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Personal Mastery

Recently, I engaged in a project that caused me angst. As I wrapped up the most recent phase, I examined the roots of my worry. As I reflected, I found myself thinking about learning organizations and the concept of personal mastery.

Senge (2006) defined personal mastery as going “beyond competence and skills, though it is grounded in competence and skills. It goes beyond spiritual unfolding or opening, although it requires spiritual growth. It means approaching one’s life as a creative work, living life from a creative as opposed to reactive viewpoint” (p. 131).

According to Senge there are several basic characteristics which help define personal mastery.

“special sense of purpose that lies behind [an individual’s] visions and goals.” This requires me to continuously ask and re-ask the question, “Why do I do what I do? What difference does it make in the lives of others?” This requires a mindfulness, awareness, and reflection that in our busy lives we sometimes lose track of.

“learn how to perceive and work with the forces of change.” The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (1999) described transformation as gradual (p. 43). To perceive and work with the forces of change, I need patience and an open mind. I must find balance between my words and actions to influence the change I want in the world.

“deeply inquisitive, committed to seeing reality more and more accurately.” This is about technical competence and information that goes with it, but expands beyond. This inquisitiveness broadens to gather information about the relational nature of our world. As a learner, it is this relational nature I must be attentive to. Who and what am I in relation with?

‘feel connected to others and life itself.” I enter into stewardship as a learner and educator. It calls to mind: “We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children” (Ancient Indian Proverb).

“feel as if they are part of a larger creative process, which they can influence but cannot unilaterally control.” Everyone finds their voice in a new paradigm of leadership. Leadership is earned rather than given.

“live in a continual learning mode. They never arrive.” Learning is not merely technical. It includes learning about the world we live in, the relationships we engage in, and the relationship we have with our self.

Each of these quotes can be found in The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization by Peter Senge on p. 132.

The gentle rain permeates the soil of my soul.  A seed that has lain deeply in the earth for many years just smiles (Thich Nhat Hanh, 1999).

About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

3 responses »

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    MAN, you are interesting, Ivon. Enormously interesting.

    I love you sharing with us, of this. I’m not so schooled. My dad used to say not to worry about not going to University because “Yer been to the schoola hard knocks”. Given a choice, I’d have taken University instead – philosophy, and the likes of what you’ve studied here.

    Quality post, Ivon. I’ve decided to mention that Thich Nhat Hanh quote in a post I just decided, a few seconds ago, to do tonight. I’ll link it to you. Thank you for inspiring me.


    • Again, thank you for the lovely comments Noeleen. I have been to university four times. The first time was really not to go to university. I played ice hockey, drank beer, and partied. After a couple of years, I thought I could do those things and make a living.

      I was fortunate that I met a person who shared my desire to go back to school and try make a small difference in the world each day.

  2. Pingback: WARNING: sexual content (genuine warning) | WordsFallFromMyEyes

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