In order to continue enjoying our site, we ask that you confirm your identity as a human. Thank you very much for your cooperation.
Mastery - A System That Never Fails You
Ten Commitments of Mastery
Visit Our Facebook Page, and click "Like" if you like it!
Personal Mastery is where Mastery starts. We like to say that Mastery™ starts with me, but it's all about "we". Personal Mastery is all about becoming your best person and bringing out the best in others! It will help you in all areas of your life - not just work.
Personal Mastery begins with a self evaluation which starts with the following questions:
What are my values?
What am I trying to accomplish?
How self-directed am I?
How generous am I?
Do I have good habits which support my goals?
Would I keep doing the same things if there were no external pressure to do so?
Applying Personal Mastery
Personal Mastery can be enacted in any environment. How many can you think of that apply to your environment?
Resources For Personal Mastery
Click above to visit our collection of resources that will help you along the journey to Personal Mastery.
Copyright © 2002-2012 The Mastery Institute. All rights reserved. Contact Us.
Download Print version
FactFile # 7
Other readings on EI by The Change Forum
FactFile #3 7
10 Dimensions for EI Teams
FactFile #1 7
Leading with EI
EI at School
EI, Values & Behaviour
Culture, Connectivity & EI
More insights on EI in
Issues #4, #7, #10
You might also be interested to know about
EI Coaching Clinics by The Change Forum
Personal Mastery – putting the ‘me’ in leadership
by Bill Cropper , Director - The Change Forum (not pictured!)
Download PDF version: FactFile-7
Putting the ‘Me’ in Leadership
More and more leaders now connect successful business outcomes with their own level of 'Personal Mastery' – their ability to tune into themselves and be more mindful of the impact their patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving have on the people and situations that surround them as well as the results they get.
Personal Mastery revolves around the idea that leadership starts with you – that no matter what your leadership level, roles or goals, the critical factor to begin with is inside us. The realm of Personal Mastery is largely internal. As we repeatedly point out in our leadership coaching clinics: ‘Before you can lead outwards, you need to look inwards.’
What’s Personal Mastery?
It is perhaps the most elusive of the Disciplines. It’s centrally to do with ‘self-awareness’ – doing inner-work on ourselves and seeing the impact our patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving have on the people and situations around us and the results we get from these encounters.
It’s “the discipline of personal growth and learning” says Senge, but it entails more than just learning new skills. With personal mastery, personal purpose and vision come first – it starts by clarifying what really matters most to us. It’s about creating a desired future and moving toward it.
It also links to ideas associated with personal empowerment, emotional intelligence and self-awareness. It means turning the mirror inwards, where all meaningful leadership work begins. Personal Mastery involves, as Senge says, a “commitment to truth – a relentless willingness to uncover the ways we limit and deceive ourselves”
In our leadership clinics, we map out 7 pathways that empower people to pursue the practice of Personal Mastery. The first 3 – purpose, vision and values – constitute essential cornerstones:
1. Personal Vision: Many leaders have goals but far fewer have a real sense of personal vision: an ability to picture clearly the best leader we can be and work towards that with focus, determination and diligence. Personal vision provides energy and impetus to change. It’s like a point on the horizon you set to guide the path you take. Without it, you wander around aimlessly.
2. Personal Purpose : in many ways precedes Personal Vision. We all crave meaning in our lives. We want to feel our lives matter and know how we make a difference, what our special gifts, talents and contributions are and why we do what you do. Purpose fuels passion. It’s energising.
3. Personal Values , the things that matter most to us, form the foundation for personal vision. Leaders who practise Personal Mastery are guided by, and driven to act out of, a clear set of values in all arenas of their lives. Being clear on values you consciously choose to hold – and changing them if they ill-match – is at the heart of attributes like integrity and authenticity.
The other 4 pathways can be viewed as skill development sets that enable you to realise your personal purpose and vision and live your values.
5. Personal Perception is being aware of the particular ways you tend to perceive things – the frames of reference you use to see other people, events and situations. It’s also about your ‘self-identity’ and ‘self-concept’, which is the source of your ‘self-esteem’ and the degree to which you learn to perceive yourself accurately.
As we focus outwards, another question comes into focus: “Is how I see myself and what I stand for the same as others see me?” This relates to how accurately leaders see themselves, which also extends to how you see other people, events and situations too. Our way of seeing impacts our way of being which links to personal awareness.
6. Personal Awareness is how much you know (or are willing to know) about yourself – what makes you the way you are, your wants, drives, needs, desires and preferences. It’s being able to step back and become an observer of what you’re really like: your patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving; seeing how those patterns impact on others and affect the quality of your interactions; strengthening those that get you good results and changing those that don’t.
What we’re not aware of often controls us. Without knowing themselves, leaders can’t help teams to develop skills to think and work better together, engender a sense of purpose or build positive emotional climates. They also remain unaware of the personal patterns shaping their thoughts, emotions, actions and approach to challenging situations. They blame others and rarely look at their contribution.
7. Personal Transformation is the creative capacity we all have to re-shape, re-new or re-invent ourselves to be more in harmony with our personal vision, values and purpose. The ability to bridge those unavoidable gaps between personal vision and present reality is a key action-element of Personal Mastery.
Back to top
As well as compelling us to be more self-aware of how we think, feel and behave as we approach the world, Personal Mastery is connected to a quality we call ‘mindfulness’ – the ability to see how our thoughts and feelings create much of the reality we experience and how we contribute to the situations that arise around us.
The first step in managing a crisis, improving your situation-analysis approach or handling a difficult discussion is mostly likely a mental one. With mindfulness, we can exercise self-control and make better choices.
Leaders who practise the discipline of Personal Mastery use it as a personal framework to make meaning for themselves and others out of what happens. Personal Mastery is:
So what does a leader with a sound level of personal mastery look like? Here are some of the attributes and practices you might see:
Coaching for Personal Mastery is mainly to do with solo-reflection. This diagram maps out some of the important stages in the process.
