Personal Mastery Is Not A ‘Nice To Have’!

“Real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human. Through learning we re-create ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do. Through learning we re-perceive the world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life. There is within each of us a deep hunger for this type of learning.” – Peter Senge

No one achieves deep personal success without having mastery. This is dedication to continuous focus, learning and growth on a personal level.

When we have personal mastery and take ownership of our authority there is certain criteria we must pay attention to.

  • Do you have an honest self-awareness about your strengths and weaknesses, including ignorance and shortcomings.
  • Have you developed strong commitment, motivation, discipline, and persistence to gain knowledge and skills in any given situation.
  • Do you maintain a focus on your calling and keep important goals in sight vs. get distracted and lost in busyness.

Personal mastery requires patience, perseverance and humility. We are a nation hooked on instant gratification but the truth is complex problems do not get solved overnight.

Personal mastery is the life-long pursuit of excellence and a journey to which we neither finish or ‘arrive’.

When you practice personal mastery you are: 

  • Purposeful
  • Secure, and an honest truth-seeker
  • Work with not against change
  • Curious and hungry for better understanding of reality
  • Connected to others but clearly an individual
  • See and accept your part in the “big picture,” and take responsibility for your actions.

To obtain true personal mastery you must become like a martial artist and develop the skills and patience to develop the following:

Personal Vision: Many leaders have goals but far fewer have a real sense of personal vision: an ability to picture clearly the best leader we can be and work towards that with focus, determination and diligence. Personal vision provides energy and impetus to change. It’s like a point on the horizon you set to guide the path you take. Without it, you wander around aimlessly.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor Frankl

Personal purpose is in many ways that which precedes personal vision. We all crave meaning in our lives. We want to feel our lives matter and know how we make a difference. We seek to understand our special gifts, talents and contributions are and why we do what you do. Purpose fuels passion. It’s energizing. It drives us to change.

Vision without purpose is a dream unrealized.

Personal values are the things that matter most to us, and form the foundation for personal vision.

  • Leaders who practice personal mastery are guided by, and driven to act out of, a clear set of values in all arenas of their lives. Being clear on values you consciously choose to hold – and changing them if they are ill-matched – is at the heart of attributes like integrity and authenticity.

Personal alignment is the degree to which our personal vision, purpose, values and behaviors are congruent with each other.

  • When these things match-up closely, huge amounts of positive power and energy can be unleashed. and we find the creative capacity to re-shape and renew ourselves. Leaders who are out-of-touch or out-of-synch with these things, often pursue courses of action that create inner conflict; delimit their power or potential and lead them to adopt adverse behaviors.

Personal awareness is how much you know (or are willing to know) about yourself – what makes you the way you are, your wants, drives, needs, desires and preferences.

  • It’s being able to step back and become an observer of what you’re really like: your patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving; seeing how those patterns impact others and affect the quality of your interactions; strengthening those that get you good results and changing those that don’t. What we’re not aware of often controls us. Without knowing themselves, leaders can’t help teams to develop skills to think and work better together. When we are misaligned and out of awareness with self, individuals remain unaware of the personal patterns shaping their thoughts, emotions, actions and approach to challenging situations. They blame others and rarely look at their contribution.

The Practice of Personal Mastery

Leaders who practice the discipline of personal mastery use it as a personal framework to make meaning for themselves and others out of what happens.

So what does a leader with a sound level of personal mastery look like? Here are some of the attributes and practices you might see:

  • Dedicated to creating and leading out of a personal vision. They can accurately assess the gap between current reality and this vision too, that propels them forward.
  • They are mindful, present and they practice regular self-reflection and inquiry. They understand their feelings, behaviors, mental models and embrace self-management.
  • They develop ‘thinking literacy’ skills and change mindsets and behavior patterns to achieve greater levels of self-awareness.
  • They ensure clear values and principles inform all aspects of their life and use these to determine decisions and take directions.
  • They have a special sense of purpose and vision that is more of a calling – not just goals.
  • They can step back from a situation, see it from many different angles and make many different connections.
  • They are curious, inquisitive and place a high value on learning as both a way to create change and as an important cultural element.
  • They seek constant feedback on how they come across, accurately assess themselves and are open to changing their patterns.
  • They foster challenging prevailing modes of thinking and display mental agility in terms of seeing mental models and assumptions.
  • They are systems-thinkers – can see bigger pictures, subtle interconnections and also their contribution as a part in a larger system.

The most important thing is to create a clear commitment to self-management, self-responsibility, self-awareness and choice as key operating principles and allow time for self-reflection and open dialogue.

Here are some other ideas:

Encourage challenge and inquiry. In most workplaces, people are rewarded for coming up with solutions within accepted paradigms – not for challenge them.

Identify core beliefs and tacit assumptions in the culture that militate against personal mastery and change them. For example, that self-reflection is self-indulgent; that personal vision is pie-on-the-sky, and that emotional awareness is irrelevant to business’

You are the leader of your life, and as a leader you need to become a model, mentor and coach for personal mastery with those you seek to serve.

When the elements of personal mastery are taken together, there is a clear case for leadership development that is more than just ‘how to lead a team’. Personal mastery influences and guides all aspects of individual development to fulfill true potential and create a life that is fulfilled and enriched by knowing who you are, what’s getting in the way, and gaining insight into the direction you want to go so you can be of service to others in a meaningful way.

If you are interested in learning how to bring this level of personal mastery to your life, please contact me to learn about Transformational Strategies for Success which will launch on September 15th. We are currently taking applications.

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