After reading Ivan R. Misner‘s account of how he reached a level of mastery during a training session with his sensei, it occurred to me that I was not in pursuit of perfection in my many disciplines — I was trying to achieve mastery. The very idea of reaching for mastery gave me a burst of renewed energy. I could hardly wait to share this sudden revelation with my accountability buddy, Cliff Martin, the following day. Cliff is a systems engineer and a physicist, as well as a sensei.
“Mastery takes 10,000 hours,” said Cliff.
“When you hit a plateau the learning seems to stop. It becomes a day-to-day thing that you don’t see on the outside. You see it on the inside.
The plateau is your friend. This does not mean you’re not growing: you just keep moving up in your level.
Mastery is being in love with the plateau.”
Whoa! I knew this conversation was going to catapult to parts unknown so I instantly put him on the speaker phone, grabbed my keyboard and began typing madly, trying to capture his every word.
“The first year is where it’s really exciting, and all of a sudden it stops. You don’t see a big change. It’s what I call the green belt syndrome in the martial arts.
Students start out at a white belt, move onto an orange belt, and then the green belt. I tell my students, ‘I’m not going to learn your name because after you hit green belt you’ll leave.'”
Cliff then started relating the “Green Belt Syndrome” to working and careers. “If you’re working for someone else you can choose to be a technician, continue to grow your skills, and become indispensable to your company or organization.
If you have your own business, what you have to master is being a manger because you can’t do it all. You need to know how to delegate and use other people’s skills. Most managers suck. You have to know how to work with people and how to get the best out of people. And you have to know how to get the best out of yourself.”
Well, that certainly struck a chord. I’ve long struggled to get my business to the next level, but managing people has never been a desire — let along a strong point. If you’ve had success managing people, please share. Wouldn’t it be great to know and love the next plateau?