Mastery, the Great Motivator

MA Blogger: Brenda Bernstorf

In Montessori circles, we talk often about mastery, self-esteem, self-confidence – that self-efficacy that I have previously blogged about.

Dr. Edward Hallowell says that the greatest motivator is mastery. When a child, or an adult, practices something until they have mastered it they want to repeat that feeling of mastery over and over again. He says fear is the greatest disabler and the more times you feel mastery, the less likely you will be to give in to your fears.  Mastery builds self-esteem and builds self-confidence.

Mastery takes many forms.  We tend to think of great musicians – I have two sisters-in-law who have mastered musical instruments – and they are both incredible musicians. I have a brother-in-law who has mastered optometry. I have a brother who has mastered all things mechanical. I have a nephew-in-law who can create unbelievable things out of what other people throw away. The musicians practiced, so did everyone else.

Practice builds self-confidence and once you have mastered one thing, it’s not too hard to figure out that you probably master something else.

I’m still practicing writing and quilting. Mastery calls and motivates.


For more information see:

Hallowell, E. M. (2002). The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness: Five Steps to Help Kids Create and Sustain Lifelong Joy. Random House Publishing Group, New York, NY.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *