I recently ran a workshop in which several guests came in to speak. Each one of them spoke about subjects they were experts on. It was stunning – simply wonderful to hear people speak so masterfully about their topics.
There was one gentleman who talked to the group about Dale Carnegie and some of the fundamental techniques on treating people well – based on the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Listening to this man give examples of his own life on how he successfully incorporated Carnegie’s principles was like watching Picasso paint a picture. He did it so naturally, so smoothly, it was inspiring.
There is something truly wonderful about watching people do their thing so well.
It led me to this thought:
What do you want to be good at?
What skill would you want to have that would make people look at you and think, “Wow, that person is just masterful at that”?
Shantideva said, “There is nothing that is not made lighter through habit and familiarity.”
If practice can get us good at anything, then what do you truly want to be good at?
Aristotle wrote: “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation.”
Years ago, I made it my goal to have “real-time feelings” – that is, to feel what I am feeling as it happens to me. That was a goal, something I wanted. In college, I noticed people had “emotions” and “feelings.” But I often didn’t know what mine were. Sometimes I’d be insulted, but I wouldn’t realize I felt insulted until a week after the fact. I set a goal to be able to experience my feelings in real-time. And, it’s only taken me, oh, only 20 years to reach that goal. But I did it. Today, I have (pretty much) real-time feelings. I know what I’m feeling when things are happening. I’ve become pretty masterful at knowing what I’m feeling. And this is good.
My new goal is to be masterful at kindness and compassion. I would like people to see me and think, “He is masterful at being kind to others.” I’m still a little snarky around the edges, especially when tired. Nonetheless, I’m working on mastering kindness and compassion.
What do you want to master?
- Do you want to be the best complainer in the world?
- Do you want to be the best critic?
- Do you want to be the most content person you know?
- Or something else?
No matter what you want to master, it will take practice. If you want to be the person who shows the most love, then you’ll have to practice showing love – and, if need be, imperfectly at first .
To get truly good at something, it takes more than just practice. Mastery comes after many failures. It comes from falling down, and getting back up again. We can’t expect success without a few setbacks and persistent practice.
Think about what you want to become. Set out to be that.