Better Every Day Book Club: Mastery by Robert Greene


Robert Greene’s Mastery could also be called Stories of Great People and What May Have Helped Make Them Great. It is well organized with the “Example-Lesson” set-up: an example followed by what/why helped them achieve that greatness, over and over again. This format is really conducive to driving the point across and for the reader to fully understand the concepts.

KEY TAKEWAYS
1. Apprenticeship is the most effective and efficient path to mastery
Find a master, become their slave in exchange for what they’ve learned.

2. Be Observant

3. Focus on the process

4. Check your ego
This leaves room for best learning and growth

5. Acquiring skills is basically the same process in all subjects (I’ve written about this here)

6. The creative mind uses input from ALL AREAS, even when the end goal is focused on a single pursuit.
Leonardo Da Vinci was famous for taking a longer time to perform some jobs because he would simultaneously work on other things in different areas. He did this deliberately to utilize the power of what I call inter-skill synergy. This means he was able to borrow ideas, for example, from music and painting, and use them in an architecture project.

STEPS TO MASTERY
Start Now
The problem many creative people have, is that they don’t follow through. Many would rather write about or discuss an idea than do a test run or prototype to see if it’s feasible. This could be related to inertia-making that first tangible prototype is generating momentum. Yes, it takes more work to get started than to sit around talking about something, but that’s kind of the point. Better to take an idea or plan to step 3 and start over than talk about what steps 1-10 might be someday. This is something I personally have struggled with in the past and the way to solve it is to be like Nike-just do it.

Build a Foundation
The idea that you need to nail down the individual components of a skill or craft in order to master the field is one that I agree with 100% and try to convey. This is working on scales for the piano or mobilizing each joint individually in a 5 minute flow for your exercise. Identify the building blocks and spend an appreciable amount of time refining the mastery of these blocks. This is going to result in a faster and more complete level of mastery in the skill.

Leave Emotions Out
A lesson I would argue is the most important thing a person can do to be smarter/stronger/happier is to leave emotions and preconceived notions out of decision making. Being able to suspend emotions in decision making is critical in achieving the optimal result. This is especially true when it comes to finance, business, and even personal relationships. This doesn’t mean become a robot, but try to see every situation at face value. This will allow you to see it from multiple perspectives and provide useful information to arrive at the best decision. Any dogma should be shattered before making a decision. Approach everything with a blank slate and consider all of the consequences of an action.

Put this alongside The Little Book of Talent, and The Power of Habit, and you have yourself a really nice trifecta of understanding where greatness comes from, and how you can achieve it too.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book, it’s quite possibly my favorite ever (at least top 5). The stories show success and innovation across the span of human existence and tie it back to the building blocks that resulted in mastery.

Better Every Day,
-Max

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