Mastery is a journey that every person should go on in their life. It's not something we encourage anymore, though. There used to be a time where you would choose a trade, and that would be the thing you work at learning to master.

If you were a blacksmith, you would be an apprentice and spend years learning under a veteran. With time, you became good enough to move on and begin to work on your own. Mastery is the path you take to get good at one specific skill. My route involved sprinting.

Success is not a game of chance. When you look at any successful person, it may seem random until you get to know their back story. You will see how they had the right family or met the right person at the right time. The stars need to align in many ways to succeed.

Sprinting taught me that success starts with mastery. There are a few things you can do to increase your chances of achieving knowledge. The only way to master anything is to embrace change and growth. 

Success is not a game of chance. When you look at any successful person, it may seem random until you get to know their back story.

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Get a Coach ?

My first track and field coach played a huge role in shaping the track careers of many of my good friends. There was a group of about 10 of us that trained together for years. We all ended up getting athletic scholarships to US schools from Canada.

With sports, its so easy to see the benefit of a coach. Outside of sports, most people try to learn skills on their own. It's not the same at all!

The first thing a coach will do is help you to evaluate where you are. Then they will give you direction so you can move forward. A coach will also provide you with accountability for your mastery.

My first track coach did a fantastic job teaching me the fundamentals of sprinting. We did not obsess over block starts or plyometrics what I remember more than anything is working on dorsiflexion. It seems so insignificant, but it's one of the essential habits of sprinting.

  • Coaches see the small things
  • Coaches lay out a plan

Don't Be Scared to Learn From a Different Coach ?

I got a scholarship, and I had to move on from my high school coach. After training with one coach from age 7 - 18, moving on was not easy.. When people switch coaches. People look at immediate performance to judge if it was a good idea.

The better way of looking at it is for personal growth. If I could have stuck with my high school coach and run faster than I did, I still would have switched coaches.

I learned way more about myself and life by having to get outside of my comfort zone and do things differently. In the long run, I ended up running well with my college coach, but it did not seem to be that way at first.

  • Take in as much knowledge from different coaches as possible

A Mentor is a Must For Mastery ?

Canada's Justyn Warner runs the 4x100-meter relay at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London on Saturday, August 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

My mentor happened to be my older brother. He is three years older than me, and we went to the 2012 Olympics together. When I was growing up, he was my jack ass older brother of course but looking back I see things much clearer.

There is two big difference between a mentor and a coach. A mentor is doing it, and they don't need you to succeed for them to succeed.

No good coach is going to be happy if you fail. A mentor knows that how you do plays no role in their outcomes. They help you out of the good of their heart.

Mentors look very different, but you have to understand that they are not going to hold your hand. My brother was not a very vocal guy, but he showed me how to win and be great. He got a scholarship, and that showed me that I could do it too. I would need to embrace change and growth a lot more than I had until that point. 

Most people try and avoid getting mentors because they often will rip you apart like a good big brother. They are not here to boost your ego. A mentor is there to lay down some truth and help keep you on the right path. A good mentor will take years off your journey to mastery.

  • Mentors are there to help you
  • Mentors have no vested interest in your success.

Get Your Family Involved with Your Mastery ?‍?‍?‍?

The journey to mastery is hard. You will have low moments. When hard moments hit, you want to have family on your side. It's hard to struggle and feel like your family is against you. Parental support is paramount when traveling the problematic path of mastery.

A lot of people attribute the success to genetics but its a lie. Genetics does play a role, but the bigger picture is a family that is all in for a dream. They are they to support you and pick you up when things get rough.

Make sure your family knows that you are working on mastering something. Get them excited about it, find ways to involve them, and show them the progress you are making as you go. It will go a long way in winning their support for the long run.

When I was growing up, my parents took the time to teach my brother and me about supplements. They would read books to help us and then educate us. They came and watched practices; they rarely missed our races. They did all the little things an athlete could ask for to feel supported.

  • Allow your loved ones to help

Hand Pick Your Wolf Pack for Mastery?

One of the best choices I made in my life was going to Birchmount Park for high school. I lived in Markham, which is a suburb of Toronto, so I had to travel quite a ways each morning to get there.

My parents encouraged my brother and me to go to Birchmount because it was the best track and field school. They did not push "good grades" on us because they knew it did not motivate me.

When I got to Birchmount, all I hung around was track and field savages. My wolf pack was nasty. We all wanted to win, we all wanted scholarships, and we pushed each other to the max. Most people could only handle being around us for so long because life was track.

There was an obsession with being high, and that's what mastery takes. You don't master something being lackluster about it. Passions get a bad wrap in society now because we only think of stalker movies. Stalking people is not good but stalking the skill you want to master is a great thing.

When your tribe all wants the same thing, you push each other to be better. It's hard to succeed when you are always around people who don't get what you are working towards. These words explain it best.

"Mediocre people don't like high achievers, and high achievers don't like mediocre people." - Nick Saban

  • Surround yourself with winners

The Journey Is Never Complete With Mastery

Here is one of the essential pieces of mastery. You can not have all the other parts, but if you have this, you still have a chance. There is no such thing as being a master. There is always a new way you can embrace change and growth. 

Talk to any person who you consider to be a boss at what they do. It could be Dan Pfaff in track and field or Warren Buffet for finance, and they are learners. People who master their craft are always learning and trying to improve.

They don't wake up one day and go; you know what, I have learned it all. I am good to go! That is a death sentence for mastery. When you start learning, you realize how much you don't know. Learning should always humble you and not make you cocky.

Mastery is life long! If you're not willing to give your experience, then why bother? Does no one ever say you know what I am the perfect mother or father? Because it's a long journey that you get to do over with grand kids and great-grand kids. What a blessing mastery can be when you have the right approach.

Ian Warner

About the author

I went from a broken leg to a 2012 Olympian. I have spent the last 15 years building positive habits as a track athlete and entrepreneur. I founded Habit Stacker and dedicated my life to helping people to develop winning habits. I have helped over 5,000 people...

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