Personal vision is the beginning. Picturing the kind of leader we want to be, the results we most want and how to bridge the gaps between our leadership aspirations and current reality.
Self-Awareness comes next. Seeing yourself accurately is an essential foundation. It means:
Evaluation includes feedback because how we see ourselves is only part of the reality. The other part is how we come across to others. One of the hardest things about self-awareness is seeing ourselves as others see us. This means:
Behaviour choices and Changes I make : Being more self-aware of our own behaviour and how it affects others and staying open to hard feedback enables leaders to then make a conscious choice about whether and how to behave differently. This means embracing the choice principle and seeing how I choose, without making excuses.
Positive Action : We now translate personal vision and our behaviour-change choices into positive action. This means being prepared to try out new ways and replace dysfunctional patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving that block us being better leaders. It’s a continual process.
As a concept, Daniel Goleman’s 4 Dimensions of Emotional Intelligence (EI) are closely related to Personal Mastery. Here are some of the links:
1. Personal Vision: As we’ve seen, Personal Mastery is centrally to do with personal vision – how clearly we can picture what we most want to create. Both Senge and Goleman say a personal vision is the start point for this kind of self-work.
3. Choice: Choice, says Senge, is a key guiding principle for Personal Mastery. Goleman points out that as we become more aware of how we generate our own emotional states, we gain more control and begin to see how we can choose our feelings and the behaviour that follows. He sees this as the basis for emotional self-regulation.
4. Team Conversations: Senge’s Discipline of Team Learning revolves around more mindful conversations. Goleman’s 3rd dimension, Social Intelligence, extends EI to teams and he sees conversations as the main arena through where leaders demonstrate their emotional mastery.
5. Solo-Reflection: Both Senge and Goleman point out that the practices of Personal Mastery and EI are mainly conducted through self-reflection and call for deep thinking about how much we know about our patterns, how these impact on behaviour, teams and the way we handle challenges, dilemmas and difficulties.
In many ways, EI fills in some of the bits that seem to be missing from Peter Senge’s coverage of Personal Mastery. Given the close connection between the two ideas, the terms can virtually be used synonymously, so large is the overlap.
It stands to reason, that to become a learning organisation, there must be people at all levels committed to pursuing the Discipline of Personal Mastery. What can organisations do to grow it?
The most important thing is to create a culture that fosters self-management, self-responsibility, self-awareness and choice as key operating principles and allows time for self-reflection and open dialogue. Here are some other ideas:
A commitment to cultivating Personal Mastery as a way of workplace life is long-term. It’s not a program or a one-day workshop.
No-one ever fully masters the Disciplines, but learning-centred leaders practise them persistently, knowing that personal and cultural transformation follow that significantly enhances capacity to make better choices and achieve more of the results they really choose.
This FactFile is derived from our program participant Guide: Personal Mastery: Leading with Emotional Intelligence
copyright © Bill Cropper - The Change Forum 2004-1 4
Sources referred to:
Bradberry, Travis & Greaves, Jean 2009 Emotional Intelligence 2.0 TalentSmart, SanDiego CA
Goleman, Daniel (1996) Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ , Bloomsbury, London
Goleman, Daniel (1998) Working with Emotional Intelligence, Bloomsbury, London
Senge, Peter M. (1990, revised 2006) The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization New York: Doubleday
Senge, Peter M., and others (1994) The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization . New York: Doubleday
Back to top
The Answers Are Within You
Get proven strategies to activate your highest potential.
A Complete Self-Mastery Guide to Breaking Through Resistance So You Can Actualize Your Potential
OVERVIEW: This guide provides a psychological foundation, tips, and resources for walking the path toward self mastery.
Self mastery is often defined as self-control, the ability to exert a strong will against our impulses to steer our future to one of our choosing. But this is only one aspect of the term.
Self mastery requires having a vision for your future self . And harnessing the will to realize that vision.
We learn to master ourselves by getting out of our own way. We strip away what we are not to realize who and what we really are, actualizing our potential in the process.
This guide is designed to assist you on your path. It will point out the pitfalls and offer suggestions to support your efforts in personal development .
Table of Contents
What is Self Mastery?
Self mastery is our destiny, two powerful forces: growth and safety, the delight of growth and the anxiety of safety, the dangers of growth, when safety trumps growth, indications along the road to growth (and safety), what is homeostasis, homeostasis: an illustration, the biology of homeostasis, homeostasis in social environments, the psychological fear of growth, self mastery 101, 1) accept your resistance, 2) create a compelling vision, 3) commit to long-term practice, 4) expect backsliding, 5) live by the principle of moderation, 6) lighten up, 7) set mini goals, 8) cultivate physical energy, 9) be honest, 10) establish empowering rituals, seeking passion and excitement, the rigidity of a fixed mindset, “i know how to do that”, “i’m just a lazy person”, the power of sleep, obstacles to self mastery, craft your plan for personal mastery, a final word for self-actualizers, book recommendations for mastery, explore more personal development guides.
Self mastery is a path, an orientation one chooses to hold toward oneself and the world.
It’s a commitment to never-ending improvement; it’s a process of becoming.
It’s based on the realization that there are parts of us that will always try to hold us back.
Our biggest naysayers aren’t “out there.” They are within us.
Someone committed to this path of self-mastery is willing to find ways to transcend their fear and break through their resistance.
Personal mastery implies that one possesses the self-awareness necessary to identify the source of one’s resistance and the creativity to find ways beyond it.
A common belief about self mastery is that it’s about controlling your basic impulses. This, I believe, leads many people astray.
Self mastery isn’t about controlling yourself or dominating those fearful, aggressive, and nasty parts within us.
It’s about getting to know these parts, but then transcending them.
Resolving these inner tensions, you can find wholeness and allow the natural process of development to take hold.
