I first read Mastery by Robert Greene when I was in university. At the time, I was in the middle of pursuing a degree in physics, and had ambitions of eventually becoming a researcher in physics. Although my career path has taken me on a different trajectory, this book has since had a huge influence on my life, and how I view the different phases of my life.
The journey to mastery involves three distinct phases or levels:
Everyone has an inner inclination that they were in touch with in childhood, but abandoned as they grew older and became increasingly influenced by their parents and the education system. This calling is present and unique in everyone, and leads to a Life’s Task.
The first step to mastery is to rediscover this calling and to find your Life’s Task, which can be done through the following strategies:
Return to your origins - The primal inclination strategy
Occupy the perfect niche - The Darwinian strategy
Avoid the false path - The rebellion strategy
Let go of the past - The adaptation strategy
Find your way back - The life-or-death strategy
The apprenticeship is a period of time where skills and knowledge are gained, but more importantly, a transformation is done of the mind and character. There are three steps to this first transformation:
Deep Observation (The Passive Mode)
Skills Acquisition (The Practice Mode)
Experimentation (The Active Mode)
The following are strategies for completing the ideal apprenticeship:
Value learning over money
Keep expanding your horizons
Revert to a feeling of inferiority
Trust the process
Move towards resistance and pain
Apprentice yourself in failure
Combine the “how” and the “what”
Advance through trial and error
As part of the process of attaining mastery, it is important to have a mentor that can guide you through everything, which will help to make your journey to mastery more efficient.
The following are strategies for deepening the mentor dynamic:
Choose the mentor according to your needs and inclinations
Gaze deep into the mentor’s mirror
Transfigure their ideas
Create a back-and-forth dynamic
In any kind of workplace environment, there will inevitably be politics and bureaucracy involved. This presents an obstacle in the pursuit of mastery: the emotional drain that is experienced in dealing the resistance and manipulations of others.
Social intelligence is the ability to see people as they are and avoiding confusion and conflict that comes with dealing with others. This allows for more time and energy to focus on learning and acquiring skills. Social intelligence has two components:
Pay less attention to the words that people say and pay more attention to the tone of their voice and body language - their nonverbal communication. Put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective in order to figure out their true motives.
The following are general patterns of human nature that are important to see in others and avoid as much as possible:
Speak through your work
Craft the appropriate persona
See yourself as others see your
Suffer fools gladly
As you emerge from your apprentice, you will begin to use your skills and knowledge in unique ways that suit your inclinations. During this creative period of time, you need to actively seek to explore your originality instead of remaining complacent.
This requires a mindset called the Dimensional Mind, which has two components: a high level of knowledge about a field or subject, and the openness and flexibility to use this knowledge in new and original ways. This requires three steps:
The Creative Task
The Creative Breakthrough - Tension and Insight
The Authentic Voice
The Fact of Great Yield
The Open Field
The High End
The Evolutionary Hijack
Alchemical Creativity and the Unconscious
Once a deep immersion in a field in cultivated based on inner inclinations, an intuitive feel for the complicated components of the field is had. This allows us to see more of the world, to anticipate trends, and respond with speed and accuracy to any circumstance. By combining this intuitive sense with rational processes, mastery is attained.
Connect to your environment - Primal Powers
Play to your strengths - Supreme Focus
Transform yourself through practice - The Fingertip Feel
Internalize the details - The Life Force
Widen your vision - the Global Perspective
Submit to the other - The Inside-out Perspective
Synthesize all forms of knowledge - The Universal Man/Woman