The Masters golf tournament provides a great example of talent in action. The name of the tournament represents what it means to the sport of golf and its participants. What does it mean to be a master of something? How do we get to that state of mastery? Perhaps a better understanding comes from looking at the stages to mastery.
In the first stage of mastery there is talent, where one witnesses or comes to know of an underlying ability. Awareness is key in this stage. The person possessing the talent may not be able to see it and an observant coach or parent may make the first observation, “You have a natural talent for _________.” Yet without action, talent can simply lie latent. Look at the word talent; swap the first “t” and the “l” and talent becomes latent. How interesting is that?
To move toward mastery the talent must be developed, a raw ability transformed into strength. A strength is defined as the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance. Strengths derive from talent, which is a natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving. Add to this natural talent the investment of time spent practicing, developing and refining your talents and boom, you have a strength. Think of physical development; we know that repeatedly taxing a muscle in a positive way leads to a building of that muscle.
Mastery continues the investment in the talent through practice–both as a verb and a noun. Wearing the green jacket of the Masters comes not from just hitting thousands and thousands of shots, although that is part of it, it comes also from having a practice, a noun, describing the process of mastering. In this sense practice means having a discipline and a program around our development. A plan to help us move forward, refine our skills, develop our fitness and strengthen our mental toughness to keep us on the journey to the masters of our chosen endeavor.
To say that someone at the top of their game is “talented” undermines the effort required. We all have natural talents. What are yours and how are you “practicing” Mastery?
Barbara Stewart, CFP®
Coach to financial advisers
Owner and Founder