In Tales of Power , Carlos Castenanda’s teacher Don Juan explains self mastery through the path of the warrior:
A warrior must cultivate the feeling that he has everything needed for the extravagant journey that is his life. What counts for a warrior is being alive. Life in itself is sufficient, self-explanatory and complete. Therefore, one may say without being presumptuous that the experience of experiences is being alive.
As Mas low told his group of doctoral students:
You must want to be a first-class psychologist, meaning the best, the very best you are capable of becoming. If you deliberately plan to be less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you’ll be deeply unhappy for the rest of your life. You will be evading your own capacities, your own possibilities.
Although many of us refuse the call to adventure, developing our innate capacities is our destiny.
Fighting this destiny brings depression and anxiety. Embracing this destiny leads to freedom and fulfillment.
We all have an intrinsic motivation toward growth.
This drive toward growth is easily observable in an infant’s will to master walking, basic motor skills, and language.
But what do we observe in most adults?
In some adults, we find curious individuals who remain committed to developing their brains and bodies, forging new skills for both work and play.
We find self-actualizing people in virtually every field of interest, including business professionals, artists, musicians, philosophers, painters, doctors, psychologists, athletes, and martial artists.
Many adults aren’t committed to continuous growth and development, but many of us are. We simply become consumed by life’s countless demands.
Sometimes, we give ourselves excuses to forego our developmental path. We say things like:
- I don’t have time.
- I’m too tired.
- I’m just not sure what I want .
But is there something else driving us away from growth, blocking our personal evolution?
In Toward a Psychology of Being , Abraham Maslow explains there are two powerful sets of forces within the human condition: a drive for growth and its opposing force, a drive for safety.
Growth propels us forward toward wholeness of Self to discover our uniqueness (what Carl Jung called the individuation process ).
An opposing force leads us to defend our current self, clinging to safety out of fear of the unknown.
The force of safety keeps us where we are now, clinging to the past and afraid to take chances in order to improve our current conditions (internally and externally).
This safety seeking side is afraid of independence, freedom, and separateness—the very things our growth side is demanding.
What we focus on tends to guide the direction of our lives.
If we focus on the dangers of growth, our need for safety wins the day.
But if we minimize the dangers of our emerging uniqueness and fuller expression of the Self while enhancing our attractions toward growth, a world of new possibilities presents itself.
Maslow points out that we are confronted with an ongoing series of choices throughout life between safety and growth, dependence and independence, regression and progression, immaturity and maturity.
In Toward a Psychology of Being , he writes:
We grow forward when the delights of growth and anxieties of safety are greater than the anxieties of growth and the delights of safety.
There is a valid reason to fear growth. In addition to the rewards and gratifications, growth also brings pain.
Each step forward brings us into the unfamiliar, into possible danger.
Each step forward requires us to give up something familiar and satisfying.
Growth can mean a separation, a death and rebirth as well as the grief and mourning that comes with loss of the old.
We grow toward greater complexity. This means when we grow, we might have to give up something easier and simpler.
The path of growth often means taking on more demands and responsibility; it can mean a more difficult life.
Is there any wonder anyone would avoid such a path?
Does this mean we must throw aside our concern for safety in the service of our development? Absolutely not.
Safety is a more basic human need than growth. In the absence of a feeling of safety, the will to grow is not generally present.
Consider, for example, a young child clinging to her mother’s leg while she attempts to walk for the first time.
If the mother abruptly exits the room to answer the phone, the child would likely terminate her herculean effort.
Sometimes, choosing safety is wise and appropriate when it helps us to avoid more pain than we can bear in that moment.
But ultimately, we know that if we consistently choose safety over growth, in the long run, we find ourselves in a state of disappointment.
If we cling to safety for too long, we wake up one day and look back on a life that never was—an unconscious life filled with regrets and missed opportunities.
Moving in the direction of safety, we deny our unique destinies.
How do you know when you’re on the road to growth?
There are numerous subjective indicators:
- You’re more likely to experience feelings of happiness or euphoria, of a zest in living, serenity, joy, and calmness.
- You feel confidence in your ability to handle the inevitable problems along the way and the stresses and anxieties that accompany them.
When the force of safety dominates us, we show signs of self-betrayal and regression and we become fixed and rigid out of fear.
Here, we are consumed by a different set of emotions: anxiety, boredom, despair, inability to enjoy, aimlessness, emptiness, a lack of identity, intrinsic guilt, and intrinsic shame.
Fear and the need for safety won’t go away, nor should they. The drive for safety helps support our survival.
But courage and the need for growth are also part of what it means to be human.
In courageously walking the path of self-mastery, we can realize our true potential and live a uniquely meaningful life.
How Homeostasis Influences Our Growth and Development
We know that most people have a fear of failure. Those who do have a fixed mindset .
In a fixed mindset, failure can evoke emotions of shame, embarrassment, humiliation, frustration, worthlessness, and defeat. It damages an already fragile self-esteem.
But did you know that many of us fear success, too?
The reasons for this one isn’t as obvious. Success can bring a sense of achievement, internal and external rewards, and greater confidence.
It can also bring us a better quality of life and new opportunities.
So why fear success? And why do we often subconsciously self-sabotage our development?
In Mastery , aikido master George Leonard offers a powerful reason: homeostasis .
We fear success for the same fundamental reason we fear failure.
Movement in either direction—up or down—means moving out of the known and into the unknown.
Our internal systems are designed to maintain homeostasis . We are biologically wired to stay in balance, to stay within what is known and comfortable.
Our bodies, brains, and behavior have built-in mechanisms to stay within a narrow range and return to equilibrium when they move outside these narrow limits.
Homeostasis refers to the body’s automatic efforts to maintain a constant, “normal” state.
In our blood stream alone, homeostasis regulates the content of water, salt, sugar, fat, protein, calcium, and oxygen.
What would happen if your blood-sugar level dropped by 10 percent? Big trouble!
All self-regulating systems have ways of maintaining homeostasis and keeping us in familiar and safe territory.
