no hurry, no pause.


If you can answer “yes” to the following four “Mastery questions” at the end of every week, you will remain on the path to mastery1:

  1. Am I surrendering to instruction? Allow yourself to be molded by the insights of people who have come before you without any preconceived notions. If you go into an endeavour with a big ego and scoff at best practices, you will never grow. Leonard says, “The courage of a master is measured by his or her willingness to surrender to a teacher… Even those who will some day overthrow conventional ways of thinking or doing need to know what it is they are overthrowing.”
  2. Am I practicing intentionally? The more vividly you imagine yourself executing movements in your next practice, the more enthusiasm you’ll have to practice. Clarity creates energy. Once in practice, be fully present and conscious of your movements. As Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “Pumping a weight one time with full consciousness is worth ten that lack mental awareness.”
  3. Do I love to practice? When you love to practice, you don’t need to worry about consistently practicing because you always make time to practice. Missing an opportunity to practice is like missing a meal. In the words of a master painter in the book who paints in her studio four hours a day, five days a week, “It’s the routine itself that feeds me. If I didn’t do it, I’d be betraying the essential me.”
  4. Am I exploring the edge? You explore the edge in your craft by seeking out resistance and negotiating with it. A master ultra‐marathon runner will explore the edge by staying in a heart rate zone that feels “slightly difficult,” so they give themselves the best chance to finish a race and run a personal best. Just like the master ultra‐marathon runner, seek to stay in a “slightly difficult” zone. Reach that zone by volunteering for performances, routinely taking tests, and putting yourself in competitions where you feel pressure. You’ll know you are exploring the edge if for every two steps forward, you take one step back. Loss and reflection are essential to mastery.


  1. Summary of Mastery by George Leonard↩︎