The False Promise of “Mastery”

I know, I know. There are many very prominent leaders offering courses and seminars coined as “mastery” programs. How could this be a problem?

I’ll let you in on a secret: mastery is marketing. Just as is the promise of millions, the house, the car, the relationship. Mastery gives us some sense that there is somewhere to go and that this program is the way to get there.

But do you ever stop and wonder why the same people return to these events over and over? Why they become evangelists and lifelong students of the programs?

Because mastery is a blind alley, albeit an alley that is brightly lit with cheering community, sparkles of gold and intoxicating shame triggers.

Come take this mastery course. Come perfect thyself. The underlying and ingenious marketing message being that you are not good enough. That where you are is a disappointment and you must get going if you are going to win this life.

The truth is that most of our “problems” are not as complex as the self-help, semi-credentialed, pseudo-spiritual capitalists would like you to believe. Sure, it sells books and gets co-dependent folks hooked, but the path to freedom just isn’t that sexy.

Oftentimes we just suffer from a lack of doing. And this lack of doing is cultivated by a society that has conditioned you to fear missing out on the path you might have chosen, and so you choose no path at all. This paralysis is ambivalence — holding two opposing feelings or options at once. You want to move to the country and you want to stay with your wife. You want to save for a house and you don’t believe it’s possible.

You are stuck.

And it is simple.

But a program like “mastery”, man, that speaks right to your fears that you are inadequate or that there is some grand key you are missing out on. That the continuous seeking will somehow be fulfilling in and of itself. That is the false promise.

Guess what? While you are busy doing all that mastery and all those programs and diving deeper into your purpose — you ARE missing out on your life.

Most of these intoxicating promises reinforce avoidance. I will live my life once I have mastered myself.

Decision-making is what teaches us what we want and what we don’t want. Movement is the only form of truth we have. And your next steps are likely much SMALLER, far less INTERESTING (and yet more significant) than you’ve made them out to be.

Your next step is not determining the patterning that makes you incapable of getting what you want. It just isn’t that deep. That’s your own psychology trying to highlight all the ways you are wrong.

No. Your next step is paying the parking ticket. It’s making that doctor’s appointment. It’s going on that date. It’s finishing that project that is due. Your next step is integrity.

There is ALWAYS something right in front of you to DO. There is always a drawer to clean out. A friend to call back. A chapter to finish. A walk to go on. An errand to run. Mastery is in the details. Mastery is in the momentum and conscious motion of your life.

Look up. What’s in front of you? Do that.

And remember, mastery is just marketing.

PS: Maybe the thing you seek in the advertising is connection and community. So pick something you LOVE to do, and do that. You will find your people. And it won’t be predicated on all the ways you are in the wrong place.

This article was originally published on erikaleighraney.com. Visit my blog for more insights — from business strategy to personal growth.

Business & Brand Strategist. Professional Coach. Wilderness & Metaphysical Explorer. Civic Engagement Enthusiast. www.erikaleighraney.com

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