Keeping human beings in a state of homeostasis takes billions of interconnecting electrochemical signals coursing through our brains, nerve fibers, and bloodstream.
To better understand homeostasis, consider your home’s heating system. You set the temperature at, for example, 65 degrees.
When the temperature drops below 65, a signal is sent through the system to kick the heat on until the environment returns to the set temperature.
Homeostasis is a vital function in all self-regulating systems.
The challenge is that homeostasis doesn’t distinguish between “change for the better” and “change for the worse.”
Homeostasis resists all change. In a way, we each have a pre-installed biological mechanism designed to hinder our growth.
For example, let’s say a 40-year-old man named Peter has lived a sedentary lifestyle without any exercise, stretching, or movement for many years.
He knows this isn’t good for his long-term health, and he’s beginning to feel its effects.
Peter decides to go for a light jog in his neighborhood.
He’s proud of himself for taking action, but around the third block, something happens: Peter starts feeling sick and a little dizzy, with a slight sense of panic.
He feels like he’s going to die. Peter stops running and slowly walks home.
“I tried,” he tells himself. “Perhaps I’ll join the gym one day.”
The sensations Peter experienced were homeostatic alarm signals detecting measurable changes in respiration, heart rate, and metabolism. His internal systems were telling him to stop what he is doing immediately.
Remember, homeostasis is designed to maintain your current state . After years of sedentary living, a light jog throws Peter’s internal systems into high alert.
Because Peter didn’t know about homeostasis, he interpreted those signals as a threat.
And unfortunately, he opted out of installing good routines and making beneficial life changes.
If Peter understood the principles of homeostasis, he could have persisted through the discomfort, slowly shifting his “normal state” to a stronger, healthier set point.
Homeostasis isn’t just biological; it operates in social and cultural spheres as well.
Let’s say Peter’s peer group tends to be sedentary. They all avoid physical exercise at all cost.
When he decides to engage in physical activity, his friends will likely exert a social pressure to stop his efforts.
Not only does Peter have to contend with his biological resistance, but he must also overcome the gravity of his social group.
Whenever you adopt a new, empowering behavior, you can experience this downward pressure.
Although you might expect your family or friends to support your new changes, group homeostasis often exerts pressure to maintain old patterns.
This process operates unconsciously, that is, they may not even be aware of their unsupportive behavior.
Despite the best intentions of your loved ones’, those closest to you may try to keep you where you are.
When you grow, you’re different. The homeostasis of your environment, including friends, family, and co-workers, is affected.
Growth can cause pressure and discomfort for others (since they have an unconscious desire for growth, too).
People in your environment may look at you differently. They may admire your changes; your efforts may inspire them.
But a part of them also may envy you and secretly despise you. Your friends and family may prefer the “old” you.
By being aware of these tendencies, you can allow yourself to feel these social pressures without enabling them to influence your behavior.
It can also help you become more compassionate toward yourself and others.
The path of self-mastery, of evolution, creation, and growth, can be a lonely one.
Discovering a great talent within yourself that demands nurturance can be exhilarating, but it can also bring feelings of danger and responsibility.
It may require you to stand alone, cultivating inner strength instead of seeking support from your environment. (Although you can find those that will support your efforts, too, especially if they are on their path to self-mastery.)
Standing strong can feel like a heavy burden, a thankless endeavor we might consider avoiding at all costs.
The path to growth and self-mastery is invariably difficult at times. It’s uncomfortable moving out of the known into the unknown.
Even if the known is not ideal or even desirable, it’s familiar to us. And since all humans have a need for safety, there will always be an attraction to staying within the familiar.
Make peace with homeostasis, but continually challenge yourself to establish higher homeostatic set points.
Honoring your need for safety, courageously guide yourself into the great unknown. Come to enjoy practice for practice’s sake. Transform yourself slowly, steadily, and daily.
Abraham Maslow highlights thirteen characteristics of self-actualization he observed in individuals with positive mental health. They are the markers of those walking the path to self-mastery.
Familiarize yourself with these characteristics so you can self-assess of you’re on the right track today.
See : 13 Characteristics of Self-Actualizing Individuals
No matter what you’re going to learn, you will go through four stages in your development.
When you don’t know what these stages are, at least two of them hijack your development.
If you know what to expect, however, you will reach the final stage of personal mastery.
See : The Four Stages of Learning Anything
Ten Self Mastery Secrets for Achieving Peak Performance
Once you understand the psychological drivers that block our growth, we can turn our attention to ways of overcoming them.
Here are ten self-mastery secrets for breaking through resistance and building momentum on your path to higher self-actualization.
Accept the fact that you have a resistance to positive change. It’s easy to beat ourselves up when we see that we’re standing in our way.
Feelings of shame and guilt, however, only delay our progress because when we feel bad, we tend to reinforce bad habits.
In contrast, self-acceptance and self-compassion allow us to take note of our resistance without judging or criticizing ourselves.
You’re going to need to find ways to negotiate with your resistance to change if you want to stay on the path to self-mastery.
Kelly McGonical’s The Willpower Instinct ( audiobook ) provides an excellent course guide for navigating through your resistance.
A clear vision will serve you in whatever areas you’re seeking growth and improvement.
Without vision, your efforts will be aimless and tend to meander.
Compelling is the operative word; make the vision something you want to move toward, something that inspires you (and not something you just think you should move toward).
Understand that lasting transformation doesn’t happen in a moment; it requires consistent practice.
No matter whether you’re learning a new instrument, practicing communication skills , or meditating , every new skill requires your brain to make new connections and enforce those connections through repeated practice.
Our brains are like a muscle, but as we age, it takes longer and longer to make lasting changes. Repetition through daily practice yields results.
Even when you know about the process of homeostasis, it will still influence you.
Backsliding is inevitable on the path to growth and self-mastery. If you know this, you’ll be less discouraged when you observe it in yourself.
