Ratcheting up the “current best you” in the pursuit of mastery requires fusing a healthy appreciation of and self-confidence in that current best you with the balancing humility required to be open to others’ helping you get ever better. This proposition is derived from a combination of Roger Neill’s ”current best thinking” approach and Hitendra Wadhwa’s “Inner Mastery, Outer Impact” book.

Current Best Thinking

As I wrote earlier in describing Neill’s current best thinking approach, when you give someone a recommendation or proposal, you’re selling. They’re buying. You’re forcing them into an evaluative, yes/no mode.

On the other hand, when you go to someone with your current best thinking, you’re inviting them to contribute their perspective to help ratchet up that thinking. As Neill reminded me, this is forward-looking and positive, different than a “strawman,” which can be treated much more negatively.

Inner Mastery, Outer Impact

Trying to get at the essence of Wadhwa’s remarkable book, “Inner Mastery, Outer Impact” is a fool’s errand. This is not a book to summarize. It’s a book to be digested slowly and reflected on deeply. It makes you think.

One of my own takeaways is about the opportunity for people to write their own hero’s journey and, a la Joseph Campbell, accept their quest, face the inevitable challenges and obstacles in the company of mentors and allies on the way to personal transformation and enlightenment.

Wadhwa lays out five Core Energies crucial to that journey: Purpose, Wisdom, Growth, Love, and Self-realization:

  • A Purpose-driven path in life, paved with values, with goals as your milestones
  • Wisdom born of uncovering and embracing the truth in all matters, and directing your emotions and thoughts in the service of your Purpose with “nonattachment” to short-term outcomes
  • Continual Growth in the inward connection with your Core and your outward expression of it in all you do
  • Love, taking joy in others’ joy, and finding success in their success
  • Self-realization, marked by being centered with a tranquil and joyful spirit within

Current Best You

Just as every organization is perfectly designed to deliver the results it’s currently delivering, each of us has a set of talents, knowledge, skills, and experience that makes us be who we are, do what we do, and say what we say currently. Own it. Follow UCLA coach John Wooden’s advice and give “the best effort of which you are (currently) capable.”

And then, continually increase your capabilities to ratchet up the current best you. You can’t do that on your own. This is why it’s so important to be open to others’ help.

Wadhwa’s five Core energies provide a useful framework for just that:

  • Dig deep to own your own Purpose. Figure out what matters most to you. This should be the North Star that informs all the important choices you make, combining the why of your personal mission, the what of your vision, and the how of your personal values and guiding principles – who you want to be.
  • Have enough self-confidence and humility to be open to help. Mitigate your personal biases to get to the “ground truth” about your own situation and capabilities so you can accept that current reality – creating a gap with your Purpose.
  • Make the choice to grow your core strengths on a never-ending, continual basis, investing in learning knowledge, practicing skills, sacrificing comfort to gain hard-won experience and, as appropriate, apprenticing yourself to masters to build craft-level caring and sensibilities.
  • Be an other-focused leader, helping others succeed and find their own happiness. While happiness is always found in some combination of doing good for others, doing things you are good at, and doing good for yourself, the world needs more leaders who make doing good for others their top priority – hopefully, starting with you.
  • Appreciate and have confidence in the “current best you,” while, at the same time, following through on the choices you make to grow, and actually taking the steps required for that growth in line with your Purpose.

Through it all, remember this is not about achieving mastery because if you think you’ve reached the peak, the only way to go is down. It is about being content with the healthy discontentment of those committed to the never-ending pursuit of mastery. As Roger Neill put it, “The world still belongs to the discontented.”

Click here for a list of my Forbes articles (of which this is #821) and a summary of my book on executive onboarding: The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan

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