As we continue our look into the habits of the Masters, I find myself reflecting on how rarely we see these qualities in those who crave the public spotlight – to include most politicians and entertainers. The path to mastery is often a lonely pursuit requiring long hours of training and sacrificing many pleasures as one remains focused on a narrow lane of highly important tasks. Further, as one progresses toward mastery their ego is tempered with humility, and the spotlight is not very alluring. Interesting isn’t it?
In this section of the Habits of the Masters article I would like to look at the habit of discernment. Discernment can be defined as “keenly selective judgment and good taste.” This is not easy to achieve, given how tricky our minds can be and how much information is available to us to begin with. Let’s see if we can see how Masters develop discernment.
The Master starts to learn the art of discernment but not trusting his mind. This means that they avoid faulty thinking and start to cultivate right thinking through trial and error. The mind has five ways it “thinks:”
- Direct perception – induction
- Accessing stored memory
- Analysis – deduction
The Master will work on all five of these simultaneously. Enhancing our direct perception is done through concentration and meditation exercises. Intuition and expanded awareness is the fruit of this labor. Accessing stored memory accurately is done by practicing and drilling memory – such as the Keep in Memory Games, practicing to remember names, etc. Strengthening analytical abilities come through focused use of the mind in problem solving, and the use of mental models such as OODA loop, GROW, SMEAC.
It is also a good idea to avoid common mental trickery. Charlie Munger, co-chair of Berkshire Hathaway has some great thoughts on this. The last chapter of “Poor Charlie’s Almanac, the Wit and Wisdom of Charlie Munger” has a litany of “tendencies” that the mind veers toward that obscure judgment. In his great book “The Tipping Point” Malcolm Gladwell discusses a few powerful tricks the mind plays that prove that common sense, is rather uncommon!
Creating an idea that did not exist before is an extremely valuable skill. Creating is done in the subconscious mind through the practice of rich visualization. It requires us to see in our mind new patterns, new ideas and new distinctions, then to bring these out into the world in a form that makes sense. Entrepreneurs, artists, musicians all see their work in their minds before putting them to paper or canvas. Finally, though dreaming is thought of as random and uncontrollable, Masters learn to use this powerful mental state to solve problems they can’t get a grasp on in the waking state.
All of these methods of enhancing our thinking lead to greater discernment, greater ability to ascertain truth, and apply wisdom in our lives.
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Mark Divine is founder and CEO of US Tactical, inc. which operates SEALFIT, NavySEALs.com and US CrossFit. He started his athletic career as a collegiate swimmer and rower, then competitive tri-athlete and martial artist before joining the Navy in 1990 as an officer. Mark graduated as honor-man of his SEAL training class (170) and served on active duty for nine years. Mark retired as a Commander from the Navy Reserves in 2011.
At NavySEALs.com and now SEALFIT, CDR Divine has trained and mentored thousands of Navy SEAL and other Special Ops candidates to succeed in the most demanding military training programs in the world. His success rate with SEALFIT in preparing candidates is unrivaled.