How do you get great at something? What does it take to achieve mastery with a critical skill in your life? In the last blog, we talked about motivation and how it might have changed. Today, I hope to take your life to the next level.
Earlier this week we talked about Dan H. Pink’s book called Drive and shared that strong leaders understand both internal and external motivation for themselves and others. Today, we talk about personal and professional mastery.
How do you know when you are on your way to developing mastery of a key strength? The first indicator that you may be working with a key strength is that you really enjoy doing it. If you don’t really enjoy doing something, you never become great at it. As you go through your day think about what are you doing that makes time fly by.
If you’re a busy entrepreneur, you might need to keep track of what you do for a day or a week to uncover what you really enjoy doing. I find many smaller business entrepreneurs pride themselves on all the things they do well. If you want a quick reality check, ask your wife, partner, or children. They can remind us that we are not always perfect.
When I shadow coach, I find that within several hours I can uncover what a leader does well. I find many times, it a better investment of their time to give them a test to provide me a baseline of how they see themselves. I understand a test cannot evaluate a person completely, but it gives a great start point on the way to mastery. The combination of testing and first hand observation is a hard combination to beat.
The second way to know you might be on your way to mastery is that you find something deeply satisfying and personally challenging. Your pursuit of this to the exclusion of other activities may give you an indication that this something your want to master. Most entrepreneurs have ADD. This means when they do focus on something, it is an indicator that you may want to master it. I can hear you saying, “That’s common sense, Tripp!” It is, but as we’ve discussed before, common sense has increasing value to a leader when they are almost always working in overwhelm.
One of my most interesting clients is known for sitting in his office reading annual reports and waiting for the phone to ring. He has been doing this for many years. Think it’s easy? Try to do it your office. Not for an hour or even a day, but try it for several days and you understand why he’s able to identify significant investing opportunities where others can’t. He is very good at focusing on critical success factors in an industry and then identify the reasons they can command higher prices than their competitors.
If you want to achieve mastery, it has to become a mindset. A successful mindset means you are always increasing your capabilities in the field you will never completely master. I spent an entire day watching Tiger Woods at the Memorial Tournament when he was at the top of his golf game. I started at 6:00AM and walked the complete course with him and I can tell you he was working on all aspects of the game at the practice tees and greens. As many who love golf can tell you, it’s a game that you’re always improving.
Finally, mastery is not always a straight growth curve. Ups and downs are not unusual for a person seeking mastery. It is critical to know that the people who obtain personal mastery are very good at mastering the emotions of professional growth, as well. One of the unique lessons I’ve learned from my high performing teams is there is always room for improvement. Collecting feedback and continued skills and practice set you on your way. I look forward to watching you achieve mastery. See you next week.