Here again, self-kindness, self-acceptance, and self-compassion will serve your efforts; getting down on yourself will halt your progress.
We often demonstrate lots of enthusiasm and excitement when we begin on our growth path. We see a world of possibilities and positive change at our doorstep.
In these moments of excitement, we often push things too hard, triggering a homeostatic response on a high alert.
Self-mastery is not a sprint; it’s a long-distance run. In Qigong, they teach you to practice with 70% of your capacity. When you push or strain yourself, you induce involuntary tension in your nervous system.
Operating at 70% helps you stay relaxed and engaged while avoiding injury. This same principle will serve you in most areas of your development.
If you take yourself (or the process of growth) too seriously, you’ll invariably derail your efforts.
Your inner animal, or the primitive parts of your brain, will eventually revolt against you, sabotaging your efforts.
So take a light-hearted approach. Be willing to laugh at yourself. Be playful and find ways to make your practice something you enjoy doing (while still accepting the fact that it will bring discomfort at times).
In any path to mastery, you learn to practice for practice’s sake, not to achieve any particular objective.
But while a compelling vision keeps you focused and inspired, mini goals can help you measure your progress.
Your attention shouldn’t be on just achieving these aims; setting mini goals can help you stay engaged in your practice.
No matter what road to mastery you walk, you need a healthy reserve of physical energy to help manage stress, overcome resistance, and follow through.
Our willpower has a kind of fuel tank. It gets depleted when our energy supply runs low.
If you commit to daily practice in the morning, you’ll be more likely to follow through because you have more energy after a good night’s rest.
After a long day of work, our egos get depleted of their mental energy. Practice becomes more difficult.
Conscious effort in cultivating physical energy through proper diet, sleep, exercise, posture, breathing, and stretching will greatly serve you on your path to self-mastery.
Self-assessment is essential for anyone pursuing self-mastery. We invest a tremendous amount of energy lying to others and ourselves.
It’s easy to fall prey to ego inflation (seeing ourselves as bigger than we are) and ego deflations (seeing ourselves as less than we are).
Self-honesty and integrity free up all the energy our egos expend keeping up our house of lies. Start by honing in on your true feelings.
Try keeping a private journal where you can express your hopes, dreams, fears, and other emotions you may not feel comfortable sharing.
All great athletes have rituals for getting into a peak state to perform at their best.
Establishing rituals that you perform at the beginning of your practice sessions can be helpful.
Developing a daily practice is perhaps the most powerful ritual in itself.
Resistance to Self Mastery
The path toward self-mastery would be straight and narrow if it wasn’t for resistance. Resistance takes various forms.
When you understand the source of your resistance, you can navigate around and through it.
Those who achieve personal mastery learn how to avoid extremes.
They don’t seek passion and excitement regarding their development, living in moderation and making steady progress each day.
See : Why You Should Let Your Passion Die
Only with a love of learning and resilience through innumerable plateaus can we actualize our potential.
We truly must believe—with a deep conviction—that we can achieve greatness.
We must know in our hearts that we have the potential to actualize and the will and grace to make it so.
To have this resolve, we must first change your fixed mindset.
See : How to Change Your Fixed Mindset
Another thing that blocks the process of learning and development is the mind’s belief, “I know.”
This single belief stops learning, destroys creativity, and inhibits personal mastery.
See : How to Adopt a Beginner’s Mind to Improve Learning and Creativity
Laziness is something every person wrestles with to varying degrees. When you understand the “voices” behind laziness, you’re more able to navigate through it.
However, if you repress your laziness by trying to deny it and push through it, in the end, your laziness will hijack your personal development and peak performance .
See : An Achiever’s Guide to Overcoming Laziness
Peak performers in virtually any field sleep more, not less, than the rest of us.
It’s virtually impossible to walk the path of self-mastery when you’re worn down, drained, and disinterested. Fatigue creates its own form of resistance.
Getting quality sleep is a MUST for those interested in accessing their potential.
See : Powerful Secrets to Transform Your Sleep So You Can Actualize Your Potential
Our natural state is one of mastery . However, many things pull us out of this state.
After a while, we lose access to the state of mastery. Some people even start to believe it’s impossible to access. Of course, this isn’t true.
Use The Mastery Method to activate your higher potential at will …
What then can we do to promote our continued growth and development?
One reason many of us fail to actualize more of our potential is that we lack a personal development plan .
This plan can be simple. It can fit on a single page. But it must be created with an understanding of human potential so you’re aware of what’s available to you.
See : How to Create a Personal Development Plan
Discovering a great talent, capacity, or strength within yourself that demands nurturance can be exhilarating, but it can also bring feelings of danger and responsibility.
It may demand that you stand alone, cultivating inner strength instead of seeking support from your environment. (Although you can find those that will support your efforts, too, especially if they are on their own path to self-mastery.)
Even if the known is not ideal or even desirable, it’s familiar to us.
And since all humans have a need for safety, there will always be an attraction to staying within the familiar.
Honoring your need for safety, courageously guide yourself into the great unknown. Enjoy practice for practice’s sake.
Transform yourself slowly, steadily, and daily.
Here are recommended books to support your path toward self mastery:
The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
The Ultimate Guide to Achieving Epic Peak Performance in Business and Anything Else
Craft an Inspiring Personal Vision for Your Life RIGHT NOW
How to Architect a Personal Development Plan That Leads to Lasting Personal and Professional Results
10 Best Personal Development Books
What is Personal Mastery – A Look Into Personal Development From a New Perspective
An essential ingredient for super-happiness in life is discovering personal mastery. Personal mastery is something that we all want to achieve, whether we know it or not. It is about our journey towards continuous improvement and seeing life from a different perspective. Personal mastery is guided by principles such as purpose, vision, belief, commitment and knowing oneself. Ultimately, personal mastery is about understanding exactly how you think, why you do things the way you do, having clarity around your purpose and direction in life and taking steps towards continual learning and development to evolve and enhance oneself. It is not something that is achieved overnight, but rather something that each and every one of us strive towards in our journey of life, fostering a more satisfying, successful, happier and fulfilling life.
