The subtle art of mastery

Jun 5th, 2017 | By | Category: Commentary

Jeff Hough

By Jeff Hough

There are many self-help books available that tell you how to fix what is wrong in your life. The interesting thing about them is that they are all right, yet wrong at the same time.

A wise man once told me that everything works, you just have to do something. Therein lies the rub with the self-help books. They all work, but they need you to do something. For the majority of people, doing something is the impossible part.

For example, I want to lose weight so I start reading internet articles on the latest diet. After reading several hundred articles on nutrition and working out, I decide on a diet. Then I spend the next couple of weeks reading and learning everything there is to know about it so I will do it right.

Before I know it, six months have passed and I have done nothing. Yet, I can tell my friends that I am working on this new diet. I read everything, yet I don’t start. That is a problem. Not starting has killed more great ideas than lawyers and fine print ever could.

A book I read recently caused me to re-examine many things in my life. The book, “The subtle art of not giving a ———_”, (Google it and you will find it) contains a few unconventional truths that gave me pause. One I found fascinating is a made-up law called Manson’s Law of Avoidance.

Manson’s Law of Avoidance simply states that the more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid doing it. Mark Manson, the author of the law, defines it further by saying “if something threatens to change how you view yourself or how you believe yourself to be, the more you will procrastinate ever doing it.”

Changing anything about yourself is painful. Too often we allow ourselves to be defined by the world around us. We do this because defining ourselves the way we want, would be difficult.

I just read an article by one of my favorite bloggers, Penelope Trunk. In the article she details the amount of practice her 11-year-old son put in to prepare for a cello audition at Juilliard. She tells how he practiced a four-minute song for six months to perfect it for the audition.

I thought I understood what deliberate practice was until I read the article. He would spend as much as three hours a day working on that one piece. He would play it fast, he would play it slow. He would focus on a certain section of notes for an hour, trying to get the sound right.

In the end, she made the powerful observation that practice is nothing more than the creation of a system and process of doing something difficult. That makes the process of “becoming” more important than the goal itself. It is through the process that real change occurs. That is where the majority of people fail in their efforts to change. They don’t have a process.

We don’t put processes in place to change ourselves because that would threaten our view of ourselves. It would also threaten our view of our carefully constructed concept of how the world sees us. It is easier to keep our given label, than it is to define ourselves in a more acceptable way.

There is truth in the statement you can do or be anything you want. The trick is to determine what you really value and what pain you are willing to endure to get there.

Like author Jack Canfield says, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” The key is to remember Yoda’s counsel to Luke, “do or do not, there is no try.” The best place to start is to get off the couch and learn the subtle art of not giving a ———_.

Jeff Hough is a business author, blogger and speaker in Pocatello.

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