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4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,886 Ratings  ·  217 Reviews
"The pracitcal wisdom in George Leonard's book will have a great influence for many years to come."
-Michael Murphy, author of Golf in the Kingdom and The Future of the Body

Drawing on Zen philosophy and his expertise in the martial art of aikido, bestselling author Gorge Leonard shows how the process of mastery can help us attain a higher level of excellence and a deeper se
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Published May 1st 1991 by Penguin-HighBridge (first published February 1st 1991)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Matthew Horvat
Sep 03, 2009 Matthew Horvat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tools for Mastery

1. Maintain physical fitness
2. Acknowledge the negative and accentuate the positive
3. Try telling the truth
4. Honor but don't indulge your won dark side
5. Set your priorities
6. Make commitments. Take action.
7. Get on the path of mastery and stay on it

George Leonard explains these in his touchstone book, Mastery. The more that I see attempted transformations at work I realize that a big problem is that 'we' don't have a clue about learning. We just aren't in the habit of big cha
Miroku Nemeth
Mar 12, 2012 Miroku Nemeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An Aikido master on mastery...recommended by Shaikh Hamza Yusuf....
If you have ever striven for mastery out of love, where you lose yourself in the practice and the practice, the devotional act of being is in itself its own reward...then you will love this book.

It is a book that challenges the contemporary American ideal of the superiority of only climactic moments, that challenges instant gratification, and reveals a deeper, older, and more essential truth about life. Very interesting reading.
Miguel Mayher
Jun 28, 2009 Miguel Mayher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Video review:

This book has become a classic.

And rightly so.

George Leonard draws from his mastery of Aikido to write a zen-like manual on how to master ANY skill.

If you want to get good at something, or even great - don't read this book.

However, if you really want to master your craft - then you must read this book!.

The book is divided in 3 blocks:

An introduction into the most common approaches to learning a new skill: what Leonard calls the dabbler,
Scott Dinsmore
Why I Read this Book: In order to be truly successful I knew I had to understand how to become a master of life and those things important to me. There’s no better place to start.


There is nothing more inspiring than pure excellence. Have you ever witnessed someone do something incredibly well? How did it make you feel? Did it ever inspire you to go out and play that sport or that instrument or tackle that activity? If you’re anything like me, I bet it did. There is a funny thing about the
Sarah Siddiqui
Nov 19, 2014 Sarah Siddiqui rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What this book isn't: A manual on how to change your life and be the person you've always wanted to be.

What this book is: A set of rules inspired mostly by the sport of aikido to help you get started and hopefully keep you steadfast on the path of change and ultimately mastery.

The author shares advice which if followed may be quite beneficial in any field. The change however will only come from within. Volumes of text may not have any influence on a person and a single phrase might be enough to
Feb 26, 2012 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great read: lucidly written and very insightful. I finished the book in two afternoons, and I am by no means a fast reader.

Leonard's insights about mastery may be simple, and we may "already know" many of them, but how many of us have internalized them? This book will be, at most, a powerful revelation. At the very least it will be a helpful reminder and positive reinforcement. Either way it is valuable to the reader.

One of the key themes in this book is the idea that learning happens
Dec 28, 2013 Readme rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was hugely disappointed with this book.
Expecting great thing with the positive reviews.

There are a few good points that i have contemplated, re-read and absorbed.

But i felt the 90% of the content was dribble. Just simply words to fill the page and expand the size of the book to 170 pages.

For example there is an 1-2 pages wasted on explanation of how house hold air-condition system works in great detail? It is then later related to human behaviour.
3 pages dribble on mastering washing the dishe
Brett Anderson
Nov 11, 2013 Brett Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some key take away points:
1. Mastery, and learning in general, is a lifelong journey.
2. Success comes in spurts followed by large expanses of plateau; a practice for the enjoyment of the practice.
3. Practice (n) - something you have, something you are, something you practice on a regular basis that is an integral part of your life (pg 74) / "He does it just to enjoy himself."
4. "All of us who are born without serious genetic defects are born geniuses." (pg 12)
5. "Why do we resist our own most c
Hesham Khaled
"To love the plateau is to love the eternal now, to enjoy the inevitable
spurts of progress and the fruits of accomplishment,
then serenely to accept the new plateau that waits just beyond them.

