Road to mastery

If I ask you which road leads to mastery, your first guess might be rigorous practice!

You can settle for that if you want a monotonous binary answer. But the problem with that answer is that it is often misleading. We omit quite a lot of vital details by limiting our answer to just hard work. That would be like a mutual fund advertisement without the critical disclaimer ‘Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, read all scheme related documents carefully before investing.’

If you think the mutual fund advertisement without that vital disclaimer is fine, go on with your one-line answer. But if you felt like the disclaimer needs to be heard at the end, you need to stick around.

This might be a good time for me to pop out my disclaimer as well. These are not some revolutionary findings you are unheard of. These are the finding that I have come across from others and from my life about how to excel at something.

Table of Content

Why Practise doesn’t make perfect?

If you haven’t heard this phrase, that means you are not from this planet. Because any child born on this planet will be told that hard work is the key to success. We could all achieve greatness if we work hard enough.

They have plenty of examples of how through sheer determination and perseverance, some people created history.

If you did the above activity correctly, then you could see a child’s eyes lid up with dreams. You just gave that child hope.

But when you stop there, what he will do like the rest of us, he will just blindly start working hard for something. He might want to be a musician, an artist, or create the next Facebook. But more often than not he won’t.

Most of the people who read this could relate to this because we have all tried that hard work technique and failed miserably.

So let’s solve this mindboggling mystery. If hard work leads to success, why aren’t all the hardworking people we know of aren’t that successful?

Hard work can’t be the problem, as successful people are hardworking. So the difference lies in how we work hard?

What is the road to Mastery?

This is the part where we sew back the disclaimer that should have been told at the end of our success advice.

Hard work barely means that you are putting in a lot of effort. Our aim is not to put in all the effort. We aim to convert all the effort we put in into results.

These are the key points you should focus on if you want to gain any new skill set or learn anything new.

Plan your learning

Whenever we want to learn something, all we do is to get the first reference material we could get our hands on and then pour in all our effort to get it into our head.

Before we begin any learning journey. Plan your learning.

Break down your aim into small achievable chunks.

Use learning techniques suited for you, whether you are a visual or aural or verbal or physical learner. Find materials and resources that are suited for you and your needs.

This might include

  • Understanding all aspects of the skill
  • Finding the resources most suited to your liking
  • Creating a timeline for your learning steps
  • Create a habit out of it
  • Adding milestones

Finding the sweet spot

Whatever you are learning, you need to find the right balance between being serious about it and yet enjoying the process.

Here is the problem. If you are dead serious about something. There won’t be any fun and hence any motivation to do it. It would feel like a chore and you will most likely put an end to it.

But if you make it all about fun, then your growth won’t be quick as you will fool with yourself or will lack the resolve to continue when the going gets tough.

Try to find your sweet spot between the two.

Be serious about it so that you will put in the effort it requires and make it as fun as possible so that you are motivated to do it.

Getting comfortable with the discomfort

Whenever you learn something, there will be hurdles ahead that you need to tackle.

Learning something new is like plunging yourself into unknown territory. You might stumble for a while, maybe hit something and fall, feel lost and confused. These are not feeling you will enjoy.

Along the way, you will have strengths that give you an edge and weaknesses that hold you back.

There will be tough times that will make you uncomfortable.

If you are resolved to master something, then you need the courage to face discomfort.

The Comfort zone is our enemy. It is a zone where you feel good. It is a zone where there is no growth and only stagnation.

Make sure that you are not settling into your comfort zone.

Pushing your limit is the key to growth. Keep pushing your limits so that you will become comfortable being in that discomfort.

Establishing feedback loop

Practice doesn’t make perfect. It makes it permanent.

So practicing the right technique is progressive and practicing the wrong technique is regressive.

A feedback loop is your reality check. A compass that tells you that your steps are in the right direction.

A feedback loop keeps you from going astray. The shorter your feedback loops, the shorter you need to walk back if you walk in the wrong direction.

Your feedback loop can be anything at your disposal. It could be your friends, a mentor, a tool. Anything that you can use to reaffirm that you are on the right track.

Just like software takes a lot of updates to refine itself. The feedback loop is your refinement process as well.

You alone will not identify all the flaws in something. You need someone else to point it out for you. That is the relevance of a feedback loop.

When planing your learning, make sure you have a feedback loop and make sure that it is short as possible.

Test yourself

The feedback loop is for your refinement. Testing yourself is for gauging your progress.

Testing is the only way to assure that there is progress and that you are reaching your objectives. You need to test yourself to ensure that you are making progress and that you are sticking to your plan.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.

Richard Feynman

Testing is the way you figure out what is your strength and what is your weakness.

Find a coach

If you are too lazy to do any of the above steps, then this is the only option for you. This also means that if you will do all the above steps, you don’t need this step.

A coach or a trainer is there to do all the above work for you. All you have to do is trust him and follow his lead.

They will create a plan well suited for you, make sure that you are sticking to it, make it enjoyable and fruitful so that you will continue their service. They will give you instant feedback and very accurately evaluate your progress.

Even if you can do it all by yourself. There is an additional benefit of having a trainer. No matter how much we argue, he is the pro and he will know it better than you.

In the smartphone world, with all these apps, you can have a tiny trainer for yourself for free. If you can find such options, capitalize on them.


I did not mean this blog post to give you some cheat code you can use to bypass hard work. Hard work is an indispensable element of success and can’t be replaced with. But there are certain steps you can take to make your effort more effective. The aim shouldn’t be to maximize your effort, it is for maximizing your output.

The reason I brought this up is that most of us are working hard without reaping the benefit of hard work. I hope this blog post helped in providing ways to make your hard work lead you to better opportunities.

If you want to read more about effective learning techniques, click here.

Share this post

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *