Robert Greene


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Mastery is the fifth book by the American author Robert Greene.The book examines the lives of great historical figures—such as Charles Darwin, Mozart, and Henry Ford—and contemporary leaders—such as Paul Graham and Freddie Roach—and distills the traits and universal ingredients that made them masters. The book was published on November 13, 2012 by Viking Adult.

Who is this book for?

  • Readers who are interested in persuasive and leadership oriented books.
  • People who need to use persuasion to generate sales or inspire change.
  • Anyone interested to learn how to use why to get desired results.

Meet the author

Chip Heath is an American academic. He is the Thrive Foundation for Youth Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the co-author of several books.

Dan Heath is an American bestselling author, speaker and professor at Duke University. He, along with his brother Chip Heath, has co-authored three books, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (2010), Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (2007) and Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work.

Mastery Summary

Nothing worth doing is easy. You cannot master any skill without putting in years or even decades of work.

Mastery is the result of continued dedication and commitment to improvement in a specific field. Knowledge is not a natural talent, and people are not born with an inherent ability to master skills, or to have become masters.

Instead, the people who we see as ‘Masters’ in their given field arrived at this status as the result of years, often decades of continuous and incremental improvement. Through an active and tangible commitment, they can improve day on day, until they eventually become masters.

As such, the long path to mastery is one of dedication and hard work- not natural or genetic talent. Masters aren’t born, they’re built and crafted through resilience and patience.

The road to mastery is open to all of us- so long as we have love, commitment, and dedication for the task. However, to master a specific field, you must first love it. Through love, you find your passion and commitment. Without this ability to apply your passion and dedication, there is no hope to achieve mastery.

The path to knowledge can broadly be divided into three significant milestones: The Apprenticeship, Creative Action, and Mastery.

However, before you can begin on the path, you first must find your calling.

What is the inclination or field which you connect with on an emotional level? You must find your passion for a specific area, and allow yourself to apply your love to the ground in a sustainable manner. It is crucial that you connect with your inclination deeply so that you can build or develop a passion and enthusiasm for it.

Without this love, your commitment will be fleeting, and your path to mastery will be a constant struggle.

Every person has something inside them that drives them forward. You must find out what yours is before you can move in the right direction.

Each of us has an inner force which pulls us in a particular direction. As children, this force was more clear and distinct, and however as we mature and grow older, external pressures often confuse our visions. Therefore the first step to mastery is to reconnect with your inner childhood nature – rekindling our relationship with our internal force and finding clarity in our direction.

Each of us is born with a natural inclination towards a task which we can dedicate our lives to. The challenge for you is to find your direction and start moving towards it.

Tragically, many of us never rekindle this relationship and live their entire adult lives searching for their calling in life. As adults, they stop trusting their inner feelings and bury their direction to conform with the people around them.

We begin to mask our inner child and ignore our life’s calling. There are five ways to reconnect with our calling:

Return to your originsSpend time thinking about what you connected with as a child. When you find your passion, you will feel it deep within yourself.

Live in your niche: While the overpopulated fields may be appealing and offer you safety in numbers, they stifle your ability to break out. Instead, find or carve a niche for yourself wherein you can thrive and grow.

Stay true to your path: Come to the revelation that you are in the wrong field- push back against the forces which implore you to stay. Break out and find your way.

Live in the moment, plan for the future: Do not waste your time and effort living in the past. Always be forward-looking and live in the moment, grow in your day-to-day.

Find your way: Deviation from your path is inevitable, and we will all do it. It’s important to reflect and go back to your passion- and find your fulfillment.

Make sure that you choose your work, hobbies and habits in such a way that they build towards your goals instead of interfering with them.

Most of us go through life on the same path. We go to school, attend university, obtain our degrees and begin working (first as an apprentice). 

When we can’t find our calling, we continuously switch fields and re-enter apprenticeships. We do this, not to obtain money or to grow, but to see ourselves and test if this is our path.

Without the appropriate levels of caution, we can become trapped in a cycle of apprenticeships. The period feeds our insecurities and feelings of vulnerability, and eventually, they dominate our thoughts.

Without a clear mind and transparent plan, we begin to develop fears which if not careful we can carry throughout our lives. So it is imperative that you learn lessons and find your path, to start walking your way with a clear mind and clear focus.

The key to a successful apprenticeship is to focus on the transformation of mind and culture. To make a conscious choice to grow and change, to hone your skills to maximize the efficiency of travel on the path to mastery.

Choose your work, hobbies, and habits wisely to ensure they align with your goal of proficiency. Seek challenges and opportunities to build resilience and patience, while dedicating yourself to continuous growth and improvement.

The apprenticeship should not be easy or comfortable. You should be continuously challenged and grow.

The apprenticeship phase is vital to the path to mastery, and it cannot be skipped or circumnavigated. Many of the world’s most famous geniuses are thought to be natural born talents. It is not the case.

Einstein slaved away for more than ten years before producing his seminal work of relativity. He spent ten years refining his apprenticeship and learning before arriving at his ultimate destination.

Einstein dedicated his entire life, starting his apprenticeship at a young age, and entirely engrossing himself in his work. Through hard work and repeated improvement, he achieved mastery.

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“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” 

― Robert Greene, Mastery

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