Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment

Category: Buddhism
Author: George Leonard
This Month Hacker News 1


by tsumnia   2019-12-30
> Has anyone had success with particular workouts or strategies to keep motivated?

Not to knock you, but this sentence is where I think the issue is - at some point motivation drops off and you need what I like to label as "discipline" to progress further.

The best piece of advice I heard was from someone getting awarded their 5th degree black belt in Aikido, something that takes decades to earn [I'm paraphrasing here]: Training is like a marriage. It is great in the beginning because you are learning all these new things and improving, like the honeymoon phase, everything seems to be great. But over time, that feeling will decrease a bit. Sometimes you wonder if its worth it at all. But, like a marriage, training takes effort and even years down the road you still have to work on it. Not just maintaining it, but actually working on it.

I also like a book by George Leonard called "Mastery" [1] that I think I've linked on HN before. In the book, he's taking the position of the instructor to explain types of "student behaviors" he's seen over the years - Dabblers, Obsessives, and Hackers (people who just "show up"). As learners, people will behave like one of these types on their way to becoming masters in an domain. Each student type stressed the same topic - dealing with when improvement "gets hard" and what steps can be done to help curb some of those issues.


by TheHideout   2019-07-12
I also went to graduate school in The Netherlands, studying Space Systems Engineering at TU Delft. The article does a good job at describing what the student life is like there and common pitfalls that will set you back. The ideas are good, and work great for the author, but they are better generalized as "fall in love with the process" [0]. He found ways to fall in love with the process of graduate school, primarily by finding a morning routine that he enjoyed. Just buying the things in the referral links is misguided. It is better to find ways that make YOU enjoy your daily routine more while on the path to mastery (in his case a PhD).


by jkuria   2019-04-18
Good study. The phenomenon is also well documented and explained in George Leonard's book Mastery:

James Clear has a nice summary here:

by tsumnia   2018-11-10
> it's not incumbent on the student or athlete to develop it, it is the sign of a good teacher

Its more a sign of both - the student's willingness to adjust and the teacher's willingness to refine. The reason I say both is that you run into students that have a better chance of picking something up right away (prior experience) and others that do not. The student that does not have that prior experience still needs it in order to be successful. A good instructor knows not to only focus on the people with prior experience and help boost the latter as well.

For example, in martial arts (as I noted elsewhere), you have someone who has prior experience in body coordination, which makes it easier for them to pick up an art (or dance or a sport). A student whose never stepped on to a mat in their life still needs body coordination. While a good instructor should see that and help build that coordination, the student needs to develop motivation and discipline to do these things without the need of someone else. An out of shape student should needs to recognize they need to put in extra work to move up a level - that is something the instructor can only point out.

A great book I use as a backing to my teaching philosophy is Mastery by George Leonard[1]. It categories the different personalities of the student into Dabbler, Obsessive, and Hacker (not in a good way). Dabblers try but quit when things get hard; Obsessives consume everything possible until they start seeing diminished returns; and Hackers just kind of "show up" and steadily maintain/improve. People can be all three for different things but its handling the particular category appropriately that pushes people toward mastery.


by stinkytaco   2018-09-23
I found this approach was leading to depression. My attempt to have "extremely productive hobbies" just made me feel bad about them when they were neglected. It also led me to taking on too many things that interested me (garden, car, reading, tech, and so on). I found that when I quit prioritizing and just did stuff I enjoyed doing without worrying what the long term outcome would be, I was happier. If you've ever read Shop Class as Soulcraft [1] or Mastery (by George Leonard, not the Robert Greene book) [2] you will have some idea of what I mean. I began to pursue things for the sake of pursuing them, not because there was an end goal in site.

I realize that this is a purely personal anecdote and I realize this is not how people get rich, run a triathlon or change the world, but maybe I just can't do those things.

[1]: [2]: