Mastery: 5 Unexpected Characteristics You Need

Einsteinguitarplaying“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.” Einstein

When someone demonstrates mastery, they have most certainly achieved extraordinary levels of expertise. But consider Einstein’s wisdom on thinking of mastery as a way of being more than a final destination. Think of it as fluid, not stagnant. 

When I look at the people with whom I have worked and consider masters of their craft, they have the following 5 characteristics in common: 

1. Humility: Unpretentious is the best word to describe what humility is.  Mastery does not happen in a vacuum. It happens when we are fully engaged with the world and continuously learning and honing our knowledge and capability through that synergistic interaction.  When we get to the point where we joyfully devote ourself completely to the idea that there is more to learn about something every day and new people to learn from, we have achieved humility and the chances of mastery are higher. 

2. Curiosity: An insatiable need and capacity to wonder, to inquire and to explore are at the core of curiosity. One cannot be masterful without curiosity. Curiosity leads to exploration; exploration leads to discovery and discovery opens a menu of opportunities from which to focus and become masterful.

3. Intuition: Anyone I’ve ever seen master anything has had the ability to “know” without rational thought. Some call it insight. Some call it hearing the voice of God or the universe. Whatever you call it, it is always right and always leads us where we are suppose to be and puts us in a state of flow but we must trust it!

4. Surrender: Surrender is one of the most misunderstood words in the English language. For the purposes of this blog, it means recognizing and accepting the absolute reality of a situation and then deciding what to do about it. It is an active effort, not passive. It is about gaining control, not giving it up. Mastery requires us to regularly surrender ourselves to the unknown in order to be open to possibilities and expanded capabilities. Creative people often speak of surrendering to their muse. Creativity and innovation emerge in those sacred moments when we are able to surrender our ego (“what will people think”) and discover previously undiscovered possibilities.

5. Confidence: People with confidence have faith in themselves, despite what roadblocks might show up and whether they succeed or fail. Guided by their intuition and fueled by their curiosity, they operate from the inside out. They define life on their terms and don’t measure their success by anyone’s measuring stick but their own. 

As Einstein said, mastery requires more than just our intellect. It demands all of us. Developing these 5 characteristics can help us acquire the strength and the soul that we will need in order to give everything to our chosen causes. 

Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth organizations, individuals wanting to live an extraordinary life and young professionals who are want to find meaning in work and accelerate their career growth .

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