Personal Mastery... Selfish? LO17395

Joseph Voros (
Fri, 13 Mar 1998 10:47:49 +1000

Replying to LO17054 -- wrote:

> ... digging more into what's been written about Personal Mastery
> shows there's potentially more to it than a way to achieve narrow, selfish
> purposes.

Some three years ago, I undertook a personal development course called
"Mastery and Service" - five months, every Tuesday night 7pm until
usually after 3am ("we stop when we stop") and five *full* weekend
workshops, one per month. Rather an intense course; immensely
challenging, uncomfortable and richly rewarding.

The basic premise was that you need to attain personal Mastery before
you can be of full Service to others. "Mastery" here meant a wide range
of things, including understanding character and egoic structure,
empathic listening, concepts of projection and shadow, clarifying
personal vision, and very, very much more. The main point was to realise
when we were getting into our own "stuff" and to quickly get out of it
again -- to recognise when we were seeing current reality properly, or
when it was coloured by our own past experience; to develop the skill of
seeing ourselves acting out our stuff (and thus having awareness and a
choice), rather than being lost in the middle of the drama of it (what
Scott Peck, for example, has called the "observing ego.")

In the context of Learning Orgs, this suggests that personal Mastery is,
in some sense, a necessary condition for being able to give full Service
to others, un-contaminated by unspoken, covert neediness and
expectation, in order to attain an interdependence and synergy with
colleagues acting to achieve a common goal (one way of conceptualising a

In this thread, an earlier comment was about a group of people treating
Personal Mastery solely as a means of "getting what you want." They are
operating from a self-orientation alone ("I want"), while overlooking
the necessity of being able to also dis-engage egoic desires so that
pure Service can be given to something bigger than, and outside of,

So long as Personal Mastery is focussed upon solely as an end in itself,
rather than also as a means to building better relationships with
others, then it will suffer from what Covey calls the "personality

Ultimately, Mastery was about being the best we can be, so that we can
bring this excellence cleanly to bear in our relationships with others,
to the goals we seek to achieve together, and to our on-going growth and
support of others in theirs.


Dr Joseph Voros                             Melbourne, Australia

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