Achieving Mastery

Posted on 06/19/09 11 Comments

Last weekend Lynda and myself went to a 4 day Tony Robbins workshop. Talk about intense!  50 hours of learning between the hours of 1PM Thursday and 6PM on Sunday, it was complete immersion and didn’t leave much time for sleeping or eating. However it was time well spent, I can’t say enough about it. If you get the chance, do yourself a favour and go to his “Unleash the Power Within” workshops. I think his next one is in San Jose, California.

Tony Robbins
Tony Robbins

I have lots to share with you about what went on (such as  walking across an 8′ long bed of hot coals (over 1500 degree) in our bare feet!). But today I would like to share Tony’s insight into mastery. He believes that the keys to achieving a “mastery” level at anything, lie in these 3 points.

1. Find a model. Success leaves clues. Find someone that is not just good, not just excellent, but outstanding in the field of your interest. Someone that has already achieved the results you desire, not just once but multiple times. Find this person, then model yourself after them. You can compress decades of learning into days if you seek out the right person to model yourself after and mimic what they do.

2.Total Immersion. Don’t just dabble but immerse yourself in their teachings. This is the best way to learn a language isn’t it?  You want to learn great Italian, you move to Italy (doesn’t that sound like fun:)).  Learning only through a weekly lesson or the occasional private lesson will unnecessarily extend your learning process.

3. Spaced repetition. Walk away and then come back. If you are constantly on top of what you are trying to learn you lose your perspective. But a return trip to work with your model of mastery will unlock the clues to your own long term success.

This is very much like our agility training program. We start with puppy camp and move from that to skills etc until you are working at the handling camps. Each camp gives you the four day immersion that takes you closer to mastery (yes I will post the progressions for all of you).

For a long time I used to be frustrated by the fact that our “weekly” students  never excelled in agility the way the ones that came to Say Yes for our multi-day Camps.  But think about it. When you are at a 4 day workshop you get over 30 hours of learning. Those 30 hours will never translate into 30 weeks of 1 hour classes because there will always be the need for repetition. So each week 10-15 minutes of the class will be spent reviewing what was previously taught. So now that makes those 30 classes 25% longer or close to 40 weeks of classes.

When I have a student at a camp I can say on day three, “remember what I said on day one. . .” If I was speaking to a “weekly” student it would be an equivalent of saying “remember what I told you 7 months ago?” I am sure you can see how the concept would not be ingrained as thoroughly in the weekly student as the multi-day camper that has been immersed in it.

Now I admit there are advantages to weekly classes where the student has the opportunity to go home and absorb the material for 7 days. I know there are times when students at our camps are trying to take in all that we teach and feel as if they are trying to get a sip of water from a fire hose.

However speaking from my own experience, I have to agree with Tony Robbins,  the pathway to mastery starts with immersion and modeling yourself after a master.  I am very grateful for Tony Robbins, I have been a fan for many years and can’t believe it took me so long to finally go a hear him in person.


  1. Liz says:
    Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 5:45pm

    I begrudgingly attended at Tony Robbins semiar for work about 18 yrs ago…and ended up NOT wanting to leave the auditorium…and when I did, I wanted to set the world on fire! He has always been very motivating, and inspiring.
    It was great seeig you and having your enthusiam at our NW Regional!


  2. Lisa says:
    Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 8:11am

    This was quite insightful. It never occurred to go and see a motivational speaker. What a neat idea!


  3. Gail says:
    Monday, June 22, 2009 at 3:24pm

    Yup…ditto on what Andrea said 🙂

    I found my model
    I’m pretty much immersed in it as far as I can get at this point
    I return to Say Yes to learn everything I can, jam my brain chock full of new ideas & training solutions to take it all home & work on it until my next Say Yes Camp!

    I’m grateful for you, Susan. For your inspiration that you share with us on a daily basis via your blog, newsletters, emails, twitter posts, etc.

