Mastery by Robert Greene
There are only a few books that challenge your beliefs and empowering you. Mastery by Robert Greene is one such book, so I strongly recommend it all my friends. A form of power and intelligence often comes to us in a period of tension- the urgent need to solve a problem or resolve a crisis. It is the source of the greatest achievements and discoveries in history. We imagine that creativity and brilliance just appear out of nowhere or are fruits of natural talent. The book calls this intelligence as Mastery- the ultimate form of power. It is a feeling that we have a greater command of reality, of other people and of ourselves. For people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday and other contemporary masters, this feeling of mastery is their way of seeing the world. At the root of this power, lies a process that leads to Mastery. The book is about understanding and unraveling that process so that the reader may follow on such a path to attain Mastery.
Robert Greene’s books are always worth reading due to the immense amount of research that goes into his books. In Mastery, Greene has put in the effort of studying various Masters and learning about their path to Mastery. He uses the stories of these masters to explain the process that leads to mastery. Reading this book shall give you the benefit of reading the biographies of all these great masters. Greene has also interviewed contemporary masters in various fields such as neuroscience, robotics, sports to understand their path to mastery and documented them in this gem of a book. The book serves their path to mastery on your platter- saving you the trouble of reading other biographies and observing the lives of contemporary masters. Mastery is a book that will certainly change you by challenging your beliefs. One needs to read it with an open mind to get the best benefit out of it.
It talks about the evolution of man from apes. It documents the neuroscience of mental development through the different circumstances leading up to the modern day human mind. When we are born as a child, we do possess an extremely powerful mind that is a result of millions of years of evolution. As a child, we possess an inner force that guides us towards our life’s task- what one is meant to accomplish in one’s life. This force guides one towards activities that fit into a natural inclination. However, as we grow up, we fall under the pressure of peers and parents and this inner force seems to fade away, leading us towards mediocracy. A mediocre life is full of unhappiness, frustration and a constant sense of anxiety. The first move towards Mastery is to come out of this mediocracy by reconnecting with that inner force- the childlike inclination towards life’s task. The book explains the strategies to accomplish this by using suitable examples of masters such as Leonardo Da Vinci.
In our conventional education system, we learn very little and develop no practical skills. Therefore, after one’s formal education, one enters a crucial period called the Apprenticeship. One should utilize this period for attaining practical knowledge and real world skills. However, most of us succumb to insecurities and develop fears and learning disabilities if we are not careful. This happens due to lack of clarity of the life’s task. Too often, we see people who seem to be lost. These insecurities if not addressed upfront becomes a baggage all through life. One must be aware of this trap, submit oneself to a great master, and follow his path, picking up vital skills on the way and developing discipline. In the process, one will overcome fears, become an independent thinker and be prepared for the creative challenges on the path to Mastery. The book explains the importance of the Apprenticeship phase using the example of Charles Darwin and other contemporary masters as the case be.
The agents of death are in a hurry to drag you to hell and refuse to wait. Life is short and youth is limited. One would end up wasting valuable time and effort in futile attempts at learning, unless guided by an understanding and kind mentor. One must find such a mentor who can help in connecting with the life’s task. Once the knowledge is acquired, the mentee must move on and surpass the mentor in mastery and brilliance. The book uses the examples of Michael Faraday and Alexander the great to illustrate the role played by mentors in the path to mastery. The book also provides strategies for deepening the mentor-protégé relationship. We spend a fair deal of our time and energy in dealing with the resistance and manipulations of people around us. In the path to Mastery, one must understand the importance of social intelligence. Power games and politics are everywhere. One might end up misreading the intentions of other people, causing confusion and conflict. Using the example of Benjamin Franklin and other contemporary masters, the book digs deep into the topic of social intelligence and its role in mastery.
One must not feel complacent about the new power of mastery one attains. Instead, he must focus on expanding his knowledge to related fields. There can be no end to learning and one’s mind has tendency to connect ideas and give it a new and unique meaning. A developed mind is capable of such originality, bringing great power to the individual. It takes many years of consistent effort to attain that power. One will not be happy to put in that kind of effort, if it was not his inclination in the first place. The book uses the example of the great composer Mozart to explain the role of the dimensional mind- the practice of the creative- active.
Going by the theory of evolution and the time it has taken for our brain to evolve, all of us have access to this higher form of intelligence. Mastery- the ability to see and control more of the world, to anticipate and respond to patterns, is the ultimate form of power. One can develop it by immersing oneself in a chosen field of study while staying true to his inclinations. One must have the confidence to pursue it, the persistence to put in the hours and the social intelligence to make the most of it. Mastery is the form of power that the brain is designed to attain. Fear, laziness, anxiety and peer pressure are designed by society to keep one in the clutches of mediocracy. However, if one is able to find his life’s task and practice it relentlessly, making use of suitable mentorship, then he rises above that mediocracy and accomplishes Mastery. This book beautifully explains how one can accomplish this by using the examples of Masters both past and present.
It is very important to read this book. If you feel lost, frustrated and anxious in life, then just find some time to read this book. It will change you and your life eventually. None of Robert Greene’s books is easy to read, but if you do persist and make the effort, this book shall reward you with a new pair of eyes to see the world. It is a gem in itself. If you feel trapped in mediocracy and dream to get out of it towards a life of power and fulfillment then this book teaches you how you can accomplish the same.
Read this book. Thank me later.
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22nd February 2018