We’re midway through the Olympics and watching great athletes always makes us reflect on mastery. While this topic has no boundaries we like to use the four Lenses as a framework to focus on different elements of the road to mastery. Whether that is designing your artistic practice regime, your training for an upcoming sporting event or even increasing your productivity at work, this post offers a range of questions to help you reflect on your current path.
Why am I trying to master this activity and how does this shape how I see myself?
Essential to surviving and thriving on the path to mastery is developing a deep understanding of who you are, what drives you and how that impacts your identity. Some essential identity questions surrounding mastery include:
- What is it that I love about this activity and how can I keep that passion burning?
- Is my mindset or how I think about myself setting me up for success? Am I curious, creative and open-minded about where this road is taking me?
- Do I deeply believe in my ability to improve?
- Am I confident enough to take the support and advice of those around me?
- Am I developing my ability to bounce back after the next roadblock? Sacrifice comes hand in hand with success. The courage to persist in the face of disappointment, disadvantage and overwhelming odds is the untold story of every great performance.
- Who is my support crew? Behind every great athlete is a great team. It is up to you to cultivate a community of reciprocal support around you.
- What habits have I created around this activity and are they setting me up for success? One way to think about this is from a SWOT perspective. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where are your areas of opportunity and what threats can you face up to or overcome (self-doubt, conflicting commitments, not enough support, afraid to ask for help, etc)?
What opportunities can I spot and create to leapfrog my progress?
Opportunities for enhanced performance invigorate and leapfrog the path to mastery. For athletes they are often sought out in technology, training methods, psychology, physiology, tactics, leadership and diet to name a few examples. Key to finding the opportunities that will impact you is having a curious mind and open eyes to spot and experiment with new opportunities that cross your path. There is no one right way to do things and finding the path that suits you takes active spotting and picking. Some essential opportunity questions surrounding mastery include:
- What is next on my learning list and how can I get to that information?
- Who are my role models and what can I learn from them?
- What can I learn from someone working in another field/sport?
- What could a coach do for me (technique, inspiration, discipline, support)?
- How could I make myself more coachable?
- In what other areas are my skills and experiences of value? Should I consider making a change to that area?
- The normal training path isn’t working for me, is there another way?
How can I maximise my progress?
Opportunities are not significant if you don’t have the courage to grab them with both hands and the ability to nurture them. Impact is all about working smarter not harder and getting the greatest return from your efforts. Some essential Impact questions surrounding mastery include:
- Do I have the courage to risk giving this 100% (at the expense of other things)?
- Am I willing to take risks in experimenting with my learning or techniques?
- Do I have the time and energy to dedicate to this right now? If not, should I wait till I do or do I need to make the time now?
- Do I regularly evaluate the effectiveness of my approach? Is there a way to celebrate achievements and plan next steps in one weekly exercise?
- How can I practice more deliberately and find more moments of flow?
- If I can make my training more fun will that increase my commitment to it?
Is my current practice/training/work path sustainable and fulfilling?
Humans have limits and while working towards mastery it is likely you push against those boundaries. From injury in sport and music, to overwork and burnout at the office, it is vital to reflect on the sustainability of your practices. No two people have the same notion of ‘balance’ and your ability to recognise when your balance is (and is not) sustainable and fulfilling will keep you in the game for the long haul. Some essential sustainability questions surrounding mastery include:
- Am I feeling fulfilled at the moment?
- Do I give myself the right to rest and to slow down when I need to?
- Do I know when to let go and when to say no?
- What are my signs that I am starting to get into unsustainable territory?
- How many different life roles am I playing at the moment and how is the weight of those roles making me feel? (mother, sister, athlete, worker, friends, volunteer, etc….. all of these add up and can start to tire you out)
- If I spend so much time on one area what does that mean for other areas?
- While at times the notion of perfection is important in mastery, am I taking that idea unnecessarily (and potentially dangerously) into other areas of my life? Am I fun to be with?
- I have a transition coming up. Am I prepared? How can I start to open up other doorways?
Thanks for reading and we would love to hear which of these questions resonate with you on your quest to mastery. We will be back next Tuesday with our weekly exploration of the Lenses in your Life.