[b]Mastery, The Keys To Success and Long-Term Fulfillment /b
The Way of Aikido, Life Lessons From an American Sensei (1999)
George Leonard has been mentioned on this forum before. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Leonard
He was a writer for Esquire magazine, and apparently saw and pursued the positive elements of the counter-culture movement of the 1960’s, and co-founded the Esalen Institute with Michael Murphy.( Golf in the Kingdom)
These books are not about golf, and the word “golf” may be mentioned only a few times. Rather, Leonard’s concern is to convey what he has distilled over a lifetime regarding learning. For instance, he took up the martial art of Aikido as an adult, and became a 5th degree black belt and lifelong student/teacher. It is his conviction that the principles he learned and applied translate to essentially everything in life.
While Leonard may not have coined the phrase “it’s all about the journey”…he is a proponent of that adage. In fact, the briefest description of his concept of mastery seems not to necessarily be related to one’s skill, but rather the path one is on, and one’s commitment and attitude to it over the long-haul. While he is not opposed to fast learning, he does eschew the modern fixation with the quick-fix…short-cuts, superficial and temporary bandaids. Insights and improvements , may sometimes unexpectedly come after long periods when one seems stuck on a discouraging plateau, or even decline. The old “one step back, two steps forward” would apply. The lesson, according to Leonard, is to keep plodding…to learn to love the practice…to “develop a practice”…the way a doctor or lawyer does. Expertise will likely follow.
His discussion and explanation of “ki” ( chi) is congruent with ABS concepts. Other topics I liked are:
homeostasis…that property that seeks to maintain the status quo of an organism ( handicaps have not fallen),
attitude…“you OWN this mat” ( what a wonderful attitude one should take to the first tee…reminiscent of the way many great champion golfers carry themselves)
willingness to be a fool…a child learning to walk or talk has little concern about his appearance, his multiple failings. Most of us can learn from that, and be less concerned about failing how we look when we experiment with new techniques…or 50 year old equipment.
These books should be of great interest to students and teachers. I highly recommend them.