What is personal mastery? It is an activity that we integrate into our lives. It is a special level of proficiency — both personal and professional. What is that activity we integrate into our lives that creates personal mastery? Learning. It’s not about just acquiring information, it’s about using that information to expand the ability to produce the results we truly want in life.
People with a high level of personal mastery share several basic characteristics:
- They have a sense of purpose that lies behind their vision and goals. In Peter Senge’s book, The Fifth Discipline he says, “For such a person, a vision is a calling rather than simply a good idea.” You see they see “current reality” as an ally, not an enemy. They have learned how to work with change rather than resist it. They are committed to change and feel they are part of a creative process in which they can influence an outcome.
- They live in a continual learning mode. They never “arrive.” It is a process not something you possess. It is a lifelong discipline. They see the journey as the reward. It’s not about acquiring knowledge, it’s about making use of the knowledge. It’s about skillful personal development.
- They know how to practice. Have you every seen salespeople just wing it? Often right? Those who have sales mastery, never wing it. They are prepared, even over prepared. It was once asked of Michael Jordan if he expected a shot he made to go in the basket? He said I expect all my shots to go in! He had mastered the art of practice. He was prepared. He had shot the shot a million times. He had played the shot in his mind over and over. He practiced countless hours until he mastered it. Practice is a discipline. If you are in sales like me if you are going to master sales you must practice customer dialog, you must know your lines to where they roll off your tongue, you must visualize the outcome, you must know any and all objections and your responses, you must know your customer, you must memorize key scripts, you must practice behaviors and tell tale signs of customer content or discontent. In short if you are to master it you must practice it, over and over and over again.
- They choose the path of greatest gain. Those who have personal mastery choose challenging paths not because they are hard, but because they have the most to gain there. They are interested in being remarkable. Not status quo. They choose goals that move them in a direction of value, not based on which is easier but which will gain the greatest success.
- They are not comfortable with being comfortable. Many salespeople get caught with thinking they’ve arrived and that they’re good. They become complacent and that is the death of most salespeople. Mastery people thrive on being the best. They create new ideas, new methods, new strategies for achieving anything. They are interested in using their knowledge for the betterment of others. They are committed to the discipline of creation.
Are you on the path to personal mastery?
I recall attending a Todd Duncan Sales Mastery Conference in Denver, Colorado back in 1999. It was an event that changed my life. I remember most vividly the closing of the conference. Todd Duncan with lights drawn dim spoke as if he was speaking personally to me. There were about 550 people who attended this 5-day conference and who paid about $4,000 to attend. Todd said as he closed the conference that in a few days half of the people in that room were going to forget what they had learned. Then there is going to be the majority of the other half that will lose their zeal and passion for what they had learned in the following 30 days. But he said, there are one or two of you in this room that this going to burn in your belly and you will leave here today with a purpose to change your life. You will go home and you will take what you’ve learned and perfect it in your life and you will achieve dreams beyond your wildest imagination. I literally wanted to raise my hand and say Todd that is me! I left that conference elated and committed to a new way of doing business and life. I couldn’t imagine anyone not feeling the same.
To this day I point back to that conference as the catalyst for a new beginning. A beginning of mastery. I would study harder than my competitor, I would invest more in my business and life than my co-worker, I would practice and practice and practice until I gave a world class presentation, I would determine to know everything I could about my “main event”, I determined I would hire an assistant and delegate all the low payoff activities, I committed myself to be regarded as one of the best. Today, I have not arrived, I’m still in process. My goals and dreams are vivid and I am enthused about my progress. Perfect? No. But nonetheless growing and becoming. I encourage you to take this difficult path that only a few are willing to pay the price.
Are you the one or two reading this that are willing to pay that price?