LEARNING Self-Mastery: Three Very Important Principles

Your strengths push you forward, but your weaknesses hold you back. It’s like going through life with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake.

“I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” — Abraham Lincoln

Written by Murray Johannsen. I welcome connections via LinkedIn or directly on this website. And DON’T MISS OUT on insightful content on our Linkedin feeds. Themes include: 21st Century Skills: What’s Needed and What’s Not; AI Savvy: Essential Skills For AI at Work; and Bootstrapping Your Dreams: Growing  Digital Business Skills.

Image by: Monica Yañez
Image by: Monica Yañez. This watercolor represents a Buddhist mandala as a symbol of the Self.

Self-improvement can occur within the Ego and the Unconscious.


“Be All The You Can Be” — Advertising Slogan, U.S. Army

It was the great Harvard psychologist William James who estimated the average person uses only 10% of our mental potential. Mankind’s greatest untapped resource does not lie under the oceans or hidden in the ground, it’s what should be accessed and cultivated between the ears.

“Greatness comes from doing many small things well. Individually, they are not very dramatic transactions. Together though, they add up.” — Edward S. Finkelstein

At some point, we need to step out on a new path and take a hard look at ourselves, be proud of our strengths pivot, and focus on vulnerabilities.

Self-mastery is about fixing weaknesses. This cannot be done by just reading textbooks or going to university classes.

To give you an example, at a university you can take a course on memory, but never take the actions that make your memory work better. This is a fundamental problem with many (but not all) degree programs.

He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still. — Lao Tzu

If you cannot manage yourself, you cannot manage others. Ignorance, inexperience, and a lack of skillful means lead to flawed execution. Plus personal weaknesses such as procrastination; being blind to one’s weaknesses; doing what’s urgent, but not important; are all part of a pattern that leads to failure.

The Untrained Mind Misfires

 “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” — Abraham Lincoln

The untrained mind is like a  powerful eight-cylinder engine. Six cylinders are unused. And the two the are frequently misfire.  If that weren’t bad enough. the driver typically has one foot on the gas, and one on the brake — at the same time. So it’s hard to get anywhere. It’s so bad that if you pointed out that someones acting defensively, they would get defensive; and wouldn’t know what you are talking about. ​All of these problems have a root cause — problems somewhere in the Ego or Unconscious.

One needs an Owners Manual. If you have a degree in clinical psychology, you have one. Good life coaches have them. Entrepreneurs need them. If you don’t yet have yours, keep the following principles in mind. 

Self-Mastery Principle 1: Develop Your Immature Ego

It's clear, the vast majority of people in life have forgotten these basic words, words said by Pythagoras, Plutarch, Socrates, and Thales. Also the words found at the entrance of the most famous of the ancient Greek temples:The Temple of Apollo at Delphi.
Know thyself — the words found at the entrance of the most famous of the ancient Greek temples: The Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Also attributed to Pythagoras, Plutarch, Socrates, and Thales.

The mind is like a car, it don’t’ go if you don’t know how to run it.

  • If you ask the average person, “What the major components of mind are, few could tell you.
  • If you ask them, “How to change a belief,” they won’t know. 
  • If you pointed out that they are acting defensively, they would get defensive; and still wouldn’t know what you are talking about.
  •      They might agree to change, but they don’t know how. 

All of these problems have as a root cause — a lack of understanding of how the mind really works. 

You can have a Ph.D. or master’s degrees and still have an immature Ego. Symptoms include:

  • Lack of impulse control,
  • Procrastination on the important things,
  • Not doing what you should do,
  • Uncontrolled negative emotions,
  • Flaring defense mechanisms,
  • Delusions, so many delusions, and
  • Arrested development (no, not the TV show)

I remember a few years ago doing a training program for a three partners who grow their business from the original three to 133. When it started, one person did the accounting, one did the engineering and the other did the accounting. Twenty-five years later is was still this way. The President was still functioning as an engineer, the CFO was thinking like a bookkeeper and the Director of Manufacturing was still most at home running a CNC machine.

