Just Chill, Commit to Mastery

Take a minute and do this exercise with me. Go outside of yourself right now. Go five hundred miles away from all the urgency of your present day life. Think about a skill you would like to learn. Something that seems far off. Pick something you haven’t tried yet but that sounds super cool and fun. Imagine yourself after working on that skill for 20 years. Picture yourself truly mastering it, knowing all of its intricacies, performing it with fluency and ease. Visualize yourself really knowing your shit.

For me that would be playing the clarinet. Funny, huh? But I fucking love that shit. When I do this exercise, I can really see myself mastering the skill and it fills me with joy. I see myself playing jazz if I want to, or some classical piece, maybe a cover of a punk rock song, just for the fun of it. I would love that. I’d be the coolest cat on my block in the most dorky way, which fits me just right.

No matter what skill you choose, you can visualize mastery. You can see it. Now imagine what it would take to get there... I bet that in your visualization that mastery does not happen in 6 months. In my mind’s eye I can see myself creating awful noises for quite some time before actually playing a tune. I imagine that if your thing was to master German, in your vision you can see yourself stumbling through words before you can actually write amazingly good emails. By the same token, I bet that if you imagine your teachers for that journey, you don’t see slicky guys selling you fast results or trying to trap you with hard sells and gimicky marketing. In that vision, mastery is a continuous, long, and difficult process of learning. It’s slow and tedious. This is why it’s so rare. (In other words, mastery is what Hollywood movies show in a super fast montage with the subscript “five years later”.)

Nonetheless, I think you should approach your fitness and your nutrition as chasing mastery. It is your fucking body we are talking about. Why would you try to give it a fast, shitty, low quality intervention? Why would you think learning how to properly move your own body and give it the nutrients it needs will happen in 30 days? You deserve the best of the fucking best. You deserve mastery. Stop looking for fast results. Take your time with the fundamentals, give them as much time as they need. Know that you can never be too good at the fundamentals. You cannot be too good at your hand position in the clarinet, or with your pronunciation in German. You cannot be too good at learning how to run properly, just like you cannot be too good at understanding to read your body and what it needs. Give your nutrition and your fitness the best of you as a learner. Be patient, be generous, be curious, and aim always for virtuosity. Just chill, and take your fucking time, you are here for the long run!

Start right now. Pick something very small, something basic of either your nutrition or your training, and commit to mastering it. Go beyond the will and the drive; these are good emotions but are just that--feelings. Design a plan. Then make it smaller and smaller. Then after that plan decide your next actionable step, which might be just asking for help, or analyzing where you are. Easy. Now do that! No matter what, commit to not stopping until you feel you are a true fucking master. Commit to getting back on the horse as soon as you fall off. Commit to not letting your ego make your decisions. Commit to listening more than talking. Commit to observe, assess, and refine. Commit to not seeing mistakes as failures, but as the most necessary and painful teachers you will have. Commit to share what you will learn. Commit to be generous to others with the skills you will master. Commit to yourself. Commit to mastery.