“Personal mastery goes beyond competence and skills… it means approaching one’s life as a creative work, living life from a creative as opposed to a reactive viewpoint.”
Personal Vision and Purpose Personal mastery is about living a life with purpose and meaning. Personal mastery is about knowing where you want to go and how you’re going to get there, it’s like sailing through the ocean with the confidence and ability to set your compass, read your map and push full throttle until you reach your sacred island with the gold. A life without purpose and meaning is like sailing through the ocean with no direction and hoping that you may find an island that is good for you. Finding your purpose is the epitome of achieving personal mastery.
Loving Oneself Personal mastery is about being able to love yourself for who you are and being able to express yourself in its fullest. When you are realising personal mastery, you are not ashamed to say what you truly think and have full belief in yourself. Personal mastery is about having the confidence to express who you are and love every aspect of it.
Self-Discipline Personal mastery is about being disciplined and being about to commit to your goals and stay on your journey. Your journey of personal mastery may change over time, and that’s ok, but it’s about you setting your journey and not being swept away with the waves.
Proactive Behaviour Personal mastery helps to build proactive behaviour. You are reactive when you do not understand yourself, you do not understand your direction and you do not know where you want to go or how you want to get there. As you take the journey of personal mastery and you start to build your understanding and awareness of these, you will become more proactive and pick up pace towards where it is that you want to go.
Contribution to Others Personal mastery is not just about understand oneself, but also about being able to contribute back to society and to others. It is about understanding how you can best help the lives of others and taking steps towards achieving this.
Positive Attitude Personal mastery is about having the right mental attitude to make decisions and take action in your life. It is about seeing the best in yourself, in others and the world in general. Personal mastery is about converting negative energy into positive energy, shaping your thoughts and thinking positively and powerfully.
Overcoming Fears Personal mastery is about understanding your fears and taking steps to overcome them. It is about being able to reframe your thinking and shaping challenges as opportunities. The journey towards personal mastery takes away the fear, eliminates any self-limiting beliefs you have had in your life and enhances your confidence, leading to a strong sense of self-belief.
Balance in Life Personal mastery is about balancing your life and ensuring you are experiencing and giving everything that is important to you. When you are realising personal mastery, you are more aware of your time and energy and how you are spending that time and energy. Personal mastery helps you to make better decisions on where to spend your time and energy so you can balance your life more effectively.
Achieving Success Personal mastery helps you achieve absolute success in whatever it is that you pursue. When you start to truly understand and behave within the principles of personal mastery, you will start to see your success accelerate. Understanding yourself, knowing what your purpose is, thinking positively and utilising your talents, skills and strengths are sure-fire ways to guide you on your path to personal mastery and ultimately achieve success.
Absolute Happiness Personal mastery is about achieving absolute happiness in life. Happiness is, and ought to be, the ultimate goal of life. Your journey towards personal mastery is about finding what truly makes you happy, and living this out on a daily basis. If you can achieve this, then this is a massive step towards attaining personal mastery.
Ultimately, personal mastery is about creating your own life and driving your own destiny. You are in the drivers seat . You can make any choice you want to. Personal mastery is the journey towards understanding yourself, knowing where you want to go, and continual learning and development to help you achieve absolute happiness, success and life fulfillment.
For the Comments
Where are you on the path to Personal Mastery? Which areas do you feel you have mastered? Which areas have you struggled with? What’s the focus in your life right now for achieving personal mastery?
Start the Happiness!
Free Self-Assessment Tool: The Wheel of Life
Download the self-assessment tool that has kick-started the personal development and success journey helped over 1,000,000 people worldwide .
Enter Your Name and Email and I'll Send it Immediately to You:
About the author
Brendan Baker is Australia's leading personal development blogger and and helps people build and grow online businesses based on their passions. He has created the Launch Your Life Academy and Your First 1000 Subscribers . Connect with Brendan: Twitter , Facebook , Google+
Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked
- Pingback: The Johari Window: How to Build Self-Awareness & Achieve Success - The Start of Happiness
- Pingback: 6 Tips to Build Your Personal Brand and Launch Your Career - The Start of Happiness
Interesting post Brendan. You may be familiar with the 3 big motivators according to Dan Pink (Autonomy, mastery and purpose) See here for excellent presentation http://youtu.be/u6XAPnuFjJc @pclaireaux
- Pingback: The Happiness Model – Why Finding Happiness is Not the Way - The Start of Happiness
Very thought provoking Brendan, out of interest are these all your original thoughts or are you combining a number of things that you read into the blog?
My main constructive point of feedback here is how do you feel as individuals we achieve personal mastery or is it a matter of combining and continually developing the above attributes i.e.absolute happiness, balance in life etc..
Posts are all my own thoughts based on what I have learned, read and practiced over the years.
To me, acheiving Personal Mastery is a continuous journey of self-improvement, but its underpinned by the two key elements of knowing yourself and knowing your purpose. If you can find and understand this, then building on the other attributes helps you achieve what it is you want to do. However, is just achieving your purpose good enough? Its the ‘how’ you go about achieving that throughout life where the other elements of personal mastery fall into place. They are also tools for helping you achieve your purpose. If you can strike the balance and achieve them all, now THAT is a life you want to live!
Get this Free Change Your Life Starter Course
Get instant access to the first four modules of my Change Your Life Course - packed with over 50 pages of guides, exercises, tools, and templates to help you design and start living your best life.
Download your free personal development tool right now, choose your free tool below:.
Choose this if you want to do a quick self-assessment to help you understand how satisfied and balanced you are in the various areas of life.
Choose this if you want to become SUPER productive every day.
Enter your name & email to download the daily planner right away:, enter your name & email to download the wheel of life self-assessment right away:.
