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Frosty Hesson and the Pursuit of Mastery

Frosty Hesson and the Pursuit of Mastery

Jimmy Guterman
May 15th, 2015

You never know where inspiration will come from. When you’re developing as a professional — or as a person — part of what you’re trying to develop is mastery, and the feeling of accomplishment and confidence that comes with mastery. Recently, our Matt Saiia spoke about mastery at a client event with legendary surfer Frosty Hesson. We caught up with Frosty shortly after the event (which was scribed expertly by our Kris Henry; click the image above to see it at a better size). Hesson had some trenchant, unexpected advice on where mastery comes from, and we’d like to share some of the conversation.

How is visualization an important part of mastery?

Visualization is changing and controlling time. So many variables, coming so fast, it takes time. In sports as in business, there is a huge learning curve. People can only operate at the pace they have been exposed to. They can change and adapt but need to be exposed to a  environment that they can comprehend. If a runner gets on a bicycle and rides, especially downhill, everything moves by so much faster than they’re used to. The input or evaluation process needs to speed up or things get missed. We have the capacity to process faster but need to experience a challenging event before we can get there. Visualization removes one from risk and negative exposure. It gives you safety and control. It’s important for improvement and progression.

If you’re trying to master something, you’re going to experience fear. How do you get past it?

Fear is our safety control mechanism. That’s a good thing. But what needs to be asked is “What are your afraid of?” What is the basis of your fear? Are you in shape? In over your head? There is only one person that can answer those questions: You. Many people are afraid to ask the question because they do not want to face the answer. They would have to go inside themselves and resolve issues. That is why I try and explain “I do not walk with fear.” I confront what I find fearful and resolve what it is I find disturbing or unsettling. Then I can live my life with a smile, happy with who I have chosen to be.

How do you make sure you’re all in?

Only you can know if you are all in. Did you give something your all? Or did you hold back? We are complex beings with so much personal judgement, often negative. We are our own worst critics. How can we get past our limits? We have to find our limits and then find reasons to go beyond them. It’s a continuing process. But why it is so important not to compare ourselves to someone else? We need to understand our best needs to be from each of us. When you compare, it becomes so easy to feel short of our best efforts. How did the best in the world become the best? They sought self-improvement. How can I do better? It is when we are asking these questions that we are becoming all in.

How can you give yourself honest self-evaluation?

If you are cheating and you come up against a true challenge of yourself, you will find you failed yourself in your preparation. If you are not ready, the result is often not good. People forget they choose or control their life to a degree. And so often a person does not anticipate that a reaction will come from an action they chose. We do have choices in life if we anticipate. 

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