August 17, 2016
How Great Masters Think
By Robin Sharma
The old model of leadership is obsolete. Now for an organization to truly excel in these times of deep change – at every level – must show leadership and do their best work. Anyone can Lead Without a Title. Welcome to Leadership 2.0
Robin Sharma is Global Leadership Expert. #1 Best Selling Author.
It’s springtime in my hometown. The tulips bloom. The leaves return. The warm breezes flow. Reading the TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and fascinated not only by the choices but by the common commitment to utter excellence that infiltrates their lives…
They mention famed author Haruki Murakami, whose book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running I truly adore. Murakami is a marathon runner (he started at 33), a former jazz club owner and self-described loner who took up writing because he wasn’t a great musician. More importantly, his painstaking devotion to his craft has allowed him to have an explosive impact on the world of literature.
They list Harry Potter star Emma Watson (she auditioned for the first movie at the age of 9), a gender equality advocate whose “HeForShe” speech before the United Nations moved me deeply and reminded me that few things matter more than standing for a cause you’d take a bullet for.
They include Kanye West whose debut album College Dropout is without a doubt one of the greatest Hip Hop works of all-time (Do yourself a favor and listen to the song Last Call before you ever give up on a dream–you’ll get a sense of the struggles he had to transcend over many years to become “an overnight sensation”). Love him or dis-love him, West’s devotion to total craft mastery is indisputable. And inspirational.
TIME also profiles tech visionary Elizabeth Holmes, the 31 year old billionaire founder of Theranos. Henry Kissinger, on hearing her vision for her healthcare company after she’d just dropped out of Stanford, told her she had only two prospects: “total failure or vast success.” She clearly committed to the latter. And at a young age has become a master maker in the entrepreneurial field.
A discussion of rare-air influencers and epic producers also makes me think of…
–U2. I know they’ve been around for years but these guys are absolutely relentless in their pursuit of perfection. If the result is not amazing, they just don’t mess with it. Just listen to Bono sing Every Breaking Wave live on YouTube and tears will flow as you witness the pure mastery born of an adult lifetime of practice, gorgeously expressing itself.
–Jazz legend John Coltrane. As a sax player in his school band, he was unremarkable (just like Mozart’s first 10 years of musical compositions showed zero signs of genius). But after being blown away by a performance of Charlie Parker, he committed to the monomaniacal focus, study, training and sacrifice that eventually allowed him to produce sounds that no one had ever heard before (he practiced the sax so hard the reeds would be soaked with his blood).
–William Shakespeare. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Shakespeare wrote almost 1/10th of the most quoted lines in the English language and has been said to have introduced nearly 3000 words to it. A true titan of production.
So what do these A-players of immense achievement + global impact have in common that you can consider, to find your ideal approach?
The 4 Mindsets of Genius
#1. Nothing Matters More Than The Work.
Not fame. Not fortune. Not glory. “Balance” just isn’t the game of most people playing at legendary performance. Their lives are all about their craft.
It’s their true love, their greatest passion and their central mission. And because of this, they overcome the impatience, self-doubt, fear of stumbling and attraction to distraction that causes most of us to give up prior to genius showing up.
#2. The Process Matters More Than The Masterpiece.
Icons of their fields get that elite performance takes years of deep training. They see themselves as apprentices, learning the skill (often at the feet of a master) step by step, day by day. They commit to their education. They ritualize the discipline. They understand greatness takes time (Darwin had the devotion to study barnacles for 8 years as part of forging his scientific understanding).
#3. The Audacity of Originality Is The Dream.
Great performers go through a series of phases. They start as beginners (every pro was once an amateur). In this period, they watch the masters and copy their moves. With focus, grit and practice they reach the next part: technical brilliance. Audiences are delighted by their proficiency. But what lacks is soul and bravery and audacity. As the performer continues, they reach the final stage. This is where world-class skill meets serious heart. The performer has the guts to express their own voice. Do their own thing. Behave in ways no one has ever seen. This is the goal of every A-Player. To become a phenomenon.
#4. Genius Is an Inner Play.
Here’s what I mean by this observation: genius is less about natural gifts than internal character. The titans of sport + science + art + enterprise are not the smartest nor the most talented (just think of all the super-talented people who do nothing with their potential). No, the best of the best are those with the character traits that allow them to stick to the vision, transcend insecurity, endure the pain of intense practice and ignore the envious ridicule of their critics.
At this year’s Titan Summit, my legendary annual event for people ready to rise to best in world in their work and personal lives, I’m bringing in the top experts on the planet to help those who get a seat make genius performances a way of being as well as create lives they adore…
For now, please allow me to offer you these practices to start installing today to fuel your rise:
A. Set Initiations
All rare-air performers set clear challenges like the writer who sets a goal to produce a book within 60 days that contains languaging well-beyond anything she’s ever done. Or the tech star who creates the app that disrupts an industry. Or the athlete who runs farther than he’s ever run. Committing to regularly going past your limits, painful as this behavior is, is how you blow past them.
B. Leverage Solitude
We live in a world afraid of being alone. But masters get that isolation breeds ideation. We do our best thinking–and download our genius–away from the world, not within it. When we work alone in our studio or walk solo in the woods, our brain waves shift from beta to alpha. Neurochemicals like serotonin, dopamine and anandamide (the brain chemical of bliss) get made. Our pre-frontal cortex (the part of our brains that do all the thinking–and self-criticizing) becomes quiet. And we access the staggering brilliance that lies within each one of us.
C. Renew Your Assets
For the legendary producer, there are 3 main assets needed to sustain fantastic results: focus + willpower + energy. If all you do all day is use these resources without replenishing them, they will deplete. The wells will empty. You’ll descend from mastery to mediocrity. Your greatness will decline.