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1

What's this Chapter?

Ch.8 - Respect the Process - Mastery

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What's this Chapter's Judgment?

The fools in life want things fast and easy - money, success, attention. Boredom is their great enemy and fear. Whatever they manage to get slips through their hands as fast as it comes in. You, on the other hand, want to outlast your rivals. You are building the foundation for something that can continue to expand. To make this happen, you will have to serve an apprenticeship. You must learn early on to endure the hours of practice and drudgery, knowing that in the end all of that time will translate into a higher pleasure - mastery of a craft and of yourself. Your goal is to reach the ultimate skill level - an intuitive feel for what must come next.

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The Fearless Approach
For our most primitive ancestors, life was a constant struggle, entailing endless labor to secure food and shelter. If there was any free time, it generally was reserved for rituals that would give meaning to such a hard life. Then, over thousands of years of civilization, life gradually became easier for many, and with that came more and more free time. In such moments, there was no need to work the fields or worry about enemies or the elements - just an expanse of hours to somehow fill. And suddenly a new emotion was born into the wild - boredom. How did this boredom affect us?

At work or in rituals, the mind would be filled with various tasks to accomplish; but alone in one's house, this free time would allow the mind to roam wherever it wanted. Confronted with such freedom, the mind has a tendency to gravitate towards anxieties about the future - possible problems and dangers. Such empty time faintly echoes the eternal emptiness of death itself. And so with this new emotion that assailed our ancestors came a desire that haunts us to this day - to escape boredom at all cost, to distract ourselves from these anxieties.

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The Fearless Approach
In such moments, there was no need to work the fields or worry about enemies or the elements - just an expanse of hours to somehow fill. And suddenly a new emotion was born into the wild - boredom. The principal means of distraction are all forms of public entertainment, drugs and alcohol, and social activities. But what's the problem with these distractions?

Such distractions have a drug-like effect - they wear off. We crave new ones, faster ones, to lift us out of ourselves and divert us from the harsh realities of life and creeping boredom.

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The Fearless Approach
The principal means of distraction are all forms of public entertainment, drugs and alcohol, and social activities. Such distractions have a drug-like effect - they wear off. We crave new ones, faster ones, to lift us out of ourselves and divert us from the harsh realities of life and creeping boredom. How is this the pattern that boredom has created for the human animal ever since?

We look outside ourselves for diversions and grow dependent on them.

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The Fearless Approach
The principal means of distraction are all forms of public entertainment, drugs and alcohol, and social activities. In the past, these extremes of boredom assailed mostly those in the upper classes. Now it is something that plagues almost all of us. Why do we look outside ourselves for diversions and grow dependent on them?

These entertainments have a faster pace than the time we spend at work. Work then is experienced as something boring - slow and repetitive. Anything challenging, requiring effort, is viewed the same way - it's not fun; it's not fast. If we go far enough in this direction, we find it increasingly difficult to muster the patience to endure the hard work that is required for mastering any kind of craft. It becomes harder to spend time alone. Life becomes divided between what is necessary (time at work) and what is pleasurable (distractions and entertainment).

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The Fearless Approach
There is, however, another possible relationship to boredom and empty time, a fearless one that yields much different results than frustration and escapism. How does it go?

You have some large goal that you wish to achieve in your life, something you feel that you are destined to create. If you reach that goal, it will bring you far greater satisfaction than the evanescent thrills that come form outside diversions. To get there you will have to learn a craft- educate yourself and develop the proper skills. All human activities involve a process of mastery. You must learn the various steps and procedures involved, proceeding to higher and higher levels of proficiency. This requires discipline and tenacity - the ability to withstand repetitive activity, slowness, and the anxiety that comes with such a challenge.

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The Fearless Approach
There is, however, another possible relationship to boredom and empty time, a fearless one that yields much different results than frustration and escapism. Once you start down this path, two things will happen. What's the first?

Having the larger goal will lift your mind out of the moment and help you endure the hard work and drudgery.

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The Fearless Approach
There is, however, another possible relationship to boredom and empty time, a fearless one that yields much different results than frustration and escapism. Once you start down this path, two things will happen. What's the second?

