Mastery is a mindset and also a path - Brad Stulberg & Steve Magness
Can you truly master running? Can you master your career? Your life? Mastery and the mastery mindset are paradoxical in that one alludes to absolute control whereas one means continual growth in the hard times and the good. You can never truly master running. Age, genetics, and mortality ensure there will always be someone better than you in one way or another in this sport.
However, you can master you own capabilities and live a fulfilling life with a mastery mindset where you have an internal desire to improve and do the activity for it’s own sake. Some days will be better than others but ultimately you love doing the activity and what truly matters is the journey, not the destination. The process and not the outcome.
In their book, The Passion Paradox, Stulberg & Magness state that the mastery mindset contains six key principles:
Driven from within.
Focus on the process.
Don‘t worry about being the best; worry about being the best at getting better.
Embrace acute failure for chronic gains
Be here now.
These principles lead to harmonious passion and fulfilment. They are great on paper but how can they be applied? This is something I’m working on. It’s looking along the lines of ‘I want to run to the best of my ability and express my fitness and dedication’ rather than ‘I want to finish in the top 3’. Ultimately, we can only control ourselves. This is something I’m focusing on.
Yes, it’s important to set goals - I.e. ‘I want to run under 30 minutes in this 10k race’. However, it is important to separate ‘self’ and ‘ego’ from the activity. This is extremely difficult whether you are an athlete, a business owner, a passionate partner among other things. However, the outcome is the result of the process. Focusing on this is fulfilling in the moment and over time. Being open-minded and constantly evaluating the sacrifices you make for your passion are key. Ultimately, to live a fulfilling life you need to go all in on your passion but be self-aware enough to know the sacrifices and have a coping strategy should something go wrong. Passion evolves over time and so should you. These are all key messages from this book that I’m trying to take on board. Patience, process and self-evaluation in the good times and the bad.
One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful - Sigmund Freud