is an excellent book by George Leonard (isbn 0-452-26756-0). As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages:
You have to be willing to spend most of your time on a plateau, to keep practising even when you seem to be getting nowhere.
Our hyped-up consumerist society is engaged, in fact, in an all-out war on mastery.
Sometimes, when the moment came to go to class, I would be feeling particularly lazy. On those occasions I would be tempted to do almost anything rather than face myself once again on the mat.
Practice, the path of mastery, exists only in the present.
To see the teacher clearly, look at the students… The best teacher generally strives to point out what the student is doing right at least as frequently as what she or he is doing wrong.
A doctor practises medicine and an attorney practises law, each each of them also has a practice.
The master of any game is generally a master of practice.
The courage of a master is measured by his or her willingness to surrender. This means surrendering to your teacher and to the demands of your discipline. It also means surrendering your own hard-won proficiency from time to time in order to reach a higher or different level of proficiency.
The essence of boredom is to be found in the obsessive search for novelty. Satisfaction lies in mindful repetition, the discovery of endless richness in subtle variations on familiar themes.
For the master, surrender means there are no experts. There are only learners.
It can be argued that what is most abstract is most fundamental and often most persistent over time.
Those we know as masters are dedicated to the fundamentals of their calling. They are zealots of practice, connoisseurs of the small, incremental step. At the same time - and here's the paradox - these people, these masters, are precisely the ones who are likely to challenge previous limits.