Step by Step

Learning to snowboard was ridiculously frustrating.  After all, I had gotten pretty good at skiing, so why, for an entire day, was I spending so much time with my butt in the snow and my board on its side instead of flowing down the mountain as I had expected?  The most irritating were the level areas… not having the skills to gather enough speed to push through the flat areas, I had to take the board OFF and clumsily walk to where the slope began again.  My ego was bruised and so was my booty, from all the falling, as you might figure.  I was a long way from mastering this sport on day one!

In the book, Mastery, author Robert Greene speaks of the trajectory to mastery not as a steady uphill climb, (or downhill in the case of snowboarding) but as stepped path, with areas that are level and others may even feel like we are taking a step back intermingled with jumps of success and learning.  Overall, it is our focus and tenaciousness that will see us to mastery and enable us to get back up when we fall and push through the areas that seem like we are going through a desert.

Oh, and grace.  We must give ourselves grace.

We can be so darn hard on ourselves.   I admit I can catch myself with an inner dialogue that would never, ever be repeated out loud to another human being without sounding absolutely abusive.  I “know” better, so why do I still hold up the proverbial whipping stick when I don’t make a goal, or accidentally forget something?  Fortunately, I am practicing grace and I have improved, just have not mastered it yet!

If you identify at all with this pattern, then I can tell you 3 things for sure:

  1. You are “normal” (But who wants to settle for that?)
  2. You can get better at giving yourself grace. And when you do, it will filter over into every relationship you have. You will feel more patience, empathy and forgiveness because you practice it daily on you.
  3. Your goals can still be reached.  Being kind to your self costs you nothing.

Mastery is not a destination but the journey.  If you choose to set out on the journey of mastery (of self, of a skill or sport) you have the choice to have your journey flavored with frustration or you can walk with eyes open with curiosity and a heart of passion.  Take guides with you along the way.  Coaches and mentors that can take your hand and hold that vision that at times you cannot see on your path.

After a late afternoon literal temper tantrum in the snow, I decided to pace myself behind one of the instructors who was on his last run to the lodge.  He was relaxed and smooth.  I traced his pattern in the snow and copied his body movement.  If I hadn’t sought help, I might still be up on that mountain!  On day two, I actually began to love the sport!

Oh I haven’t mastered snowboarding but I do revisit the struggle when I am faced with frustration in my learning curves in life and business and even relationships.  And I also recall the rewarding sensation when I finally felt the flow of the board as it carved easily down the mountain.  It keeps me going when I get on the “level” because I have faith the flow is soon to come.