George Leonard’s “Mastery” Is An Ode To First Chakra


Have you ever bought a “self-help” book on someone’s recommendation and then found it impenetrable and shelved it?  I certainly have.  And then, some time later, I inevitably find my way back to that book when I’m ready to read it. They say, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”  While I don’t know who “they” are, I still tend to agree.  And the same is true for books – when the reader is ready, the book will appear – or re-appear (if it was bought prematurely and then shelved).

My latest example of this is a simple little book entitled, “Mastery: The Keys To Success And Long-Term Fulfillment” by George Leonard.”

I shelved Leonard’s book a while back, finding too simplistic.  That, I suppose was my take on it, because that was my attitude (at that time) on the first chakra as a whole, and “Mastery” might as well be called “Ode To The First Chakra.”

And of course, the main characteristic about the first chakra is that it’s simple.  It’s deceptively simple.  It’s the seed of the tree that is as basic as it comes – and yet contains the entire, juicy complexity of the tree within it.

Even the size (small in dimensions and still only 176 pages long) and color scheme (beige with a simple crimson stripe across the top title) belie its first chakra allegiance.

It’s funny how we tend to avoid exactly what we need for as long as we possibly can.

I’ve spent most of my life running away from my own first chakra and all the qualities it represents – grounding, stability, career, commitment and hard work.

But in the last few years, my chakra work has helped me become more and more aware of my first chakra needs, so I’ve been leaning into these areas of my life.

And now, “Mastery” reads like a masterpiece.  I love every word!

At the beginning of the book, Leonard points out what a quick-fix-sound-bite type of society we are, and you really can’t argue with him.  We have tons of courses and products that claim to change you overnight (or darn near that).

Gone, it would seem, is a proper level of respect for the long and arduous path; the path of the Master.  So I’m pretty excited that I’m starting to find and cultivate that respect.

Early on in the book, Leonard outlines three, anti-mastery personality types, and I’m pretty sure, I’ve spent the majority of my life being a mixture of all three (yikes).  These unsavory characters are:  The Dabbler, The Obsessive & The Hacker.

The Dabbler flits about from one thing to another – loving the high of a new endeavor, but abandoning it as soon as that initial rush is gone.  The Obsessive steps in too deep and takes on too much – not really preparing for the long haul, and inevitably crashing and burning.  And the Hacker, well, I think the name says it all – the Hacker is just happy to get by — barely.

Honestly, I’m far less the Hacker than the Dabbler and the Obsessive, but I have to admit, in areas like computers and technology, I was definitely a Hacker – just getting by with the least amount of knowledge and practice possible.

Which one are you?  Or more likely, what kind of cocktail of these are you?

For Mastery, you need first chakra.   You need steady, long-term commitment to the things you want to do – to the sports you want to play, the relationships you want to make better and the business endeavors you want to succeed.  Whatever it is you are doing, to Master it means to approach it with the sensible, non-reactive, plodding energy of the first chakra.  To fall in love with the practice of it (whatever it is).  To actually enjoy repetition, for the doing of “it” over and over again – especially with an eye for doing it the best we can — creates a deep habit of excellence.

So, what are the dragons you need to slay in order to walk the path of Mastery?

I’ll end here by sharing the 13 Pitfalls Along The Path Of Mastery from Leonard’s book:

1)   Conflicting Way Of Life – beware creating obligations in your life that conflict with your area of Mastery.

2)   Obsessive Goal Orientation – instead, “keep your eye on the path”

3)   Poor Instruction – choose your teachers wisely

4)   Lack Of Competitiveness – value the impetus of competition

5)   Over-competitiveness – realize that competition is not the “end all”

6)   Laziness – the path of Mastery is the antidote to laziness – if you can do it

7)   Injuries – it’s more important to be conscious than cautious

8)   Drugs – he doesn’t mention TV, food, shopping or sex which could all be included here

9)   Prizes & Medals – excessive use of external validation can kill true Mastery

10)  Vanity – A Master must be willing to look foolish on the learning path

11)  Dead seriousness –humor and laughter are necessities for the long journey

12)  Inconsistency – consistency sets an important rhythm that’s key to Mastery

13)  Perfectionism – process has ups and downs – Mastery must allow the downs

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