Self-Mastery is the ability to recognize, understand, control, and make the most out of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self. It is gained thorough awareness, understanding, and control over your thoughts, emotions, and actions. Essentially, it gives you control over the one thing you can control in any given situation: yourself.
Self-mastery over your own thoughts, emotions, words, and actions can change and transform your life and yourself. When negative thoughts arise, emotions can become unsettled and your resulting actions can have negative consequences. With It will also help you control your emotional impulses and allow you to make decisions based on rational thinking instead of heightened emotions.
The road to self-mastery begins with self-awareness. Self-awareness is having an insightful understanding of your personality, values, tendencies, and beliefs. It is the process of analyzing your thoughts, beliefs, actions, and emotions to help you determine your values and principles. The more you understand yourself, the more control you will have over yourself and your life.
Self-awareness leads to the accumulation of self-knowledge. Self-knowledge identifies what you know about yourself. It is with self-knowledge that you can understand your principles, values, and purpose and are able to apply it to your life. With self-knowledge, you are able to understand your strengths to build upon, as well as identify areas where you may like to make improvements. With self-knowledge, you discover who you are and when you are at our best.
However, one of the problems with awareness and/or knowledge is that it does not require you to take any action. Without action, knowledge and awareness does not lead to change. The good thing is that once you develop your self-awareness and the skills to understand your core beliefs, then changing your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors becomes much easier. Acting on your self-knowledge allows you to reach your fullest potential and to become fulfilled and self-actualized.
- Self Development (action)
Benefits of Self-Mastery
Self-mastery can help you develop habits, beliefs, and attitudes in order to create and live your life to the fullest. When you have developed this mastery, you will have the ability to control yourself in any given situation. You will be able to move easier forward towards your goals with discipline, persistence and focus. You will know your purpose, and you will have the self-confidence and self-discipline needed to do things in a conscious, focused, and purposeful way.
One of the greatest benefits of self-mastery is that it helps you have clarity on what is important to you. It teaches you to live in the present moment and helps you create more room in your life for feelings of gratitude, love, fulfillment, joy, and happiness.
Blog title here
How Resilient and Ready is Your Health?
- High Performance Teams
Get instant feedback by rating the seven elements that make teams high performing, thinking about the normal work team you interact with most often
Four Keys to Personal Mastery & Change
Four keys to personal mastery & change.
If we were able to peer long enough through the fog surrounding leadership, or listen hard enough above the cacophony of noise – at its core – leadership is about change. And at the very heart of leadership is creating and leading meaningful change.
Adaptive Challenges Will Trip You Up
Most of us know from experience however that leading change effectively is rarely a straight-forward undertaking as we navigate the complexity and sometimes murky waters of adaptive challenges. Ron Heifetz at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government first wrote about adaptive challenges nearly three decades ago. He drew the distinction between adaptive challenges – those that keep on keeping on – versus technical challenges where we know how to solve the problem. Examples of adaptive challenges are climate change, recidivism (are we ever not going to need prisons?) and changing the culture of an organisation.
They are the challenges that sometimes create confusion, frustration and sometimes conflict within us. For example, a High Court judge once told me about the dilemma in balancing the needs of the perpetrator, the victim and the community. And how personally tormenting it was looking in to the eyes of the mother of the victim who was pleading for justice – and then looking in to the eyes of the mother of the accused who was pleading for mercy .
…how personally tormenting it was looking in to the eyes of the mother of the victim who was pleading for justice – and then looking in to the eyes of the mother of the accused who was pleading for mercy .
These challenges are non-linear in nature in that our approach often doesn’t create the intended changes. It sometimes feels like we’re riding a wild river, where you attempt to make a correction but it takes you off in a different and unexpected direction! Our measure of success therefore may not be resolution, but just making progress. (For those interested in learning more, I wrote a book entitled Leadership Without Silver Bullets in 2009 (updated last year) which features many adaptive leadership principles, then I wrote about an immersive experience at Harvard in 2010). So adaptive challenges are more about the heart (values, loyalties, priorities) than the head (logical, well-known strategies), but both are important and shouldn’t be neglected.
A Simple Way to Kill a Dinner Party Conversation
I have found from experience that if you want to kill a dinner party conversation, simply mention the words ‘personal mastery’. Most people – sometimes even those who work in organisational development – either (a) don’t know what it is; (b) don’t care or (c) think it all sounds a bit weird.
Most people attribute the term ‘personal mastery’ to Peter Senge, who wrote about it in his 1990 book, The Fifth Discipline. While a little elusive to grasp as a principle, Senge described it as “the discipline of personal growth and learning” , but added that it’s more than just growth and learning. It starts by clarifying what really matters most to us. It’s about creating a desired future and moving toward it.
Introducing the 4C’s of Personal Mastery and Change
In my consulting, coaching and facilitation career, I have worked across almost every imaginable industry at all levels up and down and across organisations. I have worked with leaders who were ‘walking egos’; others who knew no other way to behave except in aggressive or passive defensive ways; and others who were introverted and trying to find their voice in the world. I have also been privileged to have worked with many, many extraordinary leaders who want to make a difference in the lives of people and their communities.
Regardless of which type of leader I have worked with, many continue to struggle to be effective in the core responsibility of their roles – leading change. I need to draw the distinction between what Dean Williams calls ‘counterfeit leadership’ and real leadership, with the former – counterfeit leadership – looking like we’re leading but we really aren’t . Instead, we overlay a technical solution (one we know how to do because it’s usually our default) over an adaptive challenge. There is enormous pressure to deliver in organisations today, so it is no surprise that we sometimes take the easy road rather than the messier, zig-zag road of adaptive leadership.
The 4Cs of Personal Mastery are not meant to be a panacea, but rather seeks to highlight four key areas that can help create meaningful, deep change. It helps create the type of change that brings people along rather than alienates them. It aims to balance the logical with the emotional. It can also help create the type of change that is enduring rather than wallpapering a technical solution over a much deeper problem. It requires a ‘go slow to go fast’ approach, where there are no simple answers . For most challenges, if they were simple to fix someone would have done it a long time ago. These are the types of challenges that will benefit from the approach (see model below).
