Success versus Mastery

On NPR Sunday morning sometimes I hear snippets from the TED Radio Hour.  Today’s snippet had me fascinated enough to come home and listen to the full TED talk.   Sarah Lewis – Ted Talk – was talking about Near Wins.  But the snippet I heard that struck the chord I needed striking at that particular moment was about success and mastery.   She was talking about archers when using this example, but she said, “Success means hitting that 10-ring, Mastery is knowing that it means nothing if they can’t do it again and again.” 

Weight Watchers has a goal weight.  We all get to set our own goal weight – usually within a healthy weight range, but sometimes higher depending on circumstances.   But I never liked the term “goal” weight.  Because growing up learning that hitting the goal, scoring a goal, making a goal – is the end.  The goal line is at the end of the field – not in the middle.  I achieved my goal weight – but is that my goal?  No – my goal is to die at 99 years old in a size 4 dress…. So I’m obviously not there.  Maybe we should call it a life weight. 

Success versus Mastery.   I achieved a goal weight.  That would be success, right?   Mastery means I can do it again and again – week after week – month after month and so on.  Although I’m *pretty* good at maintaining, it’s definitely hard work and not something I can do only if I’m motivated.  I’m not motivated day in and day out.  So I’m not a master of it yet – or maybe I am, but I can’t rest on those laurels. 

When I first started losing weight, I was ready for deprivation (my past experience with weight loss). I ate a lot of frozen dinners. I had trouble getting in enough fruits and veggies. I needed to FIT IN my sweets. I didn’t drink enough plain water (still struggle with that). I ate mostly white grains, but in lesser quantity than before. I struggled with getting activity. I still ate fast food. I still lost weight. I still was successful, because I was doing better eating-wise and exercise-wise than I was while I was gaining.   Success

Over time, I’ve made changes. I now love vegetables and look for new ones to try and new ways to fix them. I added in whole grains. I will still occasionally go eat fast food, but it’s no longer a habit.  Success

My point is that all of us are somewhere on the continuum. We don’t turn over a new leaf the moment we begin a diet plan.  No one expects us to change everything overnight or eat only whole grains (just an example).  General good health guidelines help us get there, but no one gets there overnight. We make mistakes. We fall down. We have a light-bulb moment when we realize that maybe a banana keeps us fuller than a 100-calorie pack.  Success

I’m a work in progress.   I’m a Near Win, according to Sarah Lewis.  I still have a love affair with chocolate, wine, and bacon.  I know I can’t have potato chips (My name is Marci and I have a chip disorder.)  Mastery is the repetition of those successes.  It’s not quitting.  It’s learning from those moments and repeating the good ones.  I’m getting there.  I’m repeating the successes more than I’m not.  It’s truly a journey.    What age do you think you’ll live to?  Well… between NOW and THEN is the time to work on your mastery!




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