“When I was a young boy I saw something beautiful near the farms’ tool shed. Asking my mom what it was, she said. “That’s a spider web.” How beautiful it was glistening in the sun. Then I saw something a fly; stuck, struggling, trapped — it could not escape.”   That fly reminded me of me. Years later I understood — my Ego was like that fly — tapped in the web of false and limiting beliefs. — M. Johannsen

What To Do

“Be All The You Can Be” — Advertising Slogan, U.S. Army

There are many mental techniques one can use. For example, it would not hurt to develop greater resilience and mental toughness.
You see it over and over — when the going get’s tough, most people quit.  

Self-Mastery Principle 2: Purify The Unconscious

You can’t change what you don’t know you don’t know. This painting is titled “Unconscious To Danger.”

As Freud and Jung and many other psychologists have pointed out, each of us has to deal with unconscious motivation — forces we typically lack unawareness of. 

Sometimes these complexes run bad habits and function independently of conscious control. For example, many smokers find the decision to buy cigarettes made without really thinking about it. The same phenomenon applies to drinking, overeating, and other habituated behaviors. Sometimes life installs bad “programs” in the unconscious. For example, a mother screams at a child in a moment of anger, “You will never amount to anything!” and installs insecurity.

What To Do

Modify the “Bad Programs

Life installs some bad programs into the unconscious, often when we are very young. For example, a mother speaking to a child in a moment of anger, “You will never amount to anything!” can contribute to insecurity that lasts through life. A father who cannot show love to the daughter, produces a woman who cannot find it in her relationships. Unfortunately, many of these programs are not easily changed.

Unify the Parts

There are parts of the mind that run almost as independent programs. This is not all bad, but sometimes is in not all good. Sometimes these complexes can run bad habits.

For example, many smokers find the decision to buy cigarettes largely unconsciousundefinedmade without really thinking about it. The same phenomenon applies to drinking, overeating and other habituated behaviors.

 Use Dream Interpretation

Different cultures have different interpretations of dreams. But one common theme in psychology is that dreams are messages from the unconscious.

Practice Insight Meditation 

Meditation has many uses. One of them? To increase conscious access to the unconscious. Most of the time, people connect with this individual to fix something going wrong in business. What begins as a business problem morphs into self-mastery issues. Questions? Drop me a line at: info@legacee.com

The mind is not as unified as one might think. There are boundaries between its different parts. It’s like there are two shores separated by water. On one shore there is the Ego, on the other shore there is the Unconscious. And for most people, there is no bridge between the two. To bridge the two, you have to set-up linkages.

One metaphor for communication between the two is the Ego is “up” and the Unconscious is “down.” Therefore a uplink is what we do to hear unconscious messages and a downlink is what you use to communicate to the unconscious. The Unconscious listens closely to the Ego but the reverse is not true.


I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.” — Vincent van Gogh

The mind is not as unified as one might think. There are boundaries between its different parts. It’s like there are two shores separated by water. On one shore there is the Ego, on the other shore there is the Unconscious. And for most people, there is no bridge between the two. To bridge the two, you have to set-up linkages.

Want to Nail Down a Path Through the Fog of Confusion?

The world changed in December of 2022 with the launch of ChatGPT. Whether you like it or not, businesses are employing AI in every industry and just about all jobs performed by those who went to college. 

Hundreds of millions of employees will find the way they do their work drastically changed. The same goes for entrepreneurs and business owners. 

Crystal ball held in a hand
Skills Mapping Is Process of That Matches Expertise and Skills to Dreams and Vision for a Better Future Image by Drew Beamer

There is a way to map a course into the future — it’s called SKILL MAPPING.

TAKE ACTION: Get Started by taking  a Crash Course Or by Developing Your Vision.

“A competitive world has two possibilities for you. You can lose. Or, if you want to win, you can change.”  — Lester Thoreau, Dean, Sloan School of Management, M.I.T., 60 Minutes, February 7, 1988 

Craft Your Vision: Get Future Ready


Don’t be a bit player. Get future ready and map our the roles you need to play on the stage of business. 

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