A Formula For Personal Mastery

“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.” ~ Albert Einstein

In working with my clients, they often express doubt as to the value of what they have to offer anybody, much less for money. They are called to contribute and, even more, know it’s through creating a unique service or product which naturally means through their own business. (Sometimes they don’t know they’re in business, but that’s another story.) The point is that they don’t know or actively cultivate their own mastery.

According to Michael Masterson, there are four levels of proficiency in any valuable skill – incompetence, competence, mastery and virtuosity.

This is also what Malcolm Gladwell says in his best-selling book, The Outliers, where he observes that it takes about 10,000 hours for a person to become the best in his or her field.

When we look at people who have mastered their life art, we see only the results (not the hours of practice). Whether an athlete like Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods, an actor like Angelina Jolie or Robert Downey, Jr, an expert interviewer like Oprah or Barbara Walters, what we see is that they make it look easy.

But you don’t have to achieve that level of celebrity to be a master of your gift.

To master your gift, you need commitment, humility, time and a good teacher. It helps to feel your gift as a calling, a natural resonance with what you know you are to do even if you don’t know how to do it or what that means… because you will figure it out as you go.

In my case, I didn’t know how to be a Catalyst when that was presented to me 14 years ago. People ask me ‘how did you get to be a Catalyst?’ and I tell them that I didn’t really have a choice. I was compelled to follow the energy and swashbuckle my way through time and space and grow myself into it. Back then, being a catalyst was like saying I had a third head (now it’s a job description!).

I had no idea what to do so I did what made sense at the time – I studied what felt right (even if it didn’t feel good in the moment) and I practiced. My natural gift is to translate energy into concepts, words and action; specifically, it’s to help people understand how to shine their light brighter in unique contribution. And I have natural talents to support that – intuition, an ability with words, a healer’s heart. Beyond that, there wasn’t any employer who was going to hire me to do what I am so gifted at doing, so I had to create my own livelihood.

To create a livelihood means knowing your value, being able to articulate it in a meaningful way, put it into a form or package that people can access, marketing it so the people who need and want it can find you, delivering the service and following through on the relationships created as a result. When I started out, I had no idea that meant I had to understand all the facets of business, along with developing and practicing my craft, while trying to make a living for myself.

Now I know the shortcuts, mostly because I took the long way to learn them. At the time I started my business, there weren’t people who specialized in translating esoteric gifts into business success. I had to take the traditional models of business and adapt them. And that’s now part of what I teach. There wasn’t anyone who could help me interpret my true value into a marketable system so I had to flub my way through that; now I know the gift of that experience is that I can now do it easily for others who have unique transformational gifts and want to share them with others.

The point is that there is a formula for mastery. At the risk of being simplistic, in a nutshell, here it is:

Step One: Identify your gift, your soul’s calling, your life purpose (at the very least, a direction in which you feel called to explore).

Step Two: Give yourself a break when you discover that it’s big. Remember that you’re just starting out and find a teacher to start practicing effectively (the more you practice, the greater your mastery but it helps to know what you need to practice and have support in taking care of mental blocks that will come up).

Step Three: Resist the urge to get to a basic level of competence and try to wing it from there. It’s a common mistake but you must continue to actively grow yourself to meet your gift for mastery. That’s the difference between a technician and a master.

Step Four: Trust the process and have fun along the way. If it’s not fun, it’s not natural for you. (And fun doesn’t have to be the big highs; fun can be quiet contentment and celebrating little victories.)

Step Five: Stay open to receive what you need; keep a beginner’s mind to stay fresh even as you gain experience.

Step Six: Claim your mastery as you achieve it.

I remember that I had been practicing Feng Shui professionally (which means for money) for about eight years when someone called me a Feng Shui master. I almost fell over and declined the title, saying that I still had so much to learn. That person proceeded to walk me through what it takes to get to my level of expertise as compared to a journey through our educational system, pointing out that I had ‘graduated’ with my degree several years back. My humility and my beginner’s mind were enmeshed the point where I wasn’t claiming my mastery, and that didn’t serve me (or my clients) either. So there is a balance that you’ll need to find there for yourself.

According to Michael, to rise from competence to mastery, you can expect to put in a total of 5,000 hours of concentrated effort. You can accelerate the pace and compress your learning curve by finding a master to train you.

Once you achieve mastery, you have to decide to pursue being a virtuoso because once you achieve mastery, the real work begins. The way you used to live your life is no longer accessible. You are now responsible for all that you know, and it comes effortlessly to you. But you can no longer be unconscious about your gift and are accountable for how you choose to channel it. It’s not for the faint of heart.

That being said, you may be a natural master and not need 10,000 hours to develop your gift(s). You may be able to quantum leap your mastery.

However, of all the people who are out in the world in your industry, think about who you believe is truly a master of their craft. You know them when you find them. I would say you probably won’t think of many (although the numbers are growing as people claim their authentic power).

If you want to do what you love and make a living at it, there is another mastery growth process that runs concurrently with mastering your gifts. And that is learning how to be a successful business owner. This is the one that is actually less natural and so will take more energy. But if you want to make a living by doing what you love, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to do it without learning how to be a successful business owner.

Again, you can compress your learning curve by working with a teacher or mentor. If I would have been able to find that, it would have accelerated my journey by at least a third (if not by half!).

I do have to give credit to the people I chose to work with along the way, as they gave me the best that they had and helped me create a broad range of tools to pull from in working with my clients now. I hired who I thought would be best to help me and created my experience as I went; now, my intention is to help people who don’t want to choose between making a living and doing what they love. And who want to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible by leveraging my experience for their benefit.

So, you can be very successful by achieving mastery. Learn and live into your life purpose and natural gift with mastery. Get instruction. Practice well. Stay open. Choose whether to share it with the world. If yes, let the world pay you back for your dedication by giving you a fair exchange in the form of money. And put the system in place to make that happen by creating your business.