As you become better at this task or craft, it becomes increasingly pleasurable. You see your improvement; you see connections and possibilities you hadn't noticed before. Your mind becomes absorbed in mastering it further, and in this absorption you forget all your problems - fears for the future or people's nasty games. But unlike the diversion that comes from outside sources, this one comes from within. You are developing a lifelong skill, the kind of mental discipline that will serve as the foundation of your power.

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The Fearless Approach
What is required once you chose the other possible relationship to boredom and empty time; the fearless one that yields much different results than frustration and escapism?

To make this work you must choose a career or a craft that excites you in some deep way. You are creating no dividing line between work and pleasure. Your pleasure comes in mastering the process itself, and in the mental immersion it requires.

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The Fearless Approach
To make this work you must choose a career or a craft that excites you in some deep way. You are creating no dividing line between work and pleasure. Your pleasure comes in mastering the process itself, and in the mental immersion it requires. Describe those who go this route?

The types who go in the latter direction have a deep hunger for power and a sense of urgency. Nipping at their heels at all times is the possibility of a life of crap jobs or dangerous distractions. They teach themselves to be patient and to practice something. They have learned from early on, through their jobs or through hustling, to endure the long, boring stretches of time that are necessary to master a process. They do not whine or seek to escape this reality, but instead see it as a means to freedom.

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The Fearless Approach
For those of us who do not grow up in such an environment, we do not feel this urgent connection between discipline and power. Our jobs are not so dull. Some day they may lead to something really good, or so we think. We have developed some discipline at school or on the job, and it's enough. But we are in fact deluding ourselves. More often than not our jobs are something that we endure; we live for our time off and dream of the future. We are not engaged in the daily activity of the job with our full mental powers because it is not as exciting as life outside work. We develop less and less tolerance for dull moments and repetitive activity. If we happen to lose our job or want something else, we suddenly have to confront the fact that we do not have the requisite patience to make the proper change. What's the lesson?

Before it is too late we must wake up and realize that real power and success can come only through mastering a process, which in turn depends on a foundation of discipline that we are constantly keeping sharp.

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The Fearless Approach
The fearless types in history inevitably display in their lives a higher tolerance than most of us for repetitive, boring tasks. This allows them to excel in their field and master their craft. Part of this comes from seeing early on in life the tangible results that come from such rigorousness and patience.
When we look at those who stand out in history, we tend to focus on their achievements. From such an angle, it is easy for us to be dazzled and see their success as stemming from genetics and perhaps some social factors. They are gifted. We could never reach their level, or so we think. But we are choosing to ignore that telling period in their lives, when each and every one of them underwent a rather tedious apprenticeship in their field. What kept them going was the power they quickly discovered through mastery of certain steps. Sudden insights came to them that seem like genius to us, but are actually part of any intense learning process. What's the lesson?

If only we were to study that part of their lives as opposed to the legends they later became, we would understand that we too could have some or all of that power by a patient immersion in any field of study. Many people cannot handle the boredom this might entail; they fear starting out on such an arduous process. They prefer their distractions, dreams, and illusions, never aware of the higher pleasures that are there for those who choose to master themselves and a craft.

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Keys to Fearlessness
Learning language sets the pattern for all human activities - purely intellectual or physical. To master a musical instrument or a game, we begin at the lowest level of competence. The game seems boring as we have to learn the rules and play on a simple level. As with learning language, we feel frustrated. We see others play well and we imagine how that could feel, but we are locked in this mode of tedious practice and repetition. At such a point we either give in to our frustration and give up the process, or we proceed, intuiting the power that lies just around the corner. Slowly our ability rises and the frustration lowers. We don't need to think so much; we are surprised by our fluency and connections that come to us in a flash. What happens after that?

Once we reach a certain level of mastery, we see there are higher levels and challenges. If we are disciplined and patient, we proceed. At each higher level, new pleasures and insights await us - ones not even suspected when we started out. We can take this as far as we want - in any human activity there is always a higher level to which we can aspire.

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Keys to Fearlessness
How does the increased speed from technology accentuate this childish aspect of our character?

The slow accumulation of knowledge seems unnecessarily boring. Learning should be fun, fast, and easy. On the Internet we can make instant connections, skimming along the surface from one subject to the next. We come to value breadth of knowledge over depth, the power to move here or there than digging deeper to the source of a problem and finding out how things tick.

