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Leonard, George; Mastery – The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment, 1992.

George Leonard is a journalist, an educator, an Aikido master and a pioneer in the field of human potential. In Mastery, Leonard draws on Zen philosophy and the martial arts to explore ways that you can achieve excellence and reach your athletic potential.

Mastery, Leonard says, brings rewards but is not a goal so much as a process. A master’s journey can begin any time you decide to learn a new skill, and it will start with baby steps. A teacher may show you how to do something, like hold a tennis racket, but for a long time you’ll feel clumsy and disjointed. Your learning process will continue through extended periods when it feels like you’re making no progress. But mastery will begin when you keep playing anyway, for the sake of the practice itself.

Among the keys to mastery, Leonard says, are:

  • Instruction, including assistance from an accomplished teacher;
  • Practice, meaning not just the verb “to practice,” in order to learn a skill, but also the noun “practice,” meaning an established habit;
  • Surrender, including abandoning your dignity and giving way to your teacher and the discipline of your practice;
  • Intentionality, in which you focus your thoughts, feelings and imaginings on the sport or exercise discipline that is the essence of your practice, and
  • The Edge, in which you ultimately may push yourself beyond safe limits.
The concept of “mastery” may help you to build a new relationship with your exercise program. Beyond that, Leonard’s ideas may be of value in other areas of your life.
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