    Gail & the ‘boys’
    Duncan, Teddy, Muggy & Speedy


  4. Krystal says:
    Monday, June 22, 2009 at 1:13am

    I love this its just great! But, number 2 is Total Immersion and im only 16 so i dont have a chance to go to as manny classes as i want or to go to or all the seminars or camps that i want or to move near my models to be close to get “Total Immersion”. So does this mean that I dont have a chance of even starting to be very successful untill another 3 to 5 years? Agility is my whole life, and my dream is to someday be as great as you. This post is just great and probably true but #2 does make me feel a little down. I do love everything you say though! Always! I would love to hear if you had any tips on how to get more “Immersion” closer to home. Things like why’s to make do it youself tools or how manny days a week you should practice or websites to watch for helpful stuff. Love you Susan your just great!


  5. Helen says:
    Sunday, June 21, 2009 at 9:11pm

    I’m a big fan of both you and Tony Robbins! I’ve watched your “Bad Dog Trainers” YouTube many many times. It lifts me up big time! Thank you. Along with that one, your other YouTubes are also incredible. That “Afternoon Outing” is another favorite of mine. So I guess I can say you have become a big time agility/dog training model for me, and I’m immersing myself as much as I can in watching and learning from your techniques on-line, and have on my “to buy list” your videos and books.

    Stepping away from the YouTubes to try what I’ve watched and coming back for more is a cycle I’ve been drawn into already. 🙂 It’s addicting – both agility and the youtube/websites of those outstanding agility teachers/performers. It supplements what I learn in classes as our local classes are put on by volunteers from clubs. I’ve yet to attend an agility workshop, and wonder if you ever make your way to the Fort Lauderdale area? I would be first to sign up!

    Eight feet of hot coals in bare feet? I’ve seen that on one of Mr. Robbins’ videos. He really knows how to get people psyched and in the right frame of mind to do mind boggling feats. Take out “people” and replace it with “dogs” and we have you!

    Love the blog, and will be visiting it regularly. Thanks for reaching out to those of us who are out of your geographical vicinity. The Internet has opened up a lot of options and every little bit helps us eager learners.


  6. Melissa says:
    Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 11:14am

    I would love your thoughts on what Chris posted about working on full range of equipment.

    Sadly, certain life/financial circumstances have gotten in my way of weekly classes – let alone taking any workshops.

    But I definitely agree – anytime I’ve taken a workshop it’s been an amazing experience to be immersed in knowledge and practice…versus the weekly class.

    My agility may be on pause right now – but I continue to do small things/foundation training with my dog with the home-made jump and 2×2’s I have…so when we are back full swing he hopefully hasn’t lost much.


  7. Chris says:
    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 2:36pm

    This sounds like a great approach. I also find my progress at weekly classes is slower than I’d hope, and, although I haven’t made a seminar yet (you are coming back to Vancouver next year I hope!), I do find my greatest progress comes from using your DVDs, especially in days after I get a new one and “immerse” myself in some new learning.

    I have a question though. I don’t have a full set of equipment – just jumps, weaves, and a kids tunnel. So I use classes as a way of getting on equipment regularly.

    How often would you say it’s essential to get on a full range of equipment to keep performance solid for your dog?


    And I love the new blog! It looks wonderful.



  8. Andrea says:
    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 11:16am

    Find a model – Done 🙂

    Total Immersion – hmmm, in process, but moving to Say Yes DOES sound like fun!!!!

    Spaced Repetition – well I keep coming back so I guess I’ve got that covered too.

    Yay!!! Thanks for posting, I can’t wait to hear more about what you learned.



    • Susan says:
      Friday, June 19, 2009 at 11:45am

      And your journey Andrea is a perfect example of how this works. The difference in your relationship with your dogs and your mastery of the skills from last summer to this one is like nighttime compared to daylight.


  9. Sydney says:
    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 10:49am

    Being immersed for two days in Masters Handling has been great! The repetition really made it all sink in. I’m looking forward to the next five days of foundation stuff here in Washington.

    I am grateful that you have come to the west coast!


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