As you learn a skill and develop your abilities, there comes a middle point. From this point, the road before you looks an awful lot like the road behind you. In a way, mastery is a regression back to your baseline…
Novices see the world in a simple way. This is because the novice ignores most of the information in front of them. Think of someone learning to drive. Before they sit behind the wheel, they think it’ll be easy. They’ve seen adults do it without any drama.
You just turn the steering wheel and go, right?
A master at driving also sees it as a simple task. They ignore most of the information, paying attention only to what matters.
Then they just turn the wheel and go.
In between these two phases – near the middle point – driving is complicated. There is so much information to pay attention to. Lanes, speed, other cars, your destination…
They turn the steering wheel while information floods into their mind.
Both geniuses and dunces see things as simple. The path to mastery is about learning complexity, then how to simplify it.
What separates the masters from the novices is focus. Novices don’t know what to pay attention to, so they ignore almost everything. Masters also ignore almost everything, but they narrow in on the one relevant detail and decide from there.
This is the true power of strong focus. Yes, it keeps you on track. Yes, it allows you to ignore lesser priorities.
But its real virtue is being the heart of mastery.
The better you can focus, the more able you are to fixate on the relevant details. Once you know what to focus on, mastery accelerates.
And the best way to train your focus is through meditation. If you can pay attention to your breathing, then you soon realise you interesting it can be. There are so many sensations involved in inhaling and exhaling. Until you notice them, every breath seems the same.
Like a novice ignoring all the details.
When you learn to find interesting variations in your breathing, you can apply that to anything. If air moving in your nostrils is interesting, people are fascinating. You’ll never suffer through a boring conversation again, because you realise there’s no such thing.
Monks can stare at a rock with rapt attention, mesmerised by its features and details. As the sun moves through the sky, it lights the stone in different ways. You can learn to see more of it through the power of focus.
And when your focus is this powerful, everything else in life becomes easy.
Another way to train your focus is through self-hypnosis. People think of a hypnotic trance as like sleeping. The truth is you become hyperaware. In this state, you can quickly and easily exercise your powers of focus.
And the gym to exercise your mind is right here: