Mastery by Robert Greene – Book Review



Wow, another great book. I’ve been hitting the book jackpot lately by choosing good nonfiction books. This is for those of you who want to get better at a skill, or if you want to know just how Mozart and Da Vinci became “geniuses”. To be honest, I am intimidated to review this book, the information in it is far too in depth to completely do it justice. But I will do my best. I will definitely read it again because I forgot a lot that’s in it, it’s a huge book.


The Keys to Mastery

The book starts out with Keys to Mastery.. what exactly are the keys to mastery?
They are an intense love and connection with the subject.

The first chapter is about finding your true calling, which plays a huuge role in being good at something. We are all unique and we possess the specific interests. For Darwin it was animal life, for Yoky Matsuoka it was tennis and robotics. You can only master something if you have a deep love and connection with it. In Yoky Matsuoka’s case, she loved tennis and robotics, and to help her practice , she went to California at Berkely and created a human-like robotic arm to play tennis with. This was a niche that combines both of her life interests.

If you deviate from your Life’s Task you will end up with emptiness inside, and follow a career that leads to a dead end. Once you find your Life’s Task, you can move onto the next step. Apprenticeship!

Apprenticeship was once a medieval custom where novice craftsmen would study under a master and learn with them for seven to nine years. This is an ideal way to hone in one the one skill and truly focus on it. Nowadays there’s less attention to deep study and practice with a mentor, but this is an experience that should be had to truly become good at something. The study should be boring and repetitive because that creates discipline and focus. Apprenciship gives you the proper foundation to have a good grasp of the skill before you individualize what you’ve learned.

While learning a skill, you must recognize your own weaknesses, and work on the elements you’re not good at. “In the end, your five hours of intense, focused work are the equivalent of ten for most people.”


The Mentor Dynamic

Without guidance on a skill, you could end up wasting time learning something that could take twice as fast with a mentor. Mentors are important to have in learning a skill. If you want to be a master, learn from people who have walked the path you want to walk.

To get a mentor you need to seek out an experiened individual with similar interests and whose achievements you admire and want to replicate. First, you must show them your skills and knowledge thus far and communicate to them your passion for the similar subject. Personally, I don’t have a mentor but I would like one who is accomplished in Piano and music. It’s important to know what you want in a mentor and not settle for anyone what comes your way.

Social Intelligence

Who you surround yourself with is an indicator of your characteristics. If your friends are lazy and unmotivated, then you most likely are lazy and unmotivated. The closest five people to you should be people who you admire and want to be.

Benjamin Franklin was once so naive that he listened to a sales-person and found himself in England without the job that he was promised. He learned from his mistakes in misreading people early in his life, that later he became a master at reading people. This chapter is about reading people’s intentions. Are they too friendly? Are people flightly? It’s important to be able to read people to make the right decisions, and avoid being manipulated.

People can’t be changed, they are who they are. It’s no use to try to change people, you have to accept people as they are. The best indication of what a person it like to look at their actions. Do they follow through with their promises? Do they act irresponsibly? Do they say something and then do something else? Don’t judge people just by what they say.

Suffer fools gladly
I liked this chapter the most because it tells you how to deal with over-emotional, manipulative, dramatic people. I’ve had my share of people like this in the past, and it was so annoying being around them. The book says to observe these people like furniture, haha. Greene gives a few tips on how to deal with foolish people. For example, Goethe was appointed at a court, and had to socialize with the upper-class. They were dramatic, petty, and would  scorn him. He made them characters in his stories.. and his satire of them became a best-selling book. Suffer fools gladly, look at them as entertaining characters! But don’t get invovled!


Awaken the Dimensional Mind: The Creative Mind

This chapter explained how Mozart became the genius he is! And will always be!! ❤

Mozart was interested in piano at the age of three. Once his father heard him copy the tune his sister was playing, he immediately had him take lessons. Then he began composing. He composed for TEN straight years. Yes, this was ten years of experience before he became amazing..  Then he was appointed to be the court maestro of Salzburg, but didn’t like it because he had to create conventional compositions. Eventually Mozart was depressed, because he wanted to compose operas, his passion. Finally, he made the decision to quit and go to Vienna, where he composed day and night. He added dramatic new way of composing to his music, with more strings and emotion. If he didn’t follow through with his passion we would be missing out on greatness. Like Mozart, you are not born a genius, you are created a genius by following your Life’s Path. And it will impact others beneficially when you follow yours!

For mastery, you must expand your knowledge on the subject at hand. You cannot be one-track minded. You need to be creative in developing ways to solve a problem. For instance, in solving the complex Egyptian heiroglyphs in the Rosetta Stone, Champollion, uneducated and from middle-class in France, was able to decipher the hieroglophs. It was his life goal. Because he had a love for other ancient langauges, Coptic and Hebrew,  he was able to figue out that the hieroglyphs were written in an alphabet that was a combination of phonetic, and visual qualities.

Be holistic in your approach. If you’re wanting to be a master at running, learn yoga do some strengthening in your core, be well-rounded. For these strengthen your ability to run.

“Masters and those who display a high level of creative energy are simply people who manage to retain a sizeable portion of their childhoodspirit despite the demands of adulthood.”

Lastly, mastery of a subject takes roughly upwards of 10,000 hours of practice and focus. Geniuses like Einstein and Mozart started out like us, but their unwavering passion and dedication to their art molded them into who they became.

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