Self-Mastery: Become the Best Version of Yourself

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The 5 AM Club" by Robin Sharma. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How do you develop self-mastery? What is keeping you from being your best self and living the life of your dreams?

Self-mastery is having control of your behavior and tendencies, and it is something that very few of us possess. Attaining it requires working through the hard times and coming out the other side satisfied that you’ve sincerely earned your newfound peace.

Keep reading to learn how to overcome the barriers to self-mastery, according to Robin Sharma.

Self-Mastery: Become Your Best Self

You were born to be a titan—to discover your truest talent, live your wildest dreams, climb the ranks of success, and leave a legendary legacy. You have everything you need inside you to be your best self, but to do it, you must let go of your mediocre self first. Change requires struggle, but if you’re brave enough to accept the challenge of reaching your professional, personal, and spiritual goals, the struggle will reap great rewards. 

In this section, you will receive insights that help ground you in your warrior spirit and honor your poetic soul. You have nothing to fear when you’re on a journey of self-mastery. The only thing to fear is a lack of awareness and effort. Follow the advice in this section to cultivate the fortitude you need to grow into your greatness. 

The Barriers to Self-Mastery

Your unique purpose in life is to use the creative genius you’ve been given and develop it in a way that feeds your life and that of others. But you live in a world in which average effort and results are the norm. This ordinary environment helps to limit your ideas about who you are and what you’re capable of because you don’t feel extraordinary. When you realize that what you believe about yourself is based on fears, doubts, and excuses, you’ll be better equipped to move forward in power. 

Too many people are stuck. They work in unfulfilling jobs, worry about money and responsibilities, and long for relief from the tediousness of daily life. This relief places us on a path of desiring insignificant things that create instant gratification. Living this way is the antithesis to self-mastery and it’s not truly living; It’s just routine and uninspired. 

Perhaps you’ve experienced tragedy or strife, situations where you felt let down or hurt. You may have felt lost and alone or like a failure. When these events and feelings occurred, the creative genius inside of you started to diminish, as well as your fortitude to keep moving forward. But pain and suffering are not the antitheses of mastery. Your past doesn’t have to preclude a beautiful future if you open your wounded heart to the possibilities of love and fortune in your life. 

You’re stronger than you know, and wherever you are right now is exactly where you need to be to learn from your life lessons and grow. Hard times are simply moments when your fear outweighs your belief in yourself. When you push through those fears and recognize that each wrong step along your path is actually a right step toward your destiny, you’ll feel your gifts awaken inside and carry you forward. 

Having dreams and acting on them are two different things, and the latter is not easy. If it was, everyone would be living out their heart’s desires. You have to do the work, and part of that work is removing distractions that hold you back. 

What Distracts You

We’ve become complacent as a society, seeking ways to make life easier and settling for cheap thrills. We don’t live with intention, and we are soft, fragile, and feeble because of it. We flake on commitments, break promises, and give up when things get hard. We have no patience for struggle and believe that obstacles indicate failure. We believe we are who we have become and are not capable of real change. 

The problem is that you, like the rest of us, have lost your sense of childhood wonder. When you were little, you understood the pleasure of living. You chased fireflies at night, stargazed, daydreamed, and played for hours in the sun. Then, you grew up, and real life suffocated that youthful boldness and vigor for life. You lost hope in the dreams you once had and accepted an ordinary life. You gave up creativity for impulsivity and productivity for passivity. 

Technology has advanced to a stage in which you’re connected to your electronic devices like life support. You take selfies, play games, watch hours of television, and pass judgment on photos of food and social activities. You throw out lazy opinions and engage in childish arguments in cyberspace. You buy things you can’t afford to fill holes in your life and pretend that posting pictures of your life is the same as living. You’re so busy keeping yourself busy, you no longer remember what it means to have a direction that drives your behavior. 

If you can leave behind the distractions of empty technological pursuits, easy pleasures, and lackluster thoughts, you will begin to reorganize your life to support decency, benevolence, and behavior that fills you with peace and prosperity. 

Overcome the Barriers to Self-Mastery

You will feel the most challenged when you’re most ready for change. Your true strength of character resides in difficulties. You tap into the parts of you that are special, inspired, and creative when you suffer. True happiness is working through the hard times and coming out the other side satisfied that you’ve sincerely earned your newfound peace. And when you finally find your strength and heal your relationship with yourself, the rest of your life will fall into place

All great people had to overcome adversity to become their best. Miles Davis pushed through what was expected of him to create his own unique sound. Rosa Parks suffered abuse and humiliation on her path to changing the world. Stephen King was rejected time and again before he broke through with his novel Carrie, a manuscript he tossed in the garbage at first. Your biggest successes are consequences of your greatest discomfort. Lean toward your fears and insecurities to land in your universe of possibilities. 

Create an Environment for Greatness

Your environment influences your outlook and capacity for productivity. Make your environment one where greatness is welcomed. 

  • Surround yourself with people who inspire you and bring joy to your life. 
  • Eat food that is high quality and enriches your body. 
  • Read materials that educate you and help you grow in understanding and empathy. 

Your perspective on life is shaped by the things you include in your life, and when those things impact you positively, you’re more likely to be inspired to implement positive behavior. 

Let go of your ego, façade, and fear so you can reach authentic brilliance. The first step is to become open to that authentic brilliance. In this space, you start to appreciate the beauty around you every day, find gratitude for the blessings you’ve been granted, and find value in a quiet mind. You stop being a “drama mama,” or someone who only sees the bad and relishes in having something to complain about. The moment you open your heart to greatness, life will give you the lessons that allow you to achieve true self-mastery.

Self-Mastery: Become the Best Version of Yourself

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  • What the Victory Hour is and how it can change your life
  • Why an early morning routine activates your creative and productive potential
  • Why the first hour after you wake up is your most productive

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