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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Book Review: Mastery, the keys to success and long-term fulfillment

I just finished reading the book, "Mastery, The Keys to Success and Long-term Fulfillment" by George Leonard. George Leonard practices and teaches Aikido, considered to be the most difficult of martial arts to learn and achieve. The beauty of Aikido is the path on which you travel rather than the speed at which you attain the levels or trappings of success in this sport. By interweaving the teaching of Aikido into how you can achieve mastery in your life whether it be marriage, work, or learning he argues you can live a more fulfilled life by appreciating the path you are on.

For the most part this book is a call to forsake the instant gratification and instant achievement society professed by the American popular media and return to the joy of the journey. George argues his point in a short 175 page book broken down into three parts:

- The Master's Journey
- The Five Master Keys
- Tools for Mastery

While I did enjoy this book as a brief read, outside of a couple of quotes there is little that you could take away and apply to your life that would actually produce results. The essence of this book can be summed up with the following quote:

"Those we know as masters are dedicated to the fundamentals of their calling. They are zealots of practice, connoisseurs of the small incremental step. At the same time, and here's the paradox, these people, these masters, are precisely the ones who are likely to challenge previous limits. To take risks for the sake o higher performance and even to become obsessive at times in that pursuit. Clearly, for them the key is not either/or, it's both/and".

Essentially enjoy the periods of plateau, when you feel like nothing is happening in your life, focusing on the simple yet boredom inducing; for the beauty it posses. Your ability to appreciate these periods that will grant you a life of fulfillment.

I enjoyed the book but it left me feeling like I wanted more, but not certain I was willing to make the effort to find the "more" I was looking for. I would say it was like watching a movie trailer and when the trailer finished remarking to those with you, "I am not sure I want to see this movie... maybe I will wait for it to come out on DVD".

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