Path of Mastery Goes Beyond Anxiety & Laziness

Some people get anxious. Some people are lazy.

Both type of people are self-centered.

Falling into anxiety, panic, and worry is an overreaction that things are and/or will be terrible for me. For example, I might be talking to an impressive figure that I want to befriend and get overly cautious and self-conscious about saying the right thing.

Falling into laziness and complacency is not wanting to face reality and choosing to instead live in ignornace as long as possible. It’s putting my head in the sand because I doubt my ability to meet reality and what’s needed. Or, another example, I’m concerned about making a mistake so I would rather not really try so that when and if I fail, I can blame the laziness rather than myself.

As Operations person, my job is often giving feedback to others regarding deviating from the rules or generally performing poorly. Some people can jump into self-shame and panic. Others can jump into laziness and pretend indifference. Most people do both. I definitely do.

But, in both cases, they are both selfish. Both about me.

In most disciplines like chess, meditation, martial arts, painting, science, copywriting, and more, you begin by learning the fundamentals. You begin by learning the forms. You begin by mastering everything that the best masters of the past have done. You master it by copying them, by absorbing their way of seeing things first. It’s only after you have properly mastered what’s already known that you’re trustworthy to do something new, do something different. It’s only through limitation and discipline can you arrive at genunely effective and creative new ways of doing things.

This isn’t how US American society functions. We think that young 20 something year-olds can disrupt entire industries and therefore we shouldn’t have to go through the hard work of actually learning the old ways of doing things. We want to just jump to the end where we’re a child prodigy master. But, what you fail to notice, is that most of those whiz kids like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and so on actually spent the majority of their lives starting as a kid developing and mastering the necessary skills and experience to flourish later on.

And you learn the path of mastery by not being anxious nor lazy. By focusing on the discipline rather than “how I’m doing at this discipline”. By starting each day, each task with the question, “what’s the most important thing needed right now to advance on this path?” That’s very different from our default programming of, “what’s the most comfortable thing to do right now?” or “what do I most want to do right now?”

And it gets super easy when it’s no longer about you. When what you most want to do right now is the same thing as what’s most needed right now.

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