(This review contains affiliate links which means we make a commission if you purchase a product from MindValley—at no extra cost to you. However, it is an honest review of my personal experience with Personal Mastery).
The world has changed with the coronavirus pandemic. We’re going to be spending a lot more time at home for at least the next few months.
You could endlessly scroll your Facebook feed or you could learn from a successful business school professor on how to achieve personal mastery in business and life.
I know which one I’m doing.
Personal Mastery by Mind Valley is a 45-day course taught by Professor Srikumar Rao to help you let go of limiting beliefs, increase your resilience and create a more successful life.
As the founder of Hack Spirit, a blog on self-improvement and mindfulness, I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve my life.
When I saw that Professor Srikumar Rao was offering a course on unconventional strategies for achieving personal mastery, I just knew I had to check it out.
So I decided to give it a try and report back for anyone else thinking of taking the plunge.
In my Personal Mastery review, you’ll learn what’s great about Personal Mastery, what its weaknesses are, and whether you should enroll.
First, who is Srikumar S. Rao?
Srikumar S. Rao is a speaker, author, and former business school professor.
Srikumar Rao is one of the most popular MBA lecturers around the world.
The courses he has taught have become among the highest-rated courses at many of the world’s top business schools, such as The London Business School and Columbia University.
Now he’s brought those exclusive teachings to this Mindvalley course.
What does he teach?
He mainly teaches how to achieve your goals, how to use mindfulness to live a happier life, and how to be more resilient.
To get an idea of what Rao’s teaching style is like, check out his TED talk below. It will also give you a sneak peek to the course material in the Quest For Personal Mastery.
What is Personal Mastery?
It’s a course designed to allow you to master yourself, your life, and where it’s going.
The lessons are meant to be completed over 45 days or less. That’s a 10-20 minute video per day.
They’re the teachings that were once only available to MBA students at Columbia Business School, London Business School, and UC Berkeley.
Before we get stuck into what the course entails, don’t be too turned off by the over-hyped marketing
You might find the sales page for Personal Mastery a little unbelievable and exaggerated.
After all, it promises you “extreme” levels of happiness and “incredible” abundance.
Trust me; I was skeptical too.
But that was all washed away when I heard Strikumar Rao speak.
He has a down-to-earth nature about him. No matter who you are or where you’re at in life, you’ll be able to relate to what he is saying.
That might surprise you compared to how the sales page reads.
So don’t worry if you’re a little turned off with the way sales page reads. That’s just how Mindvalley does its marketing.
What you need to remember is that you’re enrolling in the teachings of Srikumar Rao.
Personal Mastery: What the course entails
If you’ve ever taken a MindValley course, then you’ll see that it is structured the same way.
You get one short video each day, and you have an exercise to do for that day.
The course goes for 45 days.
The videos themselves range from about 5 to 20 minutes, which makes it easy to fit into your daily life.
What I usually love about Mindvalley courses is that you’re not just learning intellectually but also practically, which is the best way to produce a change in your life.
You also get access to a Facebook group of people who are undertaking the quest. Many people share their thoughts on the lessons and where they’re having trouble. You can get some useful insights from this group.
What’s in the course: The modules
Before I discuss the positives and negatives of Personal Mastery and whether or not it is worth it, I’m going to discuss exactly what’s in the course. Here’s what each module covers and what I learned:
1. Mental models and how you become what you are
The idea of the beginning module is to discover the toxic beliefs thwarting you from true happiness.
I learned how my beliefs have shaped me into who I am today, and that a lot of my emotional baggage is needless when you get deep down to it.
What I loved about this module was the idea of cultivating resilience by accepting reality for what it is.
So many of us are taught that “positive thinking” is the best way to develop happiness.
But Rao says that forced positive thinking involves avoiding reality, and that’s not a productive or sane way to live life.
Rather than avoiding the darker sides of life, it’s much more fruitful to accept it for what it is, and then move on with your actions to create a life you love.
This lesson is important to digest a lot of the work you do from here relies on what you learn in this module.
Part 2: How to win the inner game of happiness
This module is about transcending the limiting beliefs we spoke about in module 1.
There are some great mindfulness techniques to learn in this module.
One mindfulness technique involves gratitude. If you look at the toxic beliefs you discover in module 1, you’ll find that genuine appreciation for life, in general, will effectively wash away those toxic beliefs.
This module also discusses how to set goals for the future.
If you lack purpose and direction, you’ll find some golden nuggets in this module.
Part 3: Your future depends on thinking big and why mindfulness matters
This section is probably the most practical of all the modules.
It gives you mindful techniques to bounce back from setbacks, inspire those around you, and to accept uncertainty (and even flow with it)
It will give you a greater understanding of the power of suffering and setbacks and how to cultivate resilience in the face of them while keeping an open mind.
In my opinion, the way Rao talks about using mindfulness to build your resilience and fearlessness is inspiring and powerful.
I got a lot of courage out of it, and the techniques I learned could be applied in everyday life which was a bonus.
The top 3 takeaways I learned from Personal Mastery
1. Don’t be quick to label and judge
One brilliant phrase I keep repeating to myself from Rao is, “Good thing, bad thing, who knows?”
This saying has had a profound impact on my life.
Rao says that rather than judging something as “good” or “bad,” don’t judge it. Instead, accept it and practice forgiveness.
This idea helps us keep our emotions and reactions in check and it also forces us to step back and question why we believe something.
2. Invest in the process, not the outcome
While it’s important to set our goals and intentions, Rao teaches that we shouldn’t hinge our happiness on reaching it.
