Mastery is a beautiful thing when you witness it or experience it. If you learn to recognize and appreciate it, mastery may appear from anywhere. Mastery goes beyond competence; it is the combined force of expertise, focus, and inner power that exceeds normal expectations. For sports fans, recall witnessing a great athlete who seems to will his entire team to rise above what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles and find a way to win. Music lovers can be transported to a higher state of reality in the presence of a great performance by a master musician. We can be moved and inspired to action by a master orator or writer. A master of any craft can create outstanding results and experiences, whether the craft be some form of therapy, carpentry, architecture, art, or preparing a gourmet meal. We admire mastery, but how can you or I attain it?

There is a certain mystique about mastery that suggests that some people just have it, that it is a natural talent that only a few possess. There is some truth to this, in that the great masters throughout history do seem to have a certain genius that the rest of us do not have. However, as Malcolm Gladwell explains in “Outliers: The Story of Success”, things are not always as we assume them to be. Many great hockey players in the NHL, for example, have the advantage of being born in the early months of the year, because as kids they benefitted from a system that allowed them to be the oldest and biggest in their clubs. This resulted in those older kids being selected to move up to the next level more quickly and over time they received the benefit of better coaching, better competition, and more playing time. Mastery, Gladwell points out, requires more than natural talent. It also requires dedication to greatness, hours and hours of practice, and the advantages of certain circumstances that come together support the achievement of mastery.

One of my favorite quotes is from Henry David Thoreau: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours”. This speaks to the combined forces that come together when a person decides to focus on attaining mastery, dedicates him or herself to success, and commits to taking the necessary actions over a long enough period of time to achieve it. It may seem mysterious, and it does appear that spiritual forces support such efforts, but it is not a matter of luck or accident. This is the first of a series of articles on mastery and an explanation of what has proven to be a successful coaching system for those who are ready and willing to realize their potential and attain mastery in their own unique way.

Author's Bio: 

I certainly don’t have all the answers but I believe life is about loving, learning, and experiencing new things. Let me share a few thoughts about my own path.

First of all, I have been around for a while working on getting better at helping others get better. I love to learn, to explore, to grow, and to stretch myself, and I seek to inspire others to do the same. I view my work with clients as a partnership in discovery, starting with wherever they are now and focusing on where they want to get to. I also learn from each client as I share in their journey and that keeps my work exciting and rewarding.


  • Advanced degrees in psychology, social work, and human resource development
  • Certified leadership coach
  • Member of NASW and MCDA

In addition to my clinical practice I have worked as an internal consultant for three major corporations. I also co-founded and ran a leadership development company and worked with leaders from for-profit and non-profit industries for eight years. My focus is individual leadership development and building effective leadership teams.

Warm regards,
Tom King