Tag Archive | Mastery

The Pause

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor Frankl)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space only if you create it. This is a practice. Brian Johnson calls it Response-ability. I call it Creating Space.”

“How do you create space?”

“There’s a quote I love by Josh Waitzkin:

The small things are the big things.

It’s such a beautiful and critical principle, and most people think they can wait around for the big moments to turn it on. But if you don’t cultivate “turning it on” as a way of life in the little moments – and there are hundreds of times more little moments than big – then there’s no chance in the big moments.

This quote expresses a key aspect of the practice – and of Mastery more generally:

Practice in the little moments of life. Practice when you don’t need it so that you are prepared when you do need it.

You create space by pausing. I call this aspect of the practice, The Pause. What this means is creating brief micro-pauses throughout the day. Think of them as metaphoric ‘break-points’.

To practice is to remember to practice. The more often you do it, the more often you’ll remember to do it. It’s a positive feedback loop.

Surround yourself with reminders.

Put written reminders in various places in your environment.

Turn things in the environment and experiences into reminders. (Anchoring)

For instance, a great thing to anchor pausing to is the transitional space/time between activities.”

“What do you fill the pauses with?”

“Start by practicing only The Pause.

Pause, breathe, and smile.

Stay with it as long as you need until you deeply internalize it. Think of it as the seed. Once the seed has been planted, you can grow it into the next stage of the practice.”



Two things in life make you feel alive: Growing and Giving. (Tony Robbins)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are life-games?”

“I think of my life as a game. I call it The Beautiful Game [<link; short read]. It’s a modular game made up of a myriad interlocking pieces – each piece a game. 

I call the Beautiful Game and the games that make it up, life-games.”

“What are the most important life-games?”

Growing and Giving.

The Beautiful Game is made up of two big games: The Inner Game and The Outer Game. The Inner Game is the Game of Growing; The Outer Game is the Game of Giving.

The Game of Growing is the game of becoming the best you can possibly be. It is made up of two games: The Game of Wisdom and The Game of Mastery.

The Game of Giving is the game of using your Gifts in greatest service to the world, of being an exceptional value provider – the highest expression of Love. Another name for it is The Game of Contribution.

All these are daily games. In their compounded effect, they shape the well-lived life.”

Life Patterns

What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits. (Carl Jung)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What current aspects of your life are an evolution of previous ones?”

“I’ve identified three major aspects:

Moving as a child

I love moving.

I used to love moving as a child. Running, jumping, climbing, creative physical challenges… I realize I was doing Parkour long before I knew Parkour existed. Discovering Parkour was actually a rediscovery. Parkour is an evolution of my playful childhood adventures, and something I see myself doing forever. As I like to say, ‘Traceur forever’.

Soul Quest: Parkour Mastery
Identity: MoverTraceurAthlete
Mantra: Move beautiful.

My gaming years

I love playing.

Video games have been an addiction for me for many years. Many people play games as a temporary distraction from the real world. For me, they were my reality. I lived in imaginary fantastic worlds, and the real world was a temporary distraction.

I left video games behind and finally discovered the game of my life: my own life. I call it The Beautiful Game [<link; medium read]. The game is a meta-game, which is made up of a myriad lower-order games. I engage in it as both a Player and a Designer.

Soul Quest: Playful Living – Life as Play
Identity: Dani, the Ever-Playful
Mantra: Play is destiny.

Thinking as passion

I love thinking.

I lived in my head most of my life. At some point, I jokingly remarked that if I were to visually represent what the world looked like for me, it would have been mostly empty space and curves of attractive women.

I’ve been playing with ideas for a long time – one of my favorite pastimes. I disregarded other areas of my life, but in the process I got pretty good at it.

The next level in my evolution as a Thinker is meta-thinking, a concept I created to describe the (practical) process of creating conceptual tools and deconstructing meaning. It also involves balancing Thinking with Awareness. I realized that in order to master Thinking I also need to master Non-Thinking, disengaging the mind.

Soul Quests: Thinking Mastery – becoming a Super ThinkerArtful Living – Life as Art
Identity: ThinkerLife-Artist, Explorer and Creator of Meaning
Mantra: Think beautiful.”

Thinker 7

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“If you were to express one thing as art – x as Art –, that thing which best captures who you are, what would it be?”

Thinking as Art.

Or, expressed as a directive,

Think beautiful.

Everything in our life is an outgrowth of our thinking. 

Thinking shapes reality. 

Thinking, and by extension, our beautiful BodyMind is the most powerful tool we will ever possess. 

I’ve dedicated my life to mastering it.”

Move beautiful

Seek perfection in your locomotion and training to achieve an exceptional quality and standard in your movements, regardless of what they are. (Chris Rowat)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What does move beautiful mean to you?”

“Move meaningfully.
Make movement meaningful.
Make movement identity. (Mover)

Move lovingly. (Loving Care, Embodiment)
Connect with yourself through your movement. (Centering)
Move serenely. (Peace)
Move joyfully.

Move gratefully. (Loving Gratitude)
Celebrate your beautiful body with every movement. (BodyMind)

Move playfully. (Loving Play, Fun, Movement Puzzles)
Move creatively. (Improv)
Make stuff up.

Move more. (Quantity, Movement Snacks)
Move continuously. (Perpetual Motion Machine)
Think while moving.