Instead, Rao says it’s more fruitful to embrace our actions and the journey itself. After all, that’s where we spend most of our life!
If we take pride in our everyday actions and we embrace the journey, you’ll always be fulfilled no matter what you’re doing.
In fact, only being happy when you reach a specific desired outcome only sets you up for unhappiness for the majority of your life.
Unfortunately, we’re not taught this in the western world. It’s all about desiring and wanting something we don’t have, rather than enjoying the present moment and appreciating what we do have.
3. Rao’s lesson on affirmations stuck with me
He says that if you create affirmations out of neediness and desperations, then those affirmations will do you more harm than good.
For example, if you tell yourself, “I’m going to make 20,000 dollars from my online business in 6 months,” but you believe that you can’t do that, then you are coming from a place of desperation than belief and conviction.
You’ll only feel more stressed and more of a failure when you don’t reach your destination.
Instead, Srikumar Rao says you shouldn’t create “outcome affirmations.” Instead, it’s better to create “action affirmations.” When you create affirmations that focus on your actions, you achieve more, and you’re living in the present moment.
For example, instead of “I will make 20,000 dollars from my online business in 6 months,” I can change it to “I will post 2 blog posts a day to get more people to my site”.
This is more helpful. A lot of the Law of Attraction Community and Positive Thinking movement tell you to make “I am” statements, like “I am rich” or “I am happy.” But if you don’t really believe it, it’s useless. You just get upset when you realize you’re not happy.
The positives of Personal Mastery
1. There are many valuable lessons that will shift the way you think about many things
The questions Rao poses to you will make you think about the mental models you carry around, why you label things as good or bad, or right or wrong, and why you need to invest in the present moment, rather than the desired outcome.
2. He communicates profound life-changing concepts
If you’ve ever taken a self-development course before, you’ll find that many self-declared “gurus” use complicated language that makes it hard to understand what they’re trying to get across.
This is not the case with Personal Mastery. Rao’s ability to make complex ideas easy to understand is brilliant.
In every lesson, he manages to communicate in a way that makes it easy to understand. You’ll come away with an “ah, of course, that makes sense” from every video.
3. You get to do this quest with other people.
It’s not a regular self-study course. Instead, it has both.
You can do it solo if you want, but there is an option where you’ll be joining this 45-day quest with thousands of other people as well.
I found this pretty great because you talk about overcoming challenges with others and inspire each other to push past your limits.
4. Srikumar Rao answers questions you may have
Yep, you read that right.
Every day for the quest, you get access to 6 pre-recorded Q&A sessions where he will have answered questions from the class.
The cons of Personal Mastery
1. The videos are sometimes too short
The videos you get access to every day don’t go for very long. Sometimes I wished he expanded on certain topics so I could understand it better.
2. You need to mentally commit
It does require a time commitment to get the most out of it. You need to spend at least 30-60 minutes a day to digest his lesson and complete the exercise he requests.
Some days you won’t do that much for the exercises. That’s mainly only the first few lessons, and the rest of the courses are about analyzing what you did in those lessons, but still, you need to commit.
3. You need to be willing to change
If you haven’t got an open mind and you’re not ready to change, then this course may not be for you.
If you’re closed in how you’re thinking and you believe that the world always works “this way,” then you may not buy into what he is saying.
The Quest For Personal Mastery is all about producing positive change in your life. And to do that, you need to be willing to think and act differently.
A lot of his teachings may be confronting and may shock you.
So if you’re not willing to question your beliefs and how you see the world, then you might not get much out of this course.
4. Some people may have resistance to some of the lessons
Again, your reaction is going to depend on how open your mind is.
After all, Srikumar Rao will challenge some of your current beliefs.
It may be shocking for you to consider, or it may be incredibly enlightening.
If you’re pleased with your current life and you don’t want to change, then this course may not be for you.
5. It won’t change your life immediately
I can imagine a lot of people going into this course thinking that within 45 days it will completely change their life. But this won’t happen.
The truth is, nothing will change your life in 45 days. It’s up to you to implement the lessons and change your attitude for an extended period of time before you see permanent results.
Personal Mastery can give you a good foundation and make you feel empowered, but you need to practice what he is teaching for months and years before your life changes.
Is this course for you?
To be honest, this course won’t be everyone.
If you’re not open-minded to what he is teaching, then you might not get many benefits from it.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling apathy towards life and you lack purpose, then I think this course could help you out in terms of getting you focused on the process of achieving your goals.
Also, if you’re unhappy and feeling disillusioned with the way your life is turning out, then I believe you find some golden nuggets of wisdom to improve your attitude and approach.
If you’re considering taking Personal Mastery, here the things it can help you with:
– Understand who you are and what your purpose is in life.
– Become aware of limiting beliefs that are holding you back.
– How to keep sane in times of hardship.
– Let go of past issues.
– Stop judging others and circumstances. Instead, be accepting and compassionate.
– How to live more in the present moment and focus on the journey.
– Overcome obstacles that stand in the way of what you want
– Learn how to take a step back and see what the other point of view is.
– Be more focused on your tasks at hand.
– Stop overthinking and be more mindful.
Personally, this course has helped me focus on my process and my actions in my daily life, which has made me more productive.
I’ve also learned to be more accepting and grateful for what I have in life.
I’m still practicing a lot of what he taught me, so I see that as a success.
So if you’re willing to think differently and produce positive change in your life, then I suggest taking this course.
But if you’re not willing to commit, then it might not be for you.