets and tools for exceptional success