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Keys to Fearlessness
The increased speed from technology accentuates this childish aspect of our character. This new pattern of thinking and learning is not progress. It creates a phenomenon that we shall call the "short-circuit." Explain it.

To reach the end of anything, to master a process, requires time, focus, and energy. When people are so distracted, their minds constantly moving from one thing to another, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain concentration on one thing for a few hours, let alone for months and years. Under this influence, the mind will tend to short-circuit; it will not be able to go all the way to the end of a task. It will want to move on to something else that seems more enticing.

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Keys to Fearlessness
To reach the end of anything, to master a process, requires time, focus, and energy. When people are so distracted, their minds constantly moving from one thing to another, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain concentration on one thing for a few hours, let alone for months and years. Under this influence, the mind will tend to short-circuit; it will not be able to go all the way to the end of a task. It will want to move on to something else that seems more enticing. What are the net effects of short-circuits?

It becomes hard to make things well when the focus is broken - which is why we find a gradual increase in products that are shoddy, made with less and less attention to detail.

18

Keys to Fearlessness
Understand: the real secret, the real formula for power in this world, lies in accepting the ugly realities that learning requires a process, and this in turn demands patience and the ability to endure drudge work. It is not sexy or seductive at first glance, but this truth is based on something real and substantial - an age-old wisdom that will never be overturned. What is key to Mastery?

The key is the level of your desire.

19

Keys to Fearlessness
If you are really after power and mastery, then which idea will you absorb deeply and engrave in your mind?

That there are no shortcuts. You will distrust anything that is fast and easy. You will be able to endure the initial months of dull, repetitive labor, because you have an overall goal. This will prevent you from short-circuiting, knowing many things but mastering none of them. In the end, what you really will be doing is mastering yourself - your impatience, your fear of boredom and empty time, you need for constant fun and amusement.

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Keys to Fearlessness
What are the 5 principal strategies for developing the proper relationship to process?

-Progress Through Trial and Error
-Make Something Simple
-Internalize the Rules of the Game
-Attune Yourself To the Details
-Rediscover Your Natural Persistence

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-Progress Through Trial and Error
Too often our concept of learning is to absorb ideas from books, to do what others tell us to, and perhaps to do some controlled exercises. But how is this an incomplete and fearful concept of learning which is actually cut off from practical experience? 1/4

We are creatures who make things; we don't simply imagine them. To master any process you must learn through trial and error. You experiment, you take some hard blows, and you see what works and doesn't in real time. You expose yourself and your work to public scrutiny. Your failures are embedded in your nervous system; you do not want to repeat them. Your successes are tied to immediate experience and teach you more. You come to respect the process in a deep way because you see and feel the progress you can make through practice and steady labor. Taken far enough, you gain a fingertip feel for what needs to be done because your knowledge is tied to something physical and visceral. And having such intuition is the ultimate point of mastery.

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-Make Something Simple
Often we have a general feeling of insecurity because we have never really mastered anything in life. Unconsciously we feel weak and never quite up to the task. Before we begin something, we sense we will fail. What is the best way to overcome this once and for all?

To attack this weakness head-on and build for ourselves a pattern of confidence. And this must be done by first tackling something simple and basic, giving us a taste for the power we can have.

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-Make Something Simple
What is the power in making something simple?

When you take the time to master a simple process and overcome a basic insecurity, you develop certain skills that can be applied to anything. You see instantly the reward that comes from patience, practice, and discipline. You have the sense that you can tackle almost any problem in the same way. You create for yourself a pattern of confidence that will continue to rise.

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-Internalize the Rules of the Game
Understand: when you enter a group as part of a job or a career, there are all kinds of rules that govern behavior - values of good and bad, power networks that must be respected, patterns to be followed for successful action. If you do not patiently observe and learn them well, you will make all kinds of mistakes without knowing why or how. If you find yourself confronting an unjust and corrupt system, it is much more effective to learn its codes from the inside and discover its vulnerabilities. Knowing how it works, you can take it apart -for good.
How must you think of social and political skills as a craft that you must master as well as any other?

In the initial phase of your apprenticeship you must do as Marshall did and mute your colors. Your goal here is not impress people with your brilliance but to learn these conventions from the inside. Watch for telling mistakes that others have made in the group and for which they have paid a price - that will reveal particular taboos within the culture. With a deepening knowledge of these rules you can begin to maneuver them for your purpose.

