I just finished reading "Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment" by George Leonard, as recommended by Bren. This one now goes on my "permanent record" of books to recommend to others (in fact, I bought another copy on the way home last night and gave it to a friend of mine today to help him on his personal quest).
True Masters learn to savor the plateaus because they understand that they are building character and feeding dormant skills that will blossom later.The essence of this book: On the road to Mastery, there are many plateaus where you may become frustrated because you aren't getting any better. True Masters learn to savor the plateaus because they understand that they are building character and feeding dormant skills that will blossom later.
At some point, all the practice pays off and you achieve the next level on your journey toward Mastery. Of course, then next day the Master goes back to practice and begins crossing the next plateau. That's the other thing the Master understands - the journey never ends.
Masters embrace the plateaus, while normal people get sick and tired of practicing without visible results, and often abandon their pursuit.
The other thing that non-Masters often do is choose to accept the status quo and stop improving. Why? Because you typically have to get worse before you can become better. One example Leonard gives is golf:
"If you approached most golfers who consistently score in the 90's, and told them you could help them score in the 80's, they'd be interested. However, if you told the same golfers that the steps they'd need to take would cause their score to go over 100 for the next 12-18 months, most would choose to stay where they were. The Masters would take you up on the offer."
Don't feel like a master? Don't worry - nobody is a master of all things, but most of us have the power to become masters in at least one area of life. For example, you may be a novice in athletics, but a Master facilitator. And I know sometimes I have trouble figuring out whether I'm in a plateau, or if I've picked an area where I'm just not cut out for mastery. How do you tell the difference? That's the challenge.
Find your passion, and ride the wave.
And check out Mastery - see if it makes it to your "permanent record."