A Roadmap to Mastery

The Obsessive hires coaches and makes every conceivable effort to get results. "When he inevitably... finds himself on the plateau, he simply won't accept it." The Obsessive's story ends dramatically when he flames out. "When the fall occurs," my father writes," the Obsessive is likely to get hurt. And so are friends colleagues, stockholders, and lovers."

  1. "The Hacker," the third character, is happy just learning to do something in a mediocre way and never improving. "He's the physician or teacher who doesn't bother going to professional meetings, the tennis player who developed a solid forehand and figures he can make do with a ragged backhand...The Hacker looks at marriage or living together as primarily an economic and domestic institution." The problem with being a hacker is that "when your tennis partner starts improving his or her game and you don't, the game eventually breaks up. The same thing applies to relationships."

  2. "The Master," is different from the Dabbler, the Obsessive and the Hacker because she or he has learned to love "practice primarily for the sake of the practice itself. Rather than being frustrated while on the plateau, you learn to appreciate and enjoy [the plateaus] just as much as you do the upward surges."
  3. You don't have to be a master at everything. A master can be a hacker at something -- let's say you like to strum your guitar every once an awhile -- a dabbler at something else -- you paint your bathroom, don't like the color but leave it, then you try a rock garden in your front yard and it's not great but you leave it, etc. -- an obsessive at something else -- you collected 600 friends on facebook, got overwhelmed and closed your account -- and a master at a few things that are really important to you -- you are a wonderful, caring spouse/partner, and for the past 20 years you've gotten up at four in the morning four days a week to go surfing and are dedicated to your practice of the sport.

    Mastery includes a deep appreciation of being in the moment while practicing a skill. Being present while completely one with your actions produces tremendous life-enhancing benefits, no matter what the activity you are engaging in and no matter what stage of excellence you have obtained. The Bar Method, in my view, is one discipline that can serve as a guidepost to mastery itself. 


Burr Leonard is the founder and creator of The Bar Method. Burr discovered this unique exercise niche in 1981 and immediately fell in love with the technique. She began teaching in 1991, enlisted the assistance of a physical therapist, and has worked for many years to develop The Bar Method into an exercise system that is superlatively effective as well as safe. Burr continues to develop The Bar Method workout while she oversees the training of teachers, the establishment of new Bar Method studios across the country, and the creation of exercise DVDs.  

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