The Path to Mastery

Earlier this year I reread the book Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

This book details his experiences in Nazi concentration camps and his approach to psychology known as logotherapy.

Logotherapy is defined by as a therapeutic approach that helps people find personal meaning in life.

While in the concentration camps, Dr. Frankl observed the other prisoners and their response to suffering.

Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.

While I don’t agree with everything in the book, there was something that hit me really hard.

Those that lost hope died.

But those that found something to strive for, found something to hope for, lived.

Man doesn’t need balance, but a struggle towards a worthwhile, and freely chosen, goal.

It’s through the struggle that they found meaning and found a reason to continue to live on.

In the same way, when we’re struggling to find direction, we often watch other people go about their lives and think “Well they have it all together, why can’t I get that clarity?”

It’s easy to self-pity and self-sabotage.

By reacting this way, we’re almost assuring we won’t get the success we desire.

It’s only through identifying your “why” and then taking action that you’ll be able to pull yourself out of that rut.

What Frankl saw in them was this deep desire (that can be applied in any area of life) to have a goal… to know their “why.” That desire is in all of us.

But the thing is, we think that the why will just reveal itself. It doesn’t, though.

The why is revealed through action.

Take one step, learn a little something, then iterate and take the next.

It’s through this process that we find our passion and our path.

This desire for meaning, for doing well, is something that actually gets revealed as we get better. That’s because it’s in mastery that we start to find passion.

I like the way Jordan Rayner said it in his book Master of One:

So, how do we get to mastery? We get to mastery through intentional practice.

We do this through:

  • Setting specific goals
  • An intense focus
  • Getting rapid feedback
  • Being comfortable with discomfort

This process refines us.

It reveals what our desires are and then opens up the path for us to chase it.

So, next time you’re struggling and not sure what to do, just take one step. Then another, then another.

As you start down a path, you’ll find just enough clarity for the next step, then the next.

Eventually, you’ll realize you’re way down the path towards your original goal or a new one you found that suites you better.

Happy “hunting” and embrace the process.

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