I finished reading Mastery by George Leonard. It is a great book with lessons for every aspect of a person's life. Leonard states that mastery is, “The mysterious process during which what is at first difficult becomes progressively easier and more pleasurable through practice.” The main idea is that one needs to be engaged in a goalless endeavor. He writes about his experience in learning aikido. The masters of the martial arts seek to instill in their students the ideals of integrity, humility, and the endless pursuit of improvement. When seen in that light it makes sense to say mastery is without goals.
But Leonard also makes sure the reader understands that as learners we DO need to have goals...the point being once one achieves they must then set a new goal. It's an eternal process and I conclude the sooner we accept that their is no end to learning the better off we will be.
Without this concept in mind people are easily lulled into thinking once I accomplish "this" I can quit. But to quit is akin to agreeing to die.
And how does this relate to being an entrepreneur?
Well in building up a business one must keep up with the times. To become top selling in your niche is great but if you don't keep at it your business will surely fizzle and die.
Integrity and humility also go a long way towards assuring success with repeat customers.
I also liked this quote from Leonard, Mastery is practice. Mastery is staying on the path. Leonard writes, “‘How long will it take me to master Aikido?’ a prospective student asks. ‘How long do you expect to live?’ is the only respectable response.”
The author goes on to point out that practice is both a noun and a verb. In my book report that I wrote this week I said:
We can practice (verb) family harmony through the practice (noun) of family meals.
I then related practice and mastery to the visual imagery below:
Mastery is like hopping from rock to rock across a stream, mastery of life takes us from one plateau to the next, and we should never stop, and yet we should certainly enjoy the view along the way.
I do think we can become complacent and I know that taking the time to stimulate thought and engaging in new activities allows us to continue onward and upward towards greater things . . . and that is what life is really all about.
Week 6 “The first and best victory is to conquer self; to be conquered by self is, of all things, the most shameful and vile.” ~PlatoRead Now
Sadly I failed to write my thoughts for week six. Time and events swept me through the week and suddenly the time was gone. I have been an A student for the past four years (not counting math where I got a B, but that was expected and still a surprise to do so well). But this term in both of my business classes I keep getting erratic grades across the spectrum. It is not that the work is hard either...it is mostly forgetfulness on my part and that sucks.
But this past week we have continued reading Mastery by George Leonard. He has some great insights about what it means to master self. Instruction, Practice, Surrender, Intentionality and The Edge were the titles read this week. Some of those are self explanatory. To surrender means to let go of your own ideas and allow the lesson to unfold in order to really get the message. Intentionality means to enter the arena, or task with a real purpose and goal in mind. The Edge means despite the need for practice and following the rules with precision a person must also push to their limit, to explore the boundaries. To stand on the edge without going over can be good in some things. Of course never as far as morals are concerned.
da Vinci once said: “You will never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself.” Then he goes on to say that “the height of a man’s success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment. … And this law is the expression of eternal justice. He who cannot establish dominion over himself will have no dominion over others.”
Week 5 Success is usually earned by persevering and not becoming discouraged when we encounter challenges. ~ James E. FaustRead Now
The Secret to Entrepreneurial Success: Skill, Character, or Luck? By Jeff Sandefer is an intriguing write up. The question is one to get a person thinking. He proposed the question to a group of highly successful entrepreneurs without getting a response the first couple iterations. I think the reason it took so long to get an answer is because it is so thought provoking. I agree that character is a main driving force. Without the fortitude to persevere anyone can fail even with skill and a great chance to get a foot in the door (i.e. luck).
Another book entitled Mastery by George Leonard addresses the same topic. Leonard asserts anyone can have a talent but it is a determination to see it through that decides whether one is on their way to mastering whatever it is they are pursuing.
Each of the assigned readings and videos this week relate once more to the idea that we are on a journey. Leonard writes about the learning bumps and plateau, and how to love the steady ride while there. Randy Komisar spoke about the need to not become paralyzed when one is not able to achieve what they have designated as their passion. He says, “ . . .rather than thinking about the passion, free yourself up to think about a portfolio of passions and the task is to marry that portfolio of passions to the opportunities in front of you.”
Sometimes the opportunity to go for things are not there. But other opportunities are. We need to remain open to the promptings of our inner voice, or the spirit, if you will. In my case I have always loved art. But for whatever reason I never have taken any formal lessons after high school. I thought it was my passion, but then I began to write and it consumed me. I was able to tell the stories that my art never could convey.
