For me, achieving mastery means having the drive, the self-discipline, and a laser focus on the process of learning every day so that you can excel at something.
And that’s not where it ends. In fact, achieving mastery is more of a lifestyle you adopt when you want to succeed at something that means a lot to you.
It’s not for those who are content with just making it through life, or just having a job, or just passing a college course. Because, let’s face it, that’s the easier path to take.
But it can be a lifestyle for you if you find yourself wanting to learn more, to get better, to improve and become the best version of yourself.
And really, aren’t you curious what that best version of you would look like?
Wouldn’t that be a thrill?
And if you are curious about getting there, mastery is the path to take.
So let’s break it down and see what it takes to achieve it.
ONE. It means you have a specific goal that is driving you to succeed.
When you have a goal you’re working towards, everything you do in your daily life has a greater sense of purpose.
Make sure your goal is specific. For example, don’t just say that you want to get a job, be fit, have a large salary. Instead, say you want to get a job offer for a specific job title that pays a certain annual salary so that you can develop specific skills you have as well as those you’re working towards.
Make sure you are focused on your goal. You can increase your focus by starting each day with the question: What is the ONE THING I am committed to completing today? This question forces you to prioritize, helps your brain focus better, and streamlines the work you need to do on that particular day, so that you don't feel overwhelmed with making too many choices and instead you are free to focus on what’s most important to you.
TWO. It means you need to develop your strategy.
Goals are important, but so is developing your strategy. It’s all about having the big picture in mind: while you are focusing on what you want to do right now, always keep your eye on at least two steps ahead.
Take into consideration different approaches you can take to get you closer to your goal. That means be flexible and don’t always stick to what you’re used to doing to solve a problem.
Don’t only think of achieving short-term success. Being strategic isn’t only what you’re doing right right this very moment; it’s also about feeling the benefits of your present actions in the future.
Don’t focus only on the person you are today. Instead, think of who you want to be in 10 years. By being strategic you will empower yourself to achieve long term results that your future self can benefit from.
THREE. It also means you should master your environment.
In order to be successful at anything, you need to know your surroundings so that you can adapt to them and learn how to master them.
Focus on gaining a firm grasp of the field or industry you want to be successful in. There’s a lot of research you can perform to get to know your target industry. For example, you can research the industry landscape, the major players, the competition, the qualities that are respected in experts, the top rated books in the field, the most relevant websites, and any other resources that can help you understand the subject, industry, or environment.
Follow what successful people are doing in your field. For example, do you know what makes them unique and what are the traits they all have in common? When you identify patterns in behaviors of others, it becomes easier to emulate them and develop those same successful traits in yourself.
FOUR. It requires you to work on developing skills you need to become successful.
You can’t be successful without a required skill set in your field of work, regardless of whether it’s studying for a PhD degree, becoming a software engineer, or training to become an athlete in the Olympics.
First, identify which skills are necessary for you to succeed in doing your job. List them all. Think not just hard skills, but soft skills too.
Second, work on developing your skills. Create a plan to devote a certain amount of time each day to do this, even if you only set aside 15 minutes in the beginning.
Third, keep practicing each skill consistently. Sure, the 10,000 hour rule is something that many people swear by. But again, it’s not all in the numbers. It is, however, about doing your deep work: focusing without interruptions on something that takes a lot of analytical thinking. This deep work is essential in mastering the skills you’ll need.
FIVE. It means offering a unique solution to a problem.
Success isn’t necessarily repeating what other people say or do, even if they’re successful. It’s your unique contribution, your own spin on things, that will make a difference. Answer the following questions so that you gain a better understanding of what can set you apart from others and give you a greater chance at success.
What makes my work good? Is it unique, and how does it set me apart?
Which problem have I solved? Is there a solution I’ve come up with that other people can benefit from? Can I offer any insights, shortcuts, or tips to make their job easier to do?
Where can I improve? What are specific areas where I can get even better at what I do? What’s the next level I need to reach so that I can excel at what I’m doing? What plan can I create and follow through that I can achieve mastery in what is important to me?