Move better. (Quality)
Move mindfully. (Loving Presence)
Move gracefully.
Move purposefully.
Every movement a meditation.

Move in all ways. (Variety)
Move holistically.
Move your whole body, not just parts of it.
Move all joints through their full range of motion.

Move opportunistically.
Move anywhere.
Adapt to your environment.

Move comfortably. (Relaxation, Stretching)
Move uncomfortably. (Challenge, Learning)

Move funny.
Move seriously.

Move with others. (Collective Play, Loving Connection)

Move on music.
Move on your inner music.

Among other things.”

On Thinking and Mastery

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the ONE Thing you want to master in this life?”


Josh Waitzkin once said in an interview:

I love Learning more than anything.

Similarly, I would say:

I love Thinking more than anything. Learning is a part of it.”

“What does mastering Thinking mean?”

“I’m learning that as I go. My map so far looks like this:

My Thinking Mastery map

I’m using Alan Watkins’s model of peak performance, which we’ve talked about [<link; medium length] a while back. Remember his peak performance pyramid:

Emotion (Energy in motion)

Mastering Thinking requires mastering both Physiology and Feeling.

Thinking Mastery = Physical Mastery + Emotional Mastery + Mental Mastery

Physiology is the basis for Energy generation. This is essential because Thinking is very energy intensive.

Feeling is also essential because it allows you to be able to actually use your Thinking in situations of stress.

We can think of these as metaphorical Obstacles to Thinking. Two more significant obstacles are Cognitive Biases, our natural tendency to make systematic errors of judgment, and Coping Mechanisms, dysfunctional ways of dealing with past traumas.

Another important aspect of it is Balance. Thinking for me has a tendency to displace Sensory Experience and Observation as it’s very inner focused.”

“So it’s a balancing of Attention.”


As concerns Thinking itself, we can think of it in terms of Input and Output.

The Input is the formation of persistent structures in the mind. This means the acquisition, creation, and mastery of a number of what I call ‘tools of the mind‘ that allow you to manage complexity and carry out increasingly complex operations.

In terms of Output, I’m focusing on three aspects: Value Creation, Transfer [<link; short], and Antifragility.

Everything that’s colored brown on the map are skills.

This is a lifelong project, and I’ll undoubtedly be refining the map over the years.”

Thinker 5

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What do you want to master in this life?”

“People use their Thinking to master various things.

I want to master Thinking itself.

“If you were to choose a Magic [the Gathering] card to illustrate this idea, what would it be?”

Mind Unbound:

On Self-Actualization and Mastery

The study of forms leave forms (Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What does Mastery look like in the context of Self-Actualization?”

“One way to think of it is by analogy with Chess.

Over the years, the Chess-Master accumulates a vast amount of chess-related knowledge and integrates it so profoundly, that it allows him to intuitively find the best move in any situation in an instant.

In the same way, over the years, the Sage accumulates a vast amount of practical knowledge and integrates it so profoundly, that it allows him to intuitively make the best decision in any situation in an instant.”

On Systems and Mastery

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I seek Mastery.”

“How deep is the idea, and is it a lived idea?”

“What do you mean?”

“A lived idea is an idea that is reflected in your actions, an idea that you consistently and relentlessly act on. A lived idea is a PRACTICE.

In terms of content, I like to distinguish between deep and shallow ideas.

Most ideas are compound ideas, that is, they are aggregates of simpler ideas.

Using a different mental model, most ideas are systems of ideas. I call them idea-systems. The elegance, interconnectedness, and functionality of the subsystems that make up an idea-system is what gives the idea depth.

By identifying the subsystems of an idea-system, you can more effectively translate the idea into action.”

“What does your idea of Mastery look like?”

“In the context of the Beautiful Game, I like to think of Mastery as a Soul Quest (beautiful concept I know from Brian Johnson). One of my brightest guiding stars.

The name of my Path of Mastery is Parkour.
Another name of for it is Self-Actualization.

By Mastery I mean Self-Mastery, which has two components:
Mental/Physical/Emotional Mastery, and
Values Mastery (Mastery of my Values).

One essential component of the former is what I call Heroic Strength/Antifragility, the ideal being nothing short of Obstacle Immunity.

As concerns the latter, the subsystems I’m focusing on at the moment are the following:

Presence Mastery
Focus Mastery

Movement Mastery

Perception Mastery
Meaning Mastery
Observation/Listening Mastery

Creativity Mastery
Questioning Mastery

Improvisation Mastery

Connection Mastery
Communication Mastery

Each and every one of these is a deep lived idea in itself.

I start and end every single day by reading them, as a reminder.”

I am the Cat

At Parkour Randezvous 2018 in London

I am the Cat.

This little mantra is an idiosyncratic-tool, a tool tailored to my specific circumstances.

I love cats.

For me, cats are grace embodied. As a Parkour practitioner, I find the precision and efficiency with which they move and traverse obstacles beautiful and inspiring in equal measure. Most interestingly, that beauty is purely functional, with no extraneous embellishments. For cats, what we call “beauty” is simply the norm, the baseline.

Cats are my teachers.

On my Path of Mastery, my aim is to move with the grace, precision and efficiency of the cat ALL DAY, EVERY DAY.

To BECOME the Cat.

The mantra is meant to constantly remind me of this aim, and it’s the equivalent of (an identity-affirming) “That’s like me!” whenever I manage to embody it.