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  • Writer's pictureKenny Johnson

Mastery, an Infinite Road

Updated: Feb 22, 2021

George Leonard was an American writer, editor, and educator who wrote extensively about education and human potential. He was president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, co-founder of Integral Transformative Practice International. He also served as a United States Army Air Corps pilot, and held a fifth-degree black belt in aikido. In his book "Mastery" he shares this short story.

A prospective Aikido student asks.

"How long will it take me to master Aikido?"

George replied,

"How long do you expect to live? This is the only respectable response."

"Ultimately, practice is the path of mastery. If you stay on it long enough, you’ll find it to be a vivid place, with its ups and downs, is challenges and comforts, its surprises, disappointments, and unconditional joys. You’ll take your share of bumps and bruises while traveling – bruises of the ego as well as of the body, mind and spirit – but it might well turn out to be the most reliable thing in your life. Then, too, it might eventually make you a winner in your chosen field, if that’s what you’re looking for, and then people will refer to you as a master. But that’s not really the point.

What is mastery? At the heart of it, mastery is practice. Mastery is staying on the path."


The world's so called "Masters" have all boiled their success down to the simplicity of focus and consistency. They put in the time. The most famous musicians, painters, and athletes all tell the same truth; expertise comes from keeping their eyes focused on the trail, putting one foot in front of the other. Given a long enough road, veering not left nor right we can accomplish seemly anything. So many of us however choose to exit at the first shiny sign on the offramp, or a promise of a short-cut. Leonard says it takes our entire lives to become Masters, there are no short-cuts here.

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