three-faces-of-eveAt the core of personal mastery is self-under-standing.  Transformation is about dealing with fundamental motives and causes rather than simply dabbling with symptomatic issues.

Nurturing these 5 “self’s” will fuel your quest for personal mastery.

1. Self-Awareness. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is not as easy as it sounds.  To understand our personal surpluses and deficits is not an option on our journey to personal greatness.  If we want to drive our performance, then we must be able to manage our emotions in ways that energize and direct that drive.  The research is plentiful that I.Q. accounts for about 20% of a person’s success.  Moods account for much more.  If we are not aware of our moods then they can end up controlling our behavior in ways that are counterproductive.   Self-awareness means we are growing in our ability to read our emotions accurately.  This gives us the ability to self-regulate and self-manage destructive moods and attitudes.  Mood mastery is necessary for personal mastery.

Principle — Be self-aware instead of self-conscious.

2. Self-Affirmation. We know it’s not healthy to speak against or gossip about others.  It becomes even more destructive when we use words to speak against ourselves.  Self-affirmation is a matter of choosing what we focus on.  If others talked to us the way we sometimes talk to ourselves, we would avoid them.  It can become easy to degrade ourselves – sometimes subliminally.  Use the power of the word toward yourself in the direction of truth and love.  Instead of letting other people and circumstances decide what you will focus on, make it your choice.  Attitudes that asphyxiate?You’re no good…lousy…incompetent…unable …ordinary…worthless. Attitudes that affirm?  “I am lovable…forgivable…capable… have strengths…am multi-talented…have purpose.”  The world can be a negative place.  You must counteract toxic noise.

Principle — Be self-affirming instead of self-degrading.

3. Self-Motivation. If you are waiting to be motivated by someone else, personal mastery will elude you.  Always giving your best is an inside job.  Some days are better than others, but each day you give your best.  Anything less leads to a “thin”  life and ultimately, regret.  Motivation is the underlying reason why a person does or does not do something.  The “stick and carrot incentive is not nearly as powerful as a person’s own innate interests. This raises the level of personal productivity and individual engagement.  It’s about knowing how you are hardwired and drawing on your natural sense of intrigue.

Principle — Be self-motivated instead of self-absorbed.

4.  Self-Differentiation. Knowing where you end and others begin is the key to healthy living.  It is to understand that when people get together they create an emotional force field.  This force field is powerful.  It can cause people to get enmeshed with others and fall into group think, or what some refer to as the herd instinct.  On the other extreme it can cause them to disconnect from others and lose important feedback loops – the keys to learning.  One extreme leads to a sense of helplessness, blame, rationalization, denial, co-dependency and victimhood.  When we self-differentiate we take responsibility for who and where we are.  Response-Ability means we have the ability to respond.    This powerful skill gives us increased choices and freedoms.  It strengthens our immune system to the opinions and actions of others.  To not do this is to become the victim of needless suffering.

Principle — Practice self-differentiation instead of self-pity.

5. Self-Love. This might sound narcissistic, but nothing could be further from the truth.  You cannot give what you don’t have.  If we are to “love our neighbor as our self”, then I will submit that your love for others cannot and will not exceed your love for yourself.  To “love” others without loving yourself is often an act of desperation to seek someone’s approval.  As a result it says more about the “senders” needs than the needs of the “receiver.” Sometimes wanting the best for others can involve pain. And wanting the best for yourself includes telling yourself the truth.  And who, at times, hasn’t found that to include some pain?  There’s a reason why the airline’s safety instructions tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others.  You’ll be no good to them without it.  You can’t give what you don’t have.

Principle — Be self-loving instead of self-serving.

These 5 self’s will help you discover and express what you want.  They lead to clear communication and help avoid drama, regret, sadness and misunderstanding.  Personal greatness is not possible without them.

How have these worked for you?

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6 Responses
  1. Personal greatness is a lofty goal. Mick breaks it down in simple ways that are easy to understand. Definitely something to strive for in the pursuit of greatness! Thanks, Mick!

  2. thanks mick -good reinforcement and added depth for one of coach woodens fundamentals from his seven point creed


  3. Mick — Thought provoking article. I’m curious, how are you defining “personal greatness”?

    Is it:
    – Greatness in one’s own opinion?
    – General happiness?
    – Productive self-management?
    – Economic success?

    I appreciate your comments.

    Scott Thomas
    President – PeopleWorx, Inc.

  4. Mick

    Thanks Lynn. To even refer to me in the same sentence with Coach Wooden is the highest compliment! He has marked us all profoundly!!

  5. Mick

    Actually Scott, it can be all of the above. The main thing is that personal greatness doesn’t come from staying in one’s comfort zone. It never has. When we stretch our circle of comfort, growth abounds. Personal greatness does not happen apart from growth. Too much stress is not healthy, but no stress is equally as bad. Just as our muscles expand through encountering resistance, our souls are also sculptured by the strains/problems/obstacles/resistance we encounter. They expand by demand. Staying in our comfort zones has never produced greatness. Greatness and our capacity are related. Maximizing our full potential is associated with greatness. As you can see, in this case I am referring to the process to greatness, than the product itself. Thanks, Scott, for your comment.

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