To love the plateau is
to love what is most essential and
enduring in your
Ilya Mrz
While the author describes 5 keys to long-term success and fulfillment,as:
1. Instruction;
2. Practice;
3. Surrender;
4. Intentionality; and,
5. The Edge - Push the envelop.

Mastery is:
1. The process where what was difficult becomes both easier and
more pleasurable;
2. Long-term dedication to the journey - not the bottom line;
3. Gaining mental discipline to travel further on your journey;
4. Being goalless;
5. Realizing that the pleasure of practice is intensified;
6. Creating deep roots;
7. Knowing that yo
Arif Vakil
Nov 18, 2009 Arif Vakil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
I loved the way it introduces the American consumerist society, that is so insistant on having "EXCITING", "PINNACLE" moments that having plain ol' good times seem so vanilla and passe. Awareness is winning half the battle. Being alert to the messages being bombarded one can steel himself well from falling into a depressive trap. So, what's the answer, it's "Loving the Plateau". Brilliant concept. So true. As it's in the Plateau where you one lives most of his life till he gets his next high. Th ...more
Lance Willett
Jul 25, 2016 Lance Willett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
This is a great book because it's short, concise, friendly, and practical. It's a simple guide to mastery, only the parts you need to know about: keys to success, common tools and techniques, how to get energy to stick with it, and common pitfalls.

The main concept is that mastery only exists in the present, and is a lifelong journey. The path and the mastery are one and the same. To be a master you live for practice and love the game. There are no quick fixes — that mentality doesn't work in the
Chris Geoghegan
Mar 12, 2015 Chris Geoghegan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author talks about how to master a skill. He mentions about the fact that you spend more time on plateaus, sometimes even backsliding, then you do reaching the next level. He says that we must learn to love the plateaus and to enjoy the process. Love the art of practicing the skill and don't worry about the "results"...the results will take care of themselves.
Theoderik Trajanson
Feb 22, 2016 Theoderik Trajanson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Everyone should set aside the 30 minutes it takes to read this concise and significant book.
Ian Wallace
Dec 30, 2009 Ian Wallace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to me from my golf instructor.

A very short concise book of practical advice about learning new skills based on George's own experience taking up Aikido in his 40's and continuing it into his 70's. Suitable for me due to my own aging and reevaluation of life as I get older. Less about being superman and more about being persistent while challenging your own assumptions as you go, while setting yourself up as a life long learner (In my case of golf).

Influences - Japan, Buddhism, count
John Miedema
"Over the long haul, there's nothing like the path of mastery to lead you to an energetic life. A regular practice not only elicits energy but tames it. ... It might well be, in fact, that much of the world's depression and discontent, and perhaps even a good share of the pervasive malaise that leads to crime and war, can ultimately be traced to our unused energy, our untapped potential." George Leonard, Mastery, pg. 130-131.

Leonard speaks about practice and "living the plateau." Practice is no
David Oren
Aug 31, 2014 David Oren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

We live today in a world that promotes the "quick fix" mentality. We are showered with ads and news about people who made millions in absurdly short amount of time, diets that will make us lose 20lbs in 1 month and so on.

It's not a surprise then that in life we always look for the fast trip, the shortcut, the "one weird little secret" that will make things magically work out.

But in this book the author claims that the quick fix mentality isn't good for us,
Silvia Hajas
Oct 11, 2014 Silvia Hajas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Mastery: the mysterious process during which what is at first difficult becomes progressively easier and more pleasurable through practice."

If I hadn't read the rest of the book this was enough to help through the psychological block I had relating to my running activities.

I now understand that when I plateau, it's really just a stage of learning and ongoing practice. In life when on the path to mastery the student will spend more time in the state of plateau and experience only short bursts o
Jessica Lu
Nov 06, 2014 Jessica Lu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because this book being such a very good read, I decided to do a talk on this book when I get a chance. The chance did not come, so it has been sitting on my desk for a long time - half year, that is…

The author is a black-belt Aikido Master and through his experience and observation, he talks about what is mastery and how can we be a master of something. I learned from the book that if I want to master anything, I have to practice passionately and make it as a habit and love it as a hobby too. I
Omar Taufik
Jan 16, 2016 Omar Taufik rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can simply say this book was a great read and a definate recommendation to anyone.