I chose to attend BYU-I through online courses. I was deeply saddened that art was not offered. And then doubly saddened when an English degree was not an option either. Still this was my first opportunity to get an extended education so rather than quit and take a different path I chose to follow through and get my general studies degree. From there I will have another choice to make…I can pursue a creative writing degree from a local college or take specific classes from writers like Dave Farland. Right now taking Dave’s classes sounds much more engaging and to the point.
So far luck has not smiled upon my writing. My skills are growing through perseverance…which is definitely one of my favorite character traits. So yes, I would say in the end all three are components of success…but stubborn stick-to-itiveness trumps all.
Week 4 Each minute is a little thing and yet, with respect to our personal productivity, to manage the minute is the secret of success. ~ Joseph B. WirthlinRead Now
This week’s lesson material was time intensive. Or so it seemed; I read several talks or essays and watched a few videos. The main focus of our week this time was to find our fears and write ways to overcome them. We also defined our core values and wrote a personal constitution. In addition we wrote an essay describing what is in The Ministry of Business by Steve Hitz.
I enjoyed reading the book by Hitz, it is a great resource for helping a person settle into becoming who they want to be, even if they do not want to be an entrepreneur. The main gist of the book though is that by becoming a charitable person of service to the world we can all make the environments that we live in better.
I had a very hard time coming up with fears to list. Yes I am timid as far as coming forth to speak to people and I do of course have a fear of making phone calls. But as far as a fear regarding starting a business I feel no fear. I encouraged my husband to start the business we own. It is a landscaping business that started in 1997 with maybe ten lawns a mower and a truck.
In order to get him to face his fears I wrote up the numbers for him and let him know I would do the books and in general told him we could do this. The first year was tight but for a while there our numbers doubled each year. We were able to employ four or five young men who were able to then go on missions to share the gospel with others. We never managed to grow very large, but we do have sufficient money to live in a log home on 20 acres. Currently we employ two workers who do pretty much everything. Convincing my husband to hire one more worker is now where we are at. If he trained one more guy and gave the running of the business over to his foreman we could then focus attention on our second business which is a BBQ sauce.
As for my own endeavor it requires less than $500 dollars. I intend to be a copy editor for fiction and will publish a small magazine as well as formatting books for CreateSpace and publish if that is what the client wants. This really does not induce fear.
Here is my Code of Conduct:
I will never:
Lie to customers or government agencies
Skimp on quality of service
Neglect to report income
Pay taxes in a timely manner
Deliver the product paid for
Work harder to learn the best accounting practices
My Personal Constitution is much longer so I will not bore you with that, but here are the key concepts formatted in an “I am” phraseology:
I am kind and thoughtful.
I am blessed with artistic talent.
I am engaged in life.
I am well-educated.
I am an entrepreneur with the ability to bless the lives of others.
Week 3 I feel it is good strategy to stand up for the right, even when it is unpopular. Perhaps I should say, especially when it is unpopular ~Ezra Taft BensonRead Now
I had great lesson material this week in my Entrepreneur class, for example:
Frank Levinson's Top 10 Things You Must Have to Start a Business.
1)Spending everything on a good team and equipment
2) Letting people know the company is in business
3) Raising limited capital
4) Taking stock of a company and determining its needs
5) Being open to opportunities
6) Having a supportive family
7) Targeting mass markets, not just niche markets
8) Having confidence in new ideas
9) Acquiring and selling to real customers
10) Choosing a great partner
Sadly I am missing pretty much everything here. I have no team. We are advised to find a mentor too; I am still wondering how to go about doing that since I rarely relate to others.
I will begin to spend more time on Linkedin, I think. I also rely on the advice from my writing group. Number 7 on the list is not something I can do much about since my content editing service is very much a niche market. BUT adding books widens it up. I am considering using affiliate marketing to sell books.
But the main lesson this week concerns integrity. Integrity is one of my favorite values or virtues. Being able to trust and be trusted goes a long way toward building lasting relationships both in our personal lives as well as growing a great relationship between a business and its clientele, or between workers within a business---should I ever get to that point.
In my mind integrity is the foundation upon which all other virtues sit. Without it faith cannot blossom; how can one have faith without trust? When thinking of this characteristic value I always think of a bridge. If the steel or materials of a structure like a bridge lack integrity, it is inevitable that one day that bridge will fall.
In business, integrity is key to building something which others can rely on to provide that which has been promised. I always want to be counted on; to be known as dependable.
“Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.
My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go” (Job 27:4-6).
