Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment

by George Leonard



Rating: 6 / 10


The book is easily digested. I had just read Peak, so I didn't think that it brought anything new to the table when I read it. Good for those who knows little about mastery.

  • Instant gratification is hurting both the individual and society.

  • The route to success and fulfillment is in the long term process of mastery.

  • Mastery is a process. It's not a goal or destination. It's a journey.

  • Everyone wants instant success, but that leads us in the wrong direction.

  • "It starts with baby steps."

  • You'll have to love the process. You'll be stuck a lot of the time, seemingly 'not getting anywhere'.

    • Reminds me of this quote by Jacob Riis:
    • "Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before."
  • 'Genius' will get you part of the way, but nowhere if you do not choose the master's journey.

  • Learning really happens in spurts. It's not linear.

    • Why? It takes time for the new information to get into our 'autopilot mode'.
  • Our cognitive and effort systems go into our habitual system and changes it.

  • The three (ineffective) learners:

    • The dabbler: loves getting started. But gives up when resistance comes.
    • The obsessive: always wants to be the best. Redoubles efforts when met with resistance. Eventually crashes and burns.
    • The hacker: Starts, gets good enough, and stops progressing — but continues to 'work'.
    • Don't be one of these.
  • "Every time we spend money, we make a statement about what we value; there's no clearer or more direct indication."

    • So all ads are about value now

      • And all these ads are about instant success — everything has been done for you. It's time for a reward without work.
      • "Endless climax"
  • Even doctors have the issue of instant fixes. We prescribe pills, rather than fixing the underlying cause.

  • We have to learn to love the plateau. We'll spend most of our time there.

    • It's about the process, not the 'end'.
  • Find a teacher. That's the most efficient way to get better.

    • But not the only way. Books, films, tapes, software, etc, also work.
  • Practice. A lot.

  • You'll feel stupid. It's natural.

  • "Body builders and weightlifters testified to the value of intentionality. Arnold Schwarzenegger argued that pumping a weight one time with full consciousness was worth ten without mental awareness."

  • The body craves homeostasis. And it'll do almost anything to get it. Even if it is harmful to continue the way you do. That's why it's hard to change habits and lifestyles. The body pushes back. To overcome this:

    • "Be aware of the way homeostasis works"
    • "Be willing to negotiate with your resistance to change"
    • "Develop a support system"
    • "Follow a regular practice"
    • "Dedicate yourself to lifelong learning"
  • Getting Energy for Mastery

    • "Maintain physical fitness"
    • "Acknowledge the negative and accentuate the positive"
    • "Try telling the truth"
    • "Honor but don't indulge your own dark side"
    • "Set your priorities"
    • "Make commitments. Take action"
    • "Get on the path of mastery and stay on it"

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