A true coach can make the difference between masterful or mediocre in your life as well as your craft.
Apprenticeship is by-and-large a dead reality in todays’ world. And I’m not talking about some Trumped up reality show, I’m talking about the real deal. True apprenticeship.
While it might be dead in many circles, the fact remains that all those who achieved greatness in their life have had a coach with which they apprenticed.
Plato had Socrates; Aristotle had Plato. Alexander the Great had Aristotle. Mozart had Leopold; Leonardo da Vinci had Andrea del Verrochio. John Coltrane had Charlie Parker; Michael Jordan had Dean Smith; Tiger Woods had Earl Woods.
I could go on but I think you get the point.
In an age of instant success and fast fame we’ve become a romantic minded culture that has forgotten the price that must be paid for true greatness.
Lose the fear; and embrace the willingness to suffer for your greatness and mastery. Every prize has a price.
This an age of the seduction of shallowness and devastating distraction. Unless you see things clearly you’ll be sucked into either or both.
Read the names of those masters above once again. Each of them invested a minimum of ten years—minimum—in mastering their craft; and each of them sacrificed and paid a tremendous price in doing so.
Tiger Woods’ mentor Earl (also his father) had him begin playing golf when he was two years old. Two. When other young boys were playing with cars and trucks Tiger was playing with a putter and a nine iron.
As he grew older, while others his age were going to movies and dating, Tiger was driving and putting.
At the tender age of twenty-one Tiger was ranked the number one golfer in the world.
“Oh my God! He’s a child prodigy!”
“Oh my God! This kid came out of nowhere!”
Oh my God you’re so wrong!
Do the math.
That was nineteen years of practice and sacrifice to finally rise to World-Class. Nineteen years of apprenticeship and working and practicing away in obscurity.
Be cautious that you desire to be successful too fast, it will hinder your development and your potential mastery.
Whether you know it or not, you’re hardwired for greatness and mastery. Whether you know it or not, you will never be satisfied, much less fulfilled, until you achieve mastery.
The greatest mistake you can make in the initial phases of your apprenticeship is to feel that you have to get a lot of attention or impress people. To show others how much you know. Getting attention is the worst thing that could ever possibly happen to you.
If you must get attention, get attention for your tenacity, openness, and willingness to learn and grow.
Be very careful that you go out with your message too early. It will keep you from your mastery. You may never finish your true work.
The internet and social media is full of ads telling you how to monetize your craft in some way. First of all, if monetization is your goal you’re already setting yourself up to fizzle and fail when it comes to greatness.
Hear me out.
While my message might not be popular to the masses in todays’ mentality, it’s always true and raw and real.
A true craft and mission is meaningful and true irrespective of social acceptance. Please read that again. And again.
I sat with Oprah in her conference room for two hours several years ago. Not in a group. Just me, and Oprah, and her lawyer. Period.
Oprah is the wealthiest and most successful woman in television by far; and I can assure you that Oprah did not accomplish what she’s accomplished for the money. She did it because it was meaningful for her; and it still is.
She took her unique talent and genius, mastered it fully and completely, and the tangible results are the by-product of her mastery.
Are you thinking?
Can you develop mastery without a coach? Yes you can. But it may take you twice as long. Life is short and there’s too much to learn in a short span of time.
A true master, mentor, expert, coach can’t do the work for you, but they can potentially cut your learning curve in half.
Can you develop mastery without an apprenticeship?
Not a snowballs chance in hell.
Dr. Anders Ericssons’ research, which I’ve referenced many times, tell us that we must invest a minimum of 10,000 hours in relentless practice. Additional research states that it’s actually 20,000 hours to mastery.
Rigorous practice is not just something you do to become great.
Rigorous practice is what you do once you are great to become greater.
One thing is absolutely evident in the lives of those who reach Ultimate Performance and mastery, they never stop their rigorous practice.
Because they’re doing it for the love of doing. Not for attention, acceptance or financial reward.
