A client of mine just earned a huge new role at his company. His progress really accelerated about five years ago when he changed his old approach.
It was the stuff no one saw him doing that got him there.
He was out of his comfort zone often.
He faced many, many challenges.
He doubted himself regularly.
A few times, he was ready to quit.
More than once his peers got recognition for things he had actually done.
But he kept going, doing the hard work deliberately, daily.
He was (and is) on the mastery path — the often lonely, never-ending road toward excellence. Little by little, others fell away or got distracted while he just got stronger.
Seeing his dedication pay off reminded me of my favorite blog post I wrote in 2015 about people who choose the mastery path.
It points to the side of high performance that makes all the difference, but rarely gets acknowledged.
Maybe this idea is already familiar to you.
If you’re committed to excellence — I mean really committed and practicing — the ideas in the post will probably be familiar and encouraging. Hold onto it for when you hit a bump in the road and need a reminder.
And share it with your friends who are quietly doing the work like you are.
The post is below. I’ll see you out on the mastery path…
There are no traffic jams on the road to mastery.
Look around. When you dedicate yourself to doing brilliant work and being your best, many people you know are going to fall away. They took an earlier exit at “good enough” or “I don’t have time for this.”
Who is Usain Bolt’s or Serena William’s peer? Who can Elon Musk confide in that really gets him?
The further you travel toward mastery, the more empty is the road.
Look around this week. How many others are on this path with you?
But wait a minute…something strange always happens…
Strangely, the achievement of mastery isn’t evenly distributed throughout the world. It exists in concentrated pockets.
Brazil produces an unfair number of soccer stars. Motown produced a disproportionate number of hits. Duke wins too many men’s basketball titles. Tesla produces better cars than is reasonably predictable.
Mastery is a choice, and it starts with a commitment, an attitude. It takes just one person to choose it. Others who are “mastery curious” take note, and a few join in. There’s often a leader on hand, a firebrand who may not say much but who is familiar with the route to mastery.
Most people will roll their eyes and opt out. Remember, no traffic jams. But a handful put their heads down and quietly start doing the difficult work.
Why not you?
Why can’t you be the one who starts it all? For your team, for your department, for your company or family? Maybe you already have. Or if someone else has already started, why not be the next to join in?
Either you or your competitor is going to make this commitment to mastery and enjoy disproportionate success. Why not you?
Don’t be impressed by the noise and bravado from some folks. People become champions by doing the hard work when no one else is watching. If someone boasts how hard they’re working, they’re probably not on the mastery path. They’re on the “look at me” path. They’ll eliminate themselves eventually. You just keep going.
The media loves overnight successes. No such thing.
There are overnight flashes in the pan. But the ones who stay at the top longer than five minutes traveled the same path as you for years and years.
Have some faith in the path you’ve chosen and keep doing your good work. Mastery is a choice you make every day.
Head for the open road.