A Three-Step Framework for Mastery

Top

Earlier this week, my friend Mike shared a blog post from a strength coach named Ross Enamait illustrating how it doesn’t take much in the form of equipment to get strong. Ross demonstrates how you can progressively stress your entire body to the level of an elite athlete with nothing more than a handful of furniture sliders. Freaking elegant. 

This got me thinking: elegance is a common marker of mastery in just about every field of practice—from coaching, to writing, to medicine. Mastery generally means moving from simplicity to complexity to elegance. 

1. Simplicity
This is when you are first getting started with something. You’ve got to keep things very basic or else you’ll get overwhelmed. So you tackle one thing at a time, and often in a siloed manner. You are gradually building a toolkit but don’t yet understand the purpose of the tools, how they interact, or their potential to work together. 

2. Complexity
Now that you’ve got an understanding of all the tools, you’re excited about using them. So you use everything and come up with a narrative for how everything is necessary and fits together. You get swept up in the details because you can finally understand them. Plus, you tell yourself, the details matter! 

3. Elegance
You apply only what is needed to a certain situation and nothing more. Every action, sentence, or maneuver has a purpose. Constraints don’t bother you, they excite you. Your program is tight and efficient. You do more with less. 

Lots of people drop out in the simple zone. Entire industries prey upon those who get stuck in the complex zone. But it’s also true that you can only reach elegance if you move through simplicity and complexity first. So the point isn’t to avoid these zones. If you strive for elegance right off the bat you’ll end up with a mess. The point is to progress onward from each zone, to not quit or get stuck at a given phase for too long. It’s helpful to give each zone a name so you can take stock of where you are and define (ideally, with a coach or mentor) what it takes to move forward.

— Brad

Related posts

The Value of Holding Yourself Back

Reading Time: 3 min

I was struggling. I was in my competitive running days, in the best shape of my life, knocking out workouts I couldn’t imagine, but races were not going well. I…

View post

We Are Entering an Age of Ultra-Processed Information

Reading Time: 1 min

Last week, OpenAI unveiled an incredible new technology that allows you to type in simple prompts and get high-definition videos in return. Here are two brief examples: “​bling zoo​” and…

View post

5 Lessons on Life From the Greatest Sporting Event

Reading Time: 4 min

What can the world’s greatest sporting event teach us? A lot, even outside of sport. But wait…we’re not talking about the Super Bowl here. What event then? The US Olympic…

View post

Leave the first comment