miercuri, 4 noiembrie 2009

Mastery - George Leonard

Mastery - George Leonard

a book by aikidoka george leonard. a good book not just for martial artists. recommended for everyone!

ImageIn this book George Leonard describes the concept of "mastery" and explains how to acheive it. Mastery is defined not as a goal to be achieved but as an acceptance, and even enjoyment, of the process of learning and growing in a skill. The journey is much more important than the destination. Leonard states that this focus on the process rather than the end result is counter intuitive to our western, result-oriented culture. He encourages the reader to look past the immediate gratification of results and embrance the times on the plateaus of development.

The first part of the book defines this concept of mastery in much more detail. Leonard explains three character types that often defeat mastery: the Dabbler, the Obsessive, and the Hacker. The Dabbler is one who starts many new things and makes good progress initially. However, once the Dabbler hits the first plateau he gets bored and moves onto the next greatest thing. The Obsessive lives for the growth spurt in a skill. If he's not constantly and actively growing he presses himself harder and faster. Eventually the Obsessive burns out and moves on to something else. Once the Hacker has passed over the first major growth spurt and is on the first plateau he just stays there. He doesn't actively spend time trying to learn and grow. He just tinkers with the bit of skill he's developed and remains satisfied at that level.

The second part of the book explains the main keys to mastery. The first key is instruction. Leonard recommends that to be on the road to mastery the pupil needs an instructor. The second key is practice. Any music student has heard this time and time again. Without practice the instruction is wasted. The third key is surrender. The concept of surrender refers to being willing to fail at attempts to become better. The fourth key is intentionality. This is "keeping your mind in the game" or "your eye on the prize". The idea here is to maintain a clear vision of where you are trying to go (even if you never get there). The final key to mastery is the "edge" or the constant urge to challenge and press the limits. This is what keeps the student from complacency and keeps the student moving forward on the path.

In the third part of the book Leonard offers tools for managing the keys to mastery. In this section he relies heavily on his extensive aikido training and philosophy.

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