The author defining mastery as a journey takes us in a journey within his book explaining the 5 keys of mastery in part 2 the actual essence of the book after giving an interesting part 1 on the concept in general describing how other paths contrary to mastery are followed with their negative impact on the individual and society as a whole.
In part 3 the author give us tools to use in this journey with many intere
I read Mastery years ago and recently found a video on this through Netflix. So, I am reviewing these concepts and finding the exploration interesting all again. Hopefully, I will apply these principles more fully as well.
Daniel Taylor
Wow! This book is written with prose that's beautiful and graceful. In describing the path to mastery, George Leonard foreshadows the rise of mindfulness as it's used in the lives of individuals around the world.
Quincy Cheuk cw
The things taught are pretty obvious and common sense
Dec 25, 2008 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Learning to love the plateau is where it's at. Being a task-oriented person this is hard for me to get my head around, but I see the wisdom in this kind of paradigm shift. Simply put: enjoy the journey.
Jonathan Chew
Jul 24, 2016 Jonathan Chew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good and short book on the difference between starting something and mastering something and how our society discourages us from mastery but confuses and promotes endless moments of climaxes instead of enjoying and learning during the plateaus where we feel like we aren't learning anything. I myself am a combination of all 3 types he goes over: a Dabbler, Hacker, and Obsessive at different times in my life. Always afraid of becoming a master. It's inspiring and daunting but willing to wear ...more
Feb 14, 2012 Wes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book. There are no quick fixes or shortcuts. The master's journey is endless. Thank you Mr. Leonard. A pleasure to read.
Ben Drexler
Jan 21, 2014 Ben Drexler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Long before the current swath of books trumpeting the 10,000 hour rule, this little-known book filled with sage advice seemed to have an intuitive grasp of the lessons that were about to enter pop psychology. Probably one of the most important books I've ever read in my life, this book discusses both the habits that lead to mastery as well as the habits that can bog a person down before they ever get that far. I remember instantly seeing myself reflected in the different learning curves discusse ...more
Sean Goh
Aug 07, 2016 Sean Goh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Human beings are learning animals.

Practice for the sake of practice itself. Love the plateau.

When you learn too easily, you're tempted not to work hard.

Surrender means there are no experts, only learners.

Instruction demands a certain humility, at best the teacher delights in being surpassed by the pupil.
The best teacher is the one who has discovered how to involve each student actively in the learning process.

Denial inhibits energy, realistic acknowledgement of the truth releases it

Never marry a
Apr 15, 2015 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology, self-help
Excellent reminder of the untapped potential within us all and the dedication it takes to truly master a skill, a sport, a vocation, an art. His treatment of how plateaus are natural and necessary, of the importance of the right teacher/coach, the role of practice, understanding homeostasis and change, and of the factors in modern life that can draw us away from the path of mastery are spot on. Written almost 25 years ago, the only thing out of date are references to VCRs and far too few TV chan ...more
Anish Chandy
Jul 03, 2016 Anish Chandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those rare books that will get more relevant over time. Leonard proposes a fluid system which the individual must tailor to himself rather than 5 habits or 7 ways. More importantly he does so in language that is lucid and precise. This comes from a deep understanding of how people function. Ironically the book is half the size of most quick fix self help books. I can now map when I've been a Dabbler, Obsessive or Hacker and consciously recognize when I backslide after making progr ...more
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George Burr Leonard (b. 1923) was an American writer, editor, and educator who wrote extensively about education and human potential. He was President Emeritus of the Esalen Institute, past-president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, President of ITP International, and a former editor of Look Magazine. He was also a former United States Army Air Corps pilot, and held a fifth degree bla ...more
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“Perhaps we'll never know how far the path can go, how much a human being can truly achieve, until we realize that the ultimate reward is not a gold medal but the path itself.” 14 likes
“For the master, surrender means there are no experts. There are only learners.” 1 likes
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