Excerpt from "5 Keys to Mastery" with George LeonardPosted November 04 2012
We are honored to be able to share with you "5 Keys to Mastery: Opening Doors to Lifelong Success" with the late great pioneer of the human potential movement, George Leonard. This inspirational program takes listeners through the five major elements of life mastery, and includes interviews with musical luminaries Carlos Santana and BB King, among others. Following is a transcribed excerpt of Leonard himself being interviewed about his thoughts behind this enlightening program.
George Leonard: I try to find something they are doing right first, and then say, “You could make it even better if…this”. And John Wooden -- you know he is known as the greatest coach of all time in basketball. Somebody in the New York Times Magazine did an analysis of his teachings. About 50% of the time he said they were doing something good. About 50% of the time he was correcting. Not saying that it was bad, but correcting. But you know there are a lot of coaches and they take that macho image, “You did that wrong! Can’t you get this right?” That’s not good teaching. Positive reinforcement and quick reinforcement, as quick as possible. Don’t make them wait. Of course, now if you are teaching creative writing you have to wait until you read it, and so forth. You make adjustments. I use a lot of sports examples because they are so clear.
Interviewer: A lot of what you’re saying does, I mean, you started out talking about parenting but a lot of these concepts do apply to parenting.
George Leonard: Absolutely. Yes. And the house should be a learning environment. It is. A place for exploration and a place for feedback from other human beings. Teachers we call them. Teachers.
Interviewer: That’s wonderful stuff. What is your definition of success along the path of mastery? Is there a place where… there can’t be a place where you stop?
George Leonard: No, you never stop. You never stop. It is your own feeling of satisfaction. You know, to write a really good paragraph, hey that’s good. And you know that lasts. You could read it years later and say, “Hey, how the hell did I write this?” You know? That’s nice. Or playing jazz, you’re improvising. That’s very interesting. You know, you do things you didn’t know you could do. That’s another criterion. If I can do something I didn’t know I could do -- and in jazz you could do it very quickly -- that’s very nice. It’s just intrinsic reinforcement. It’s not outside. It’s not so somebody will brag on you, although that’s not a bad idea, but that’s not the real joy in the juice of life. It’s how it feels inside. And you know. You know?
I’m very dedicated to the idea that potentially human beings… I don’t even think we’ve started to reach any kind of end to this… and I think it’s one of the greatest challenges that we have. I think on the other side of it, the failure of most people to achieve that potential, and the list goes all the way back. First of all, you’ve got to have enough food. People are starving in Africa. They cannot achieve their potential. It’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You’ve got to have air before you can breathe. You got to have just something very simple. You’ve got to have food. You’ve got to have some kind of community. And each of these you have to fulfill. But at the end of that, then you can go beyond anything that you thought you could do.
I’ve been really researching this for many, many years and I think that my magnum opus, my big book, it’s going to be the real big book on human potential and the tragedy of people who do not achieve what they could in their life. There is nothing more tragic to me, and this happened to me once, too -- I talked to this older person at the approach of death and this older person said, “I realize now I have wasted my life.” It’s very sad. So I think that… I really believe that a great deal of neurosis, uneasiness, nervousness, drug abuse, crime, and perhaps even war can be attributed to the failure of developing our potential. I think it is a matter of the utmost importance.