In the book titled Master by George Leonard, he discusses why resolutions fail. He describes how homeostasis works; that our bodies become used to certain things. When we introduce a change such as a diet or an exercise program, our bodies want to return to what it knows, for example, the usual amount of food we consumed at each meal. This resistance to change from our bodies causes us to slide backwards in our progress. He says that having a support system helps us get through the resistance to change. He provides ways in which we can increase our drive.
He talks about building energy for the journey toward Mastery. Leonard says that we get energy by using energy. The body is the type of machine that wears our due to lack of use. Therefore, by exercising and using energy, we gain more energy. He listed a few other strategies to increase our energy levels;
- Accentuate the positive things that occur in our lives and also acknowledge the negative.
- Tell the truth always, lies and secrets as poison in our organizations.
- Honor our dark side but don’t indulge in it, for example, letting our anger out just to indulge in it doesn’t help anyone, unless we use our frustrations to bring about positive change.
- Set priorities with daily, weekly and long term to do lists
- Make commitments and take action.
Leonard warns us of pitfalls along the path with the following list:
- Conflicting Way of Life – can your life be lead according to principles of mastery?
- Obsessive Goal Orientation – big goals consist of small victories along the journey
- Poor Instruction – your teacher is not responsible for your good instruction. You are.
- Lack of Competitiveness – winning is important. But winning graciously and losing with equal grace are the characteristics of a master.
- Over Competitiveness – winning at all costs no matter what is not the way of the master. You need to consider how you played the game.
- Laziness – laziness will knock you off your path. Staying on the path is the best cure for laziness and it takes courage.
- Injuries – be aware of your limitations and negotiate with your body when pushing it.
- Drugs – gives the illusion of immediate success but regular use leads to disaster. If you’re on drugs, you are not on the path.
- Prizes and Medals – excessive use of external motivators can slow or even stop your journey to mastery.
- Vanity – be prepared to fall “on your duff”. It’s part of the journey of learning.
- Dead Seriousness – have fun on the journey. Humor lightens the load.
- Inconsistency – consistency is the mark of a master.
- Perfectionism – mastery is not about being perfect. It’s about the process to being the best we can be.
The author tells us that we can “Master the Commonplace”. He uses examples of our daily lives to show that we can achieve mastery in many things depending on how we approach the task. Do we see that task as a chore that must be done, or is it a task that helps us to become better than we are? He says, “Nothing in life is “commonplace”. Nothing is “in between”. The threads that join our every act, our every thought, are infinite. All paths of mastery eventually merge.”
Leonard believes that we should be forever learning and never believe we know everything about a subject. He says that preconceived ideas about what is foolish will old you back. There is no such thing as a stupid question, and we have to do things incorrectly a few times before we get it right. He closes by suggesting that we should always wear our White Belt, the belt of the beginner in martial arts.
Pres Hinckley, in a talk titled, Stand True and Faithful, reminds the youth of the world that they must be true to themselves in matters of personal virtue. He advises them with the following:
- We cannot afford to be tainted by moral sin
- Be true to yourselves and the best you have within you
- Do not become involved in illegal drugs.
- Reach out to help one another.
- Be true to your parents and your heritage
- Look to the Church and its leaders for counsel and direction. The truths of this gospel are everlasting and eternal
- Never to indulge in dirty, sleazy talk of any kind
- Pray always
- In all of living have much of fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.
In his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey described 7 habits that will help us become more effective in everything we do. Categorized the habits as private victories, public victories, and personal renewal.
- The first habit is to be proactive: to actively choose what our response will be in any situation rather than to react blindly.
- The second habit is to begin with the end in mind, meaning, you have to visualize the result of all your efforts.
- The third habit is to prioritize your tasks into categories;
- Important and Urgent Activities – crisis management
- Important But Not Urgent Activities – preventative management
- Not Important But Urgent Activities – only urgent because someone else has that expectation,
- Not Important And Non-Urgent Activities – trivial matters.
- The fourth habit is to think “win/win” which is a mind set and a heart set that is constantly seeking mutual benefit in business and personal transactions. Win/Win-or-No-Deal is the most desirable option especially at the beginning of a business or personal association.
- Habit 5 is to seek first to understand the other person, then to try and be understood yourself. Seeking first to understand is within your own control.
- Habit 6, “Synergize”, suggests that you are opening your mind and heart to new possibilities, new alternatives and new options brought about by the “team” dynamic. You become able to create something entirely new that is better than you ever thought it could be, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Renewal – Taking time to renew ourselves
- Habit 7 is taking time to sharpen the saw, which involves:
- Physical Exercise
- Renewing of the spirit
- Mental stimulation
- Relationships with others
Guy Kawasaki of Garage Technology Ventures, suggests that whatever you build, it should be about fulfilling your passion, and less about money. Your goals should be about changing the world, or making the world a better place. From his own experience, a goal about money is not lofty enough. He advises students to spend more time learning, to study abroad, and not to rush their learning.