A Deeper Dive
In theory, you can start anywhere in the model. For example, you may decide that you need to be courageous to highlight a significant issue in your organisation, or you might decide that you need to be compassionate to really understand an individual, team or indeed the challenges and pain-points in an organisation. For the purpose of this article, we’ll start at Connection .
Connection – it is important to be able to connect with ourselves and other people. We need to know what is important both personally and professionally. These questions can help to clarify your thinking:
- What is important (to me, my team / business unit, the organisation, etc.)?
- How strong are my relationships? How trustworthy am I in the eyes of others?
- What is my purpose as a leader / contributor?
- How self-aware am I? When was the last time I asked a broad cross-section of stakeholders for feedback?
- How much personal reflection do I do?
- What do I want for myself? My team? My business unit, etc.?
Commitment – A clear commitment usually starts with a clear intention. A clear intent helps pave the way forward for committed action. One feeds of the other. However, we shouldn’t have blind commitment to achieve the goal however as this doesn’t represent the flexible approach needed to lead change effectively. Yes, we must have tenacity and resilience, but not at the expense of everything else. To understand commitment , reflect on the following:
- What is my intention? Why is this important?
- How committed am I to this course of action?
- How open and committed am I to learning from the experience?
- What are my core values and do I have a sense of conviction about them?
Courage – Courage is acting despite our fears and (perceived) threats. It means understanding how the team or organisational system is working and challenging the status quo. Perhaps Winston Churchill said it well when he said:
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Reflect on the following questions:
- What do I fear will happen if I do ‘x’? What is my evidence to support that belief?
- How much is wanting to be liked getting in the way?
- How might I build my confidence to confront this challenge?
- How vulnerable am I being? Why? Why not?
- Who might I be able to partner with?
- Who can I confide in and use as a sounding board?
- What professional help (e.g. a coach) do I need?
Compassion – Compassion has been variably defined, but the version I connect with the best is Brenee Brown’s where she says, “Compassion is the feeling of wanting to ease the suffering of others. Self-compassion is the feeling and desire that we, ourselves, not suffer.” While the word suffering may sound a little dramatic, it can feel like that in organisations. You may connect better with thinking about alleviating pain or pressure points. Compassion is taking empathy to the next level. In empathy, I can feel what another feels, whereas compassion is feeling it and wanting to do something about it. That’s my interpretation anyway. And in terms of self-compassion, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that most people are their own harshest critics. We all need to practice a little more self-compassion.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What am I feeling in this situation? Why?
- How are other people feeling? Why?
- What will enable me to sit with the pain and discomfort long enough to truly understand it?
- How might I give myself a break?
- What boundaries do I need to communicate so I can be of service to others in this situation? Where have I allowed my boundaries to be weakened?
And So the Cycle Continues…
Once we have demonstrated compassion , we will connect more deeply with those around us, which then enables us to more fully commit to the right course of action. Our levels of courage demonstrated and compassion towards others may need to be amplified as our leadership work ‘levels up’ exponentially. As a result, it is reasonable to expect that as we follow the cycle in an upward motion, we will create more insight, influence and ultimately positive impact .
And one final comment if I may, don’t forget to demonstrate a healthy dose of self-compassion as you navigate the murky and rocky waters of change and experiment with different ways to bring the 4C’s to life.
View more articles like this: The five keys to creating conscious change and restoring wellbeing
Let us help you find what you’re looking for!
Being a values based leader, the importance of preparation in leadership, 4 principles for becoming a more resilient leader, relationship building (the foundation of a high performing team), suggested reading.
Identifying Burnout and the Importance of Prevention to Maintain Performance
The Lasting Impact of Leadership Development
The Leadership Sphere 2022 All rights reserved
- Dare to Lead TM
- Leadership Development
- Executive Coaching
- Self-Paced Learning
- Assessment & Profiling
+61 1300 100 857
Level 2, GPO Building 350 Bourke Street Melbourne Victoria 3000
PO Box 273 Doreen Victoria 3754
Self-assessment provides the opportunity to discover where a person’s true interests, talents, values and abilities lie. Having this information can be essential to determining a satisfying career path. It is also helpful when creating goal...
Self-management is important because it helps a person take control of their physical and mental health, reducing health cost and preventing greater issues in the future. Self-management is used in many fields from psychology to medical fie...
“Self-perception” refers to the way in which people come to understand their own attitudes and beliefs based on their behavior in given situations. It is effectively a model of oneself from the perspective of an outside observer.
Scenario 1. Recently, there was an opportunity to take a training course that focused on a higher level of skills that.
Personal mastery is a set of principles that guides a person through learning, creating a personal vision and being able to see the world in an objective way.
For example, let's say you want to start a computer gaming company. You must first establish your personal vision as it relates to the new start
2. Evaluate your strengths ... Consider your positive qualities or the personal characteristics you have that help you perform well in your role.
Personal Mastery begins with a self evaluation which starts with the following questions: What are my values? What am I trying to accomplish?
Improving focus is also key to self-mastery. For instance, how much time do you waste during your workday? How much time do you spend on the internet, talking
What's Personal Mastery? · Challenging ourselves to be truthful about how we really are. · Self-disclosure – being open to myself about myself first and then
Personal mastery implies that one possesses the self-awareness necessary to identify the source of one's resistance and the creativity to find ways beyond
Understanding Yourself · Personal Vision and Purpose · Loving Oneself · Self-Discipline · Proactive Behaviour · Contribution to Others · Positive Attitude · Overcoming
The road to self-mastery begins with self-awareness. Self-awareness is having an insightful understanding of your personality, values, tendencies, and beliefs.
A Deeper Dive · What do I fear will happen if I do 'x'? · How much is wanting to be liked getting in the way? · How might I build my confidence to