Leaders are able to improve the performance of their organizations when they grasp the concept of mastery. The best definition of mastery I’ve ever heard came from a man who has made mastery a fundamental responsibility of hundreds of thousands of leaders, Dr. Gerald Bell.
In an interesting interview with Guy Kawasaki about his new book, The Dip, marketing guru Seth Godin puts mastery in an interesting context when discussing whether or not to quit or stick with something:
“Mastery is an addiction. Most people never master anything and never experience the thrill of being on the other side of the Dip. As a result, they don’t seek out new opportunities for mastery. I hope that as parents, we can do a better job of teaching kids this habit.”
He’s correct, of course, but I wish he had done more than just skim the surface.
My guess Seth is talking about mastery in the context of a love of improving, of learning, and of pushing through a challenge or problem in order to do as well as is humanly possible — not be perfect — but to strive for excellence without being necessarily derailed by obstacles, disappointment, and so on.
Really effective people are highly focused on mastery for mastery’s sake; that’s why it’s an addiction, a reason unto itself.
Unfortunately, Seth then proceeds to kind of, sort of just breeze by the role of passion in mastery. It’s not the point of his book, I realize, but I wish he would have discussed passion, or love of a job, mission, challenge, etc., as crucial to mastery and, therefore, an important part of pushing through, around, or away from the Dip.