Hi, this is Brian.
Welcome back to another Areté +1°, a micro-chapter from Areté: Activate Your Heroic Potential.
One of 451 big ideas.
THE (LUCKY) MASTER’S PATH
WALK ONE MILE & YOU’RE TWO MILES FARTHER AWAY
I highly recommend it.
Now… When you think of the path of mastery and the master who walks that path, what vision comes to mind?
How would you describe it?
Take a moment and think about that.
Here’s how Leonard frames it: “We fail to realize that mastery is not about perfection. It’s about a process, a journey. The master is the one who stays on the path day after day, year after year. The master is the one who is willing to try, and fail, and try again, for as long as he or she lives.”
That’s mastery. It’s a PROCESS.
When we commit to the path of mastery we stay on that path day in and day out. Month in and month out.
YEAR after YEAR after YEAR.
The alternatives to Mastery? Well, Leonard tells us we can be what he calls a “Dabbler” or a “Hacker” or an “Obsessive.”
Here’s the quick look.
The Dabbler: Gets really into something for a while and loves the quick results but the moment the newness fades, he or she is off to the next new thing—rationalizing that it just wasn’t a good fit. Hence, no mastery.
The Obsessive: A bottom-line type of person who wants to get the tennis stroke right on the first lesson and, when results start to slow, pushes even harder to make it work, ignoring the fact that plateaus are part of the path of mastery—pushing and pushing mercilessly to create a continuing upward curve. Then? Injury/burnout/etc. Followed by a sharp, sharp decline. Hence, no mastery.
The Hacker: After sort of getting the hang of something, the hacker is content to stay at a plateau—never really improving his skills beyond the first basic level. Hacking, hacking, hacking. Hence, no mastery.
The Master. The Dabbler. The Obsessive. The Hacker.
How are you showing up these days?
As you reflect on that, here’s one more piece of wisdom from the book that is permanently tattooed on my brain.
First, just a little more context.
Recall that Masters are ALL about the PROCESS of Mastery. They have goals that inspire them but that’s not their primary focus. They are ALL IN on the PRACTICE of showing up day in and day out.
Now, when you get THAT engaged in the process and walk the path of life like a true master, you get to a point where you fall SO in love with the whole journey side of things that (and this is the tattoo on my brain), for every mile you walk toward your destination, you actually hope that your destination gets TWO miles farther away.
Think about that for a moment.
You’re so in love with who you are and what you are doing and who you are becoming in the process of showing up day in and day out that you don’t want to rush right up to your destination. You want to savor every moment and see just how far you can go in this precious journey of life.
I repeat: For every mile you walk toward your destination you hope that your destination gets two miles further away.
THAT’s the master’s attitude.
Let’s let the master himself, George Leonard, describe it in his own words.
Here’s how he puts it: “For a master, the rewards gained along the way are fine, but they are not the main reason for the journey. Ultimately, the master and the master’s path are one. And if the traveler is fortunate—that is, if the path is complex and profound enough—the destination is two miles farther away for every mile he or she travels.”
I repeat: “If the traveler is fortunate—that is, if the path is complex and profound enough—the destination is two miles farther away for every mile he or she travels.”
May we all be fortunate to have such a complex and profound path that our destination is two miles farther away for every mile we travel.
See ya on the trails, my dear Heroic master!