The fact, is that most masters have invested a considerable amount of time doing what they do for free—some even invested a lifetime.
You must be more committed to mastery and greatness
than you are to your own comfort and convenience.
This topic of true apprenticeship is much needed; and it’s an extremely deep subject that I can only begin to address here. Let me just share with you the three distinct phases of a true apprenticeship.
- Riveted Attention and Observation
In this phase you exercise the power of your ears and eyes in rapt attention. If you’re holding the intention of impressing, it’ll be very depressing. You have to be a true apprentice, beginner, neophyte, and you have to devote your attention fully and completely to learning.
Please understand, I’m not talking about following someone blindly or adopting someone in an Eastern guru type fashion. You’re still your own person. But when it comes to learning the craft at hand, you listen and learn. Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut. You’re not the master in this phase. You’re a beginner.
While this may seem self-evident, it’s rarely seen in my experience in today’s world.
Constantly remind yourself of this fact; and check your ego at the door.
I’ve been blessed with several great coaches in my life and I’ve not argued with them—ever. If the time comes when I feel I’ve learned all I can learn, then it’s time for me to move on; and our relationship shifts to peers and friends.
By the way, any mentor or coach worth his or her salt will want his apprentice to someday continue his message and craft beyond him; and to even greater heights.
In the 1990’s Italian neuroscientists found what are now called “mirror neurons” in your brain. The simple definition of mirror neurons tells us that when you hang out and deeply observe a master, or even someone mediocre for that matter, these neurons mirror the neurological firings of the person observed.
Choose your community and connections carefully. They are forming your neurons as well as your results.
The implications here are vast. The thoughts, feelings and actions of your master mentor/coach literally become psychoactive in your brain mind.
- Relentless Practice
In the Riveted Attention and Observation phase your prime objective is to gather information and knowledge. To activate your mirror neurons.
The Relentless Practice phase is Ericssons’ ten thousand to twenty thousand hours. Its Kobe Bryant shooting 800 jump shots every single day between 7AM to 11AM before his team started practice for the 2012 Olympics.
This is the phase that literally separates the warriors from the wimps; those who conquer versus those who quit; and it’s the toughest phase by far.
Every single day until his death at age 67 Leonardo da Vinci told himself first thing in the morning, “Ostinato Rigore.” This translates as “stubborn, relentless practice. Tenacious work.”
Damn I love this!
That’s what made him one of the greatest masters in history.
I’ve adopted this mantra for myself; and it’s written on the top of my Critical Six Action Items <reference 21 Days> for each and every day.
You don’t learn to walk by following rules.
You learn by doing and falling over.
~ Richard Branson
- Experimentation and Wisdom
Whoever coined the phrase “information is power” was incorrect. Information is nothing but a bunch of random data. Information is potential power but it’s not power.
To move closer to power you must organize information into knowledge. To get knowledge you must study, you must specialize, and you must dive deep. But while knowledge is one step closer to power it’s still not power.
Only through putting specialized knowledge into action, big, bold, and consistent will it become experience. Experience over time turns to wisdom. Wisdom is power.
You can’t get power vicariously. You can get knowledge, but not experience and wisdom. This is why a coach is so invaluable as well as a full apprenticeship. But as already stated a coach cannot do it for you.
You have to get yourself in the ring. You have to fight your own battles. You have to consistently act, analyze your results, make adjustments; and then act again; and again.
This is why I believe the advocates of 20,000 hours are actually closer to the truth than those of 10,000. My experience is that 10,000 hours minimum is what it takes to go through phase one and two. Once again, Riveted Attention and Observation; and Relentless Practice.
Then the Experience and Wisdom phase kicks in for another 10,000.
To put this into a manageable context 10,000 hours equates to just under 3 hours per day every single day for 10 years.
Too long to become masterful you may say?
We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.
~ John F. Kennedy
What else are you going to do with the rest of your life?
Stay Awake, Love Life and Be Epic!