Week 2 It would be a shame to wander aimlessly through a journey we will all take only once. ~ Jeff SandeferRead Now
My second week of classes: The reading assignments have been enlightening. I copied and pasted so many parts I liked that I have too many and now must choose the ones that really resonate. As part of this week's assignment I must respond to these questions:
Randy had dreams that he actively sought. He trained for and became educated in a field of study that he truly cared about. He happened to be in the right time at the right place and was able to capitalize on situations. It may look like luck, or happenstance but as we are reminded repeatedly . . . there are no coincidences.
Dreaming is the only way any innovation ever comes about. Thinking about it dreaming and visualizing with their double meanings shows how very real God’s influence can be. Through the Holy Spirit many people have indeed been inspired by having actual visions of the very thing they were desiring in order to solve some issue they may have been pondering upon.
When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up my first answer was a mother. I married young at 19 and proceeded to have children for the next 20 years. I have eight children, I accomplished my dream. Had I been unable to have children I would have adopted at least as many…my goal was to have ten. I had thought being a hairdresser would be fun, but as I entered my teens I dropped that and wanted to own an art and crafts store. I cannot achieve this goal now because it is no longer my passion. I do not have the energy to want to count inventory. It does not sound fun at all. Without desire it does not matter how much capital one has, eventually the business will fail…unless placed in competent and capable hands.
As for my reading I liked the basic questions posed by Jeff Sandefer in Stars and Stepping Stones, he asks:
“What is important to you? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? What do you want to have accomplished by the time you are seventy?”
So, obviously, parenthood was number one; but, ask my kids and the question - Why do you get out of bed in the morning? - makes my claim ring false. I trained my children early on to take care of themselves and each other so that only now when I have to take my daughter to her early morning seminary class do I suffer the indignity of getting out of bed before 8 am. Sleep in the morning is important to me as I sit here after midnight writing and cringing knowing I have to rise at 6:30.
Eight years ago I found my passion for writing. I fell asleep with a story in my head, dreamed it all night and woke to write sometimes not even eating breakfast or lunch. I wrote four novels in six weeks.
I love the story world I created and now the thing I want to achieve before I am seventy is to have the series published.
Continuing from the theme offered by Sandefer and highlighted in my previous post he says:
The objective is not to craft a perfect plan—life and circumstances change too much for that. You can, however, chart a course toward a meaningful star, set philosophical guardrails to mark the path, and lay steppingstones to mark each step in the right direction. After all, it would be a shame to wander aimlessly through a journey we will all take only once.
I do love that life is a journey; that we are in our very own quest for actualization to make ourselves and our dreams real. That is why I love writing - it makes the dreams within my head more concrete when I can share them with others.
So as they say - Dare to dream - for it is only in the dreaming that you will ever become the "you" you were meant to be.
Week 1 AH, BUT A MAN’S REACH SHOULD EXCEED HIS GRASP, OR WHAT’S A HEAVEN FOR? ~ ROBERT BROWNING BLAKERead Now
I enjoyed reading a talk by David A. Bednar entitled Your Whole Souls as an Offering Unto Him. www2.byui.edu/Presentations/transcripts/devotionals/1999_01_05_bednar.htm
The Principles of Sacrifice and Consecration were especially poignant to me. He said:
As we live the law of consecration, we are willing not only to offer anything and everything we possess for the sake of the gospel, but we also promise to develop and devote our best selves—our time, talents, and strength—to the building of the kingdom of God on the earth.
Our pledge is: I will give me and all that I can become, and I will live for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The principle of sacrifice is a lesser law preparation for the principle of consecration. Consecration includes and encompasses sacrifice and much more. We are not only willing to offer up our possessions, but we will become the best we can be and assist however possible in building the kingdom in righteous ways.
We will not only die for the gospel, but we will develop ourselves and live for the gospel.
True consecration is motivated by charity and produces an increased desire to serve.
I like being reminded to give my whole self to serving the Lord. The idea that I need to make myself a better person - not because it will make my life better but because I can bless the lives of others is enlightening. It shows a better way to live one's life. I believe were everyone to implement such a strategy then the world would indeed become a better place for all of us.
I found this quote among my reading online this week. I think it pertains well to being an entrepreneur:
It’s not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live. —Marcus Aurelius
I also want to incorporate the idea Jeff Sandefer puts forth about the need to ask more questions. Tapping into the minds of others really does allow for greater creativity than trying to do everything alone. This not only applies to starting and running a business but running a home, fulfilling church responsibilities, being on the school board, or countless committees one might volunteer for.
Sandefer's main conclusion that captured my attention was that life should be lived like a hero's quest. Like a story with all the elements needed to develop the character into a true hero. We are meant to echo the temple pattern or monomyth with our own trials and successes living our very own long journey through life. The hope is that we reach for the stars and find joy along the way.