OntheGoAthlete #5 — Mastery

How to relentlessly improve at your craft

Hey — Edgar here.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the process of skill development. Given my career is focused on building and growing tech startups, I’m constantly thinking about how to improve as a marketer and level up my toolkit. 

In the sports world, Kobe Bryant is someone who I try to emulate, as his work ethic and approach to improving his game was world renowned. 

So in this week’s edition of the OntheGoAthlete newsletter, we’ll dive into his “mamba mentality” and how to apply it to become a master in your chosen field. 

The mamba mentality

Kobe Bryant was known for his relentless work ethic. His way of life, coined as the “mamba mentality” describes a mindset for constant self-improvement in the pursuit of your highest potential in life. 

For him, that meant constantly working on his game. He spent hours in the gym every day working on his foot work, ball handling and shooting. Then he would come back later to the weight room to work on his body and repeat the cycle the next day.

As startup founders, operators or high performers, his mindset presents a framework for improving in any field. To me, it starts with identifying your craft, developing that craft on a daily basis and establishing a path towards mastery.

Let’s break down each one of those steps so you can bring the “mamba mentality” to your work and everyday life. 

Identifying your craft

The first step to mastery is identifying your craft. This process of self discovery is unique for everyone, and takes time to truly identify.

When reflecting on this for yourself, I find 3 sets of questions helpful:

  1. What skill do I need to master to succeed over the course of my career?

  2. What am I naturally good at or what do I find easy that others find difficult?

  3. What do my friends & family ask me for help with?

The first one puts things in perspective. It shows that if you’re able to master that craft, you’ll be able to achieve your long term goals. This will serve as motivation when times get tough.

The second question leans on your individual strengths. Drawing from our last issue, this should give you context on what activities actually give you energy or come to you naturally. Leaning on skills that give you energy will allow you to establish a competitive advantage, as you’ll be able to master them with relative ease compared to your peers.

The last question helps clarify the other two. Everyone has something unique that they’re already providing to the world, whether they realize it or not. Asking your family and friends what they seek you out for help with can bring things to your mind that you never considered, because you may not even realize the value you’ve already been providing to those around you.

Once you’ve identified what you want to work on, the next step is establishing a process for developing it, which comes from learning how to learn in the first place.

Developing your craft

Developing your craft starts off with “learning how to learn”, understanding the steps you need to take to improve at your chosen skill. I divide learning into 3 types: theory based learning, relationship based learning and project based learning.

Theory based learning

Theory based learning is what typically taught in higher learning institutions and universities. It includes reading books, listening to podcasts or participating in courses. The advantage to this type of learning is that it provides a framework for new situations, giving you mental models for approaching different problems.

Relationship based learning

Relationship based learning is gained by interacting with other people. This includes conferences, 1:1 calls or formal mentorship. This method is great for learning trade secrets, getting access to information that isn’t available online and laying out steps to overcome challenges that others faced along the way.

Project based learning 

Project based learning crystallizes your skills through practical experience. This comes from “doing the job” itself, working on side projects or consulting for other businesses. But this can feel overwhelming at times if you’ve never actually done the task before. Breaking down projects into smaller chunks can allow you to focus on learning one specific aspect of a skill and mastering it before moving onto the next.

Putting it into Practice

Developing your craft combines all three methods. Exposing yourself to information and people is a great starting point, but true learning comes from testing different approaches, experiencing failure and establishing new strategies based on results. 

Let’s use marketing as an example to put this into practice. If you want to learn how to become a great content marketer, you can start by building a website and personal blog for yourself. This will give you a strong foundation in understanding how to write compelling content, design landing pages and use no-code tools to publish the site.

Your next challenge will be to get visibility to your content, so you can dive into topics like SEO, keyword research or distribution tactics. With your newfound skills, you can offer to build websites for colleagues, or consult other companies on their content strategy. Each time you hit a roadblock, you can seek out resources like YouTube Videos and courses, or reach out to marketers through Linkedin or Twitter to get advice.

The key is to make your learning approach as concrete as possible. Each week, set a goal for the skill you want to develop and the steps you’ll take to acquire it. 

For our content marketing example, a given week could involve the following goals:

  1. Publish one piece of content for my personal blog

  2. Complete the Hubspot Inbound Marketing online course

  3. Reach out to 10 content marketers on Linkedin and book 2 calls to get feedback

The same strategy applies if you’re working a full time job. Simply outline the skills you want to learn, establish a plan of action and execute relentlessly.

Next Steps

The process of mastery is a journey. It’ll be frustrating at times and you’ll face challenges along the way. But it’s also be one of the most rewarding things you can experience.

So if you’re starting off in a new field, building a side project or looking to level up at work, keep things simple. Improve 1% every day. 

That’s the mamba mentality.


Tools & Resources

Every person we see as successful started off at the same place. Mastery by Robery Greene breaks down the exact steps necessary to master any field through the lens of renowned contributors to society like Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin and Leonardo da Vinci. 

Check out the Book


Quote of the Week

“ You have to work hard in the dark to shine in the light” - Kobe Bryant


That’s it for this week! If you enjoyed this issue, leave a comment below, and if there’s a topic you want to see, just let me know! Hit reply or shoot me a DM on Twitter @iamedgarbrown to get in touch.

Trust the process,

Edgar