Mastery: The Art of Sticking With Things for the Long Haul

“What are you training right now?”

This might be the most typical query I get requested by my fitness-loving buddies.

My reply is sort of at all times the similar: “I’m training handstands. Yes, still.”

I first began dabbling in handstands again in 2013. I took a number of grownup gymnastics lessons and was instantly hooked. How might one thing so seemingly easy — standing the other way up in your palms — be so laborious in follow?

As a late-blooming athlete, I didn’t do my first push-ups till my early twenties (and my first first rate push-ups years after that). It took me even longer to have the ability to do different fundamental body weight abilities like pull-ups and single leg squats. By the time I enrolled in that gymnastics class, nonetheless, I’d constructed up an affordable quantity of energy and stamina by means of years of HIIT and body weight exercises. Yet my dream of holding a handstand and not using a wall for longer than it takes to snap a photograph for Instagram nonetheless appeared lightyears away.

I pressed my gymnastics teacher for recommendation. He didn’t have a lot, apart from telling me that studying to steadiness in a handstand is extremely troublesome and most of the people won’t ever be taught [[(I only later realized he was a punk kid that barely knew more than I did about handstands) >> I like the humor here, but I’m not sure you need it. If you’re looking to shorten up, I’d cut this part!]]. Luckily, he sensed my enthusiasm and despatched me to Dominik, a former circus performer, and my first actual hand balancing coach. Thus my handstand journey formally started.

Nearly eight years later, I’m nonetheless at it. I surpassed my first objective of holding a five-second freestanding handstand ages in the past. And whereas many individuals would have moved on to the subsequent factor, I didn’t cease. Having prematurely give up most issues in my life up till that time, I needed to see how far I might go as somebody with no pure means or earlier gymnastics expertise.

I had caught the handstand bug. But much more than that, I had caught the mastery bug.

We Can All Aim for Mastery

When most of us suppose of masters, we predict of athletes like Michael Jordan and Laird Hamilton, thinkers like Einstein and Bill Gates. We suppose of black belts, Grandmasters, and different superstars who’ve risen to the high of their craft.

But largely, we predict of these individuals as others — as in, individuals not like us. People blessed with expertise and drive to grow to be masters of their craft and fulfill their potential. (Yes!!)

This is the similar response I had once I was first coaching at circus faculty. I used to be mesmerized by the expertise of these round me. What I didn’t bear in mind was simply how lengthy they’d been working to get to the degree the place they have been at — and the chance that if I labored as laborious as they did for so long as they did, I might get there, too.

Mastery relies upon much less on preliminary expertise than the willingness to select a path and keep on it.

As George Leonard writes in The Way of Aikido: Life Lessons from an American Sensei:

“What we call “mastery” may be outlined as that mysterious course of by means of which what’s at first troublesome and even unattainable turns into straightforward and pleasurable by means of diligent, affected person, long-term follow.”

Choosing a Path and Sticking to It

I’ve needed to give up coaching handstands extra occasions than I can depend over the years. Usually, that is once I’ve been caught on a plateau for an extended whereas or once I understand simply how far I’ve to go to achieve my endless targets.

But I’ve stored at it, as a result of regardless of the countless ups and downs, selecting a path and sticking to it has introduced me an incredible quantity of objective and pleasure. You can guess I’ll be that 80-year-old nonetheless rocking handstands 😉

As my expertise reveals, anybody can get on the path to mastery. Your path won’t be handstands. It may very well be associated to artwork, or music, or one thing else completely. It will inevitably take some experimenting and much of trial and error earlier than you discover one thing that sticks.

Above all else, mastery requires a selection and dedication.

Once you resolve on the path, these 5 keys may also help:

Stop worrying you don’t have sufficient expertise. Sure, some of us begin out extra proficient than others. But focus, persistence, and perception that our efforts will make a distinction (I.e., the hallmark qualities of a progress mindset) matter extra in the future than expertise itself.

Stop worrying about “wasted effort.” Progress isn’t linear, as a lot as we want it to be. Not each motion will lead you straight to the place you need to go. The key to sticking with one thing for the future is to reframe all effort as follow, by no means wasted.

Treat failures as studying alternatives. People at the high of their craft didn’t get that means as a result of they have been afraid of failure. In truth, most profitable individuals solely grew to become profitable as a result of they have been keen to fail time and again. Learn out of your failures, and transfer on.

Keep a newbie’s thoughts. Mastery in any craft requires humility. You can’t get higher in case you assume you already know every little thing. Always be open to studying from others with extra expertise and knowledge than you. Feeling like an ungainly newbie is perhaps uncomfortable, nevertheless it’s price it if you wish to enhance.

Learn to like the path. Progress occurs in small spurts of progress adopted by lengthy plateaus. If you’ve reached a plateau, it could be that your present plateau is precisely the place you have to be proper now as a way to additional internalize your current progress. Learn to belief the course of and settle for that the majority of your time can be spent on the plateau.

“Perhaps we’ll never know how far the path can go, how much a human being can truly achieve, until we realize that the ultimate reward is not a gold medal but the path itself.” — George Leonard


Sign up for Krista’s Movement + Mindset Mastery publication to get your FREE eBook, 5 Keys to Building Mental and Physical Fitness. You’ll additionally obtain weekly bodily and psychological fitness-related content material to assist get you fired up for the week forward.

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