How Productivity Undermines Mastery- Why It Matters. What To Do.

Productivity vs Mastery

I’ve committed to try NEW things.  Be a BEGINNER.

Here’s what my first Beach Tennis Lesson taught me about Productivity, Mastery, and Coaching others…


Beach Tennis is played on the sand with a paddle racquet.  It combines elements of tennis and volleyball.  I am skilled at none of these, except going to the beach.

Matteo, my wise Italian tennis coach, taught me a lot more than how to play Beach Tennis today…


Productivity vs Mastery

I’m athletic, so I could hit the ball over the net.

This quick success deluded me into thinking, “I’m good at Beach Tennis.”


Then Matteo started coaching….



“You’re working too hard.  You’re reaching too much.  You’re swinging too long.”

“Wait for the ball to come to you.  Wait.  Then tap it.  Just a tap.”



I nodded like a good adult learner.

Then I continued to work too hard, reach too much, and swing too long.  I shocked myself.

Why was it so difficult to be patient and work less to achieve more?



The mark of a Master is elegant efficiency.



Where else in my life am I impatient, working too hard, and inefficient?

Am I allowing or even coaching others to work too hard, work too long, and be inefficient in the name of Getting Things Done?



It’s one thing to Get a Job Done.

  • Get the ball over the net.



It’s another thing to Get a Job Done with less effort and higher quality.

  • Wait for the ball and tap.
  • Expend the least amount of energy.
  • Give the least amount of signal to your opponent.



Make it Immediate and Balanced.


When my form was inefficient, Matteo stopped me.

He corrected me and had me do it again.  Immediately.


When my form was efficient, Matteo said, “Brava!”

He had me repeat the success.  Then turned up the challenge.



  1. Immediate feedback and correction kept me from forming inefficient habits.
  2. I’m embarrassed to admit, I lived for the “Brava!”


Fast Constructive Feedback:

This is one of the biggest complaints employees share with me about their Management.  They want feedback fast.  Not at the end of a project.  Not at their annual review.  Immediately.


Positive Feedback:

I’ve had some clients initially balk, during coaching sessions, at giving and receiving positive feedback.  I insist on it.  This experience, being a Beginner, reinforced my conviction.


Motivation and Faster Progress:

Every “Brava!” surprised me with a surge of emotion that physically anchored masterful form.

It motivated me almost to the point of addiction, like a real-life Video Game.



When was the last time you tried to DO something completely NEW?  Be a Beginner?

  • Challenge yourself this weekend or by the end of the month to DO something completely New.
  • Notice what you learn.


My Beginner Takeaways Today:

  • It’s a joy and a gift to be a Beginner.
  • Coach for Mastery from the Beginning.
  • Don’t let Productivity undermine Mastery.


Want to Master Service Excellence?  Want to Master Presentations?

Take the first step here.


About Mary Sandro

Mary Sandro helps organizations deliver exceptional customer service and standout presentations. In 1994 she founded ProEdge Skills, Inc. to deliver engaging training programs, videos, coaching, and train-the-trainer licenses that empower employees to achieve goals. Learn more at or call 800-731-0601.

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