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-Attune Yourself To the Details
When you begin a project of any kind, how is it often from the wrong end?

You tend to think first of what you want to accomplish, imagining the glory and money it will bring you if it succeeds. You then proceed to make this concept come to life.

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-Attune Yourself To the Details
Often you begin a project of any kind from the wrong end. You tend to think first of what you want to accomplish, imagining the glory and money it will bring you if it succeeds. You then proceed to make this concept come to life. Why does this approach tend to fail?

As you go forward you often lose patience, because the small steps to get there are not nearly as exciting as the ambitious visions in your head.

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-Attune Yourself To the Details
Often you begin a project of any kind from the wrong end. As you go forward you often lose patience, because the small steps to get there are not nearly as exciting as the ambitious visions in your head. In order to get very different results, how must you instead try the opposite approach?

You have a project you wish to bring to life, but you begin by immersing yourself in the details of the subject or field. You look at the materials you have to work with, the tastes of your target audience, and the latest technical advances in the field. You take pleasure in going deeper and deeper into these fine points - your research is intense. From this knowledge, you shape the project itself, grounding it in reality rather than in airy concepts in your head. Operating this way helps you slow your mind down and develop patience for detailed work, an essential skill for mastering nay craft.

28

-Rediscover Your Natural Persistence
This is the dilemma we all face: to accomplish anything worthwhile in life generally takes some time - often in blocks of years. But we are creatures who find it very hard to manage such long periods. We are immersed in the day-to-day; our emotions fluctuate with each encounter. We have immediate desires we are constantly working to satisfy. In that long period of time that we need to reach a goal, we are assailed by a thousand distractions and temptations that seem more interesting. We lose sight of our objectives and end up following some detour. This is the source of so many of the failures in our lives.
To force yourself past any obstacle or temptation, you must be persistent. As children we all had this quality because we were single-minded; you must simply rediscover and redevelop this character trait. What's the first step?

You must understand the role that your energy level plays in mastering a process and bringing something to completion. If you take on added goals or new tasks, your focus will be broken up and you will never attain what you wanted in the first place. You cannot persist on two or three paths, so avoid that temptation.

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-Rediscover Your Natural Persistence
This is the dilemma we all face: to accomplish anything worthwhile in life generally takes some time - often in blocks of years. But we are creatures who find it very hard to manage such long periods. We are immersed in the day-to-day; our emotions fluctuate with each encounter. We have immediate desires we are constantly working to satisfy. In that long period of time that we need to reach a goal, we are assailed by a thousand distractions and temptations that seem more interesting. We lose sight of our objectives and end up following some detour. This is the source of so many of the failures in our lives.
To force yourself past any obstacle or temptation, you must be persistent. As children we all had this quality because we were single-minded; you must simply rediscover and redevelop this character trait. What's the second step?

Try breaking things up into smaller blocks of time. You have a large goal, but there are steps along the way, and steps within the steps. These steps represent months instead of years. Reaching these smaller goals gives you a sense of tangible reward and progress. This will make it easier for you to resist any diversions along the way and fearlessly push ahead. Remember: anything will give way to a sustained, persistent attack on your part.

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Reversal
We generally experience boredom as something painful and to be avoided at all costs. From childhood on, we develop the habit of immediately looking for some activity to kill the feeling. But this activity, if repeated often enough, becomes boring as well. And so for our entire lives we must search and search for novel amusements - new friends, new trends to latch on to, new forms of entertainment, new religions or causes to believe in. This search might lead us to change our careers and set us on a path of meandering here and there, in search of something to dull the sensation. But in all of these cases, the root of the problem is not boredom itself but our relationship to it. How should you come to see boredom?

Try to look at boredom from the opposite perspective - as a call for you to slow yourself down, to stop searching for endless distractions. This might mean forcing yourself to spend time alone, overcoming that childish inability to sit still. When you work through such self-imposed boredom, you will find your mind clicks into gear - new and unexpected thoughts will come to you to fill the void. To feel inspired you must first experience a moment of emptiness. Use such moments to assess the day that went by, to measure where you are headed. It is a relief to not feel that constant need for outside entertainment.