5 Traits of Personal Mastery (1 of 2)

One of the great benefits of my role as publisher and editorial director of SUCCESS magazine is that it gives me almost unfettered access to the most successful achievers in the world. I get to meet and spend time with most anybody you can imagine.

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When I get knee to knee with many of these extraordinary people, my job is to try and decode the DNA of their mindset, philosophies, best practices and success strategies. Most of these unique individuals are the best in the world at what they do. I am there to find out and what they do and what has elevated them above everyone else in their competitive profession.

This could be leading CEOs, revolutionary entrepreneurs, superstar athletes, musicians or entertainers, Olympic champions or people who have overcome terrific challenges to go on and make a big impact on the world.

Over the next couple of posts I will reveal the five traits responsible for the personal mastery of many of the most revered leaders in our society. I will also suggest how you too could master the qualities that can make you the best in the world in your marketplace and in your area of expertise.


Since you are reading this blog there is a great chance you already possess this most critical attribute for personal mastery and that is being a consummate learner.

Those that actually achieve a level of mastery are obsessed with learning, growing and improving.
You probably read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (you have haven’t you?). This is where he repeatedly refers to the 10,000 hour rule as what separates those who end up with great “talent” from everyone else—essentially they just out practice everyone else.

My favorite model, because I relate, of someone who is OCD about constant improvement is the late Steve Jobs. One of my favorite quotes from Jobs is, “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

Jobs mantra around the Apple office was, “There has got to be a better way.” This attitude and discipline to raising the bar of excellence permeated every facet of his team. Every person at Apple was required to continually identify the greatest constraints of the processes over which they were responsible. Then they were expected to constantly have two or three opportunities prioritized for improvement… and you could be asked to report on it during any hallway conversation.

How committed are you, really, to your continual learning, growth and improvement?
Are you listening to instructional and inspirational content continually in

your car, while you walk, run or exercise?
Do you have a short list of the main constraints to achieving your goals and a plan for improvement?
Do each of your team members?

Maybe there is room for improvement in these areas?


They have a compelling vision and a deeply motivating reason ‘WHY’ for wanting to realize that vision.
No question, those who achieve personal mastery are DRIVEN. That drive… that motivation and energy it takes to want to drive yourself through the 10,000 hours of practice and iterative improvement comes from having a vision, a goal and a white-hot burning reason why you want to achieve that goal.

It could be to “make a dent in the universe” by empowering the creative types like Jobs or to “stick up for the little guy against the abusive corporate behemoths” like Branson. Or it could be simply to afford the education for your children you never had access to, or to retire your parents in financial comfort… whatever… it needs to be something that is going to spring you out of bed, drive you passionately throughout the day… through challenges, frustrations, failures and difficulties and tuck you into bed, yearning for morning to come so you can start again.

Like the 16 time Grammy winner producer David Foster said to me, “If you wouldn’t rather be working on your art or your business on Saturday morning instead of laying on the beach, playing golf or tennis, you are probably in the wrong profession.” Or I’d say, you’re going to have a hard time achieving a level of mastery and excellence in your business if you are not absolutely in love with your work and borderline OCD about becoming better at it.

Do you spring out of bed each morning fired up about tackling the problems and opportunities each new day?
Are you excited and energized about your work all day long?
Do you go to bed satisfied with what you accomplished and contributed each day?

If not, why not?



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