In preparation for our annual agency summit, we read the book Mastery by George Leonard. It was a great read and provided insight about career development, how to achieve success, create self-esteem, and be one with your feelings in both personal and professional worlds.

The author talks about achieving mastery as a process and an approach in which people dedicate themselves to learning to excel and become a master. In the process, Leonard discusses the concept of the plateau, which is defined as a point in learning where you may not progress or even regress. According to Leonard, it is okay to be on a plateau for some amount of time. These are some of the ways to achieve mastery that Leonard discusses:

  • Accept that mastery is a lifelong journey.
  • Practice and don’t get tired of repeating the same thing over and over again.
  • Surrender to the discipline of achieving mastery and love the process of mastery.
  • Accept that failure is part of the process to achieve mastery.
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However, there is one point where I would challenge the plateau. To achieve mastery, we all have to practice, which makes sense, but should we give ourselves a time limit? The author states that “you also have to be willing to spend most of your time on a plateau, to keep practicing even when you seem to be getting nowhere.” Does that hold true in the modern world/work?

Here is my rebuttal. In your professional life, how long can you stay in plateau when it comes to career development? In our modern world, we are beholden to the needs of our companies/employers, where there is a constant push for learning and implementing new skills. On top of that, you are compared to your peers and so that may cause frustration and disappointment if you have not “distinguished” yourself. Also, there is a time limit for everything. Is that a healthy feeling, perpetually being on a plateau? For example, learning music and earning money are two different things – staying on the plateau looks different between the two.

What are your thoughts? How do you overcome the “plateau” in your career development?