Book Summary


George Leonard

15 Sep, 2022


“Perhaps we'll never know how far the path can go, how much a human being can truly achieve until we realize that the ultimate reward is not a gold medal but the path itself.” - George Leonard

Key Takeaways

If you have to take away a few things from this book it would be that the easiest way to master, is to practice for the sake of practice and not focus on the results. Because in this process of mastery there would be a time that you would have no progress and if you have your sights only on the result you would give up midway. But when you remain patient and stick to the path, gaining mastery can help you achieve excellence and have more satisfaction and fulfillment in life. In life we all have dreams and life purposes that we want to follow and achieve. And on this road we will face obstacles and problems. This is when these learnings and takeaways from mastery will help you to focus on what matters and have a stoic mindset.

Big Ideas

Are you a Dabbler, Obsessive or a Hacker?

A dabbler tries many different things, but when the plateau hits he/she gets bored and stops. The obsessive is very focused and result oriented. But when they do not get linear improvements they usually stop. The hacker, on the other hand, improves a lot but then at one point in time they stop casting and do not try to master the skill. There is nothing wrong with being any of them but if you want to master anything you have to learn to stay on the path of mastery.

Learning to Love the Plateau

In your life and even in the learning process there are different phases. Initially in the progress chart, you will grow quickly but then hit a plateau where there would be no progress for a long time. The trick is to stay disciplined and keep practicing until you hit another progress spurt. You need to practice those skills until they become a part of your muscle memory. Once you learn to make those skills automatic you can do them without worrying about them. If you want to fulfill your purpose you have to learn to be patient and keep practicing what you are destined to do.

Practice for the sake of practice itself

Practice is not only something that you do, but it is something that embodies you and defines you. You do not become a master by focusing on the reward. It is the journey that makes you a master. Mastery is the practice itself. Therefore to learn something new or master something you should keep practicing and stay on that path. You do not need to keep any goals for the practice, you should focus on the process of doing it instead. In the end, the more you will love the plateau, the more progress you will make.

Surrendering yourself

A cup cannot be filled if it is already full, therefore to learn something you need to first unlearn. And to do that you need to have a beginner mindset where you are ready to stumble and get back to zero. This means giving up all your ego and surrendering to your master or instructor. Even a master is a learner. They are always learning new things. Experts cultivate that humility and they avoid ostentation.

Intentionality fuels the master’s journey

Great masters and athletes know about the mind-body connection. They know that to achieve anything they need to have a clear picture of it first. And therefore they use it for affirmations and visualizations. There are 2 steps to achieve anything. The first one is to create it in your mind first and then create that into a reality. You need to be able to have a belief that you will achieve it to be able to achieve it.

How this book changed me

Reading and understanding the concept of Mastery changed my mindset when it comes to lifelong learning. While reading the book I could relate to many things I was doing and my thought pattern. But the learnings from the book also helped me to understand how I could nudge them in the right direction and keep growing in my professional and private life. Restructuring my thoughts and mind frame brought more peace and clarity to my life and the everyday decisions that I took.

Who is this book for?

This book is for anyone who is trying to learn something and become better at it. Students, teachers, athletes, artists, and sports persons are the ones who can immediately benefit from it. If you are just starting on a learning path or even a master you can read this book and learn so much more from the author’s immense experience.

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About George Leonard

George Burr Leonard was a former writer and journalist who observed the countercultural tides in the 1960s and dived into them by defining the human potential movement. At 47 he started learning and practicing the martial art of Aikido, in which he went on to achieve a fifth-degree black belt. He used these experiences to develop and sell several self-help programs which anyone could apply to real-life situations.


Isak Vidinghoff is a Strategic Life Coach and Content Creator. He communicates personal development strategies to help people find purpose and meaning to live their fullest potential in life.

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