Mastery by Robert Greene - An Inspirational Book

Biographies can really inspire us. Imagine reading around 15 mini biographies at the same time. This is what Robert Greene has done with Mastery. This is one of the best books I have ever read and goes deep into what it takes to reach mastery in your field. I have read this book multiple times and it is a worthy addition to your library. This summary is only an appetizer and you really need to read this book in its entirety to get the full satisfaction. Yes it is not an easy read but well worth your effort. Here is a very high level review on what the book contains.
  1. Don’t separate your work from your personal life it is a sad separation since most of our time is spent at work so we can’t be miserable there. He also says masters felt a sense of destiny. For example Albert Einstein was immediately moved when his father gave him a compass when he was just 5 years old.
  2. Discover your calling. Each of us has a purpose to fulfill so discovering that is the first step towards mastery. Once you discover your calling you are able to do anything sometimes even without sleep. You are energized and work towards fulfilling your vision. Some the ways I recommend to discover you call is to really assess your strengths and then focus on using that to make the work your life win. Each one of us has amazing talent but we need to discover it.
  3. First within your scope of work look for avenues to do it better and the other approach is to seek out related fields and move there. Every job has opportunities for you to grow. So you can use your current job as a platform to even greener pastures.
  4. The examples of V.S.Ramachandran and Yoky Matsuoka are provided here. Both of these examples are inspiring.
  5. Move towards pain as you can’t get to mastery without pursuing discomfort so be comfortable with moving towards resistance. Example of Bill Bradley provided here. Bill Bradley used to practice three and a half hours after school and on Sundays, eight hours every Saturday, and three hours a day during the summer. He also devised various methods like putting ten-pound weights in his shoes to strengthen his legs. You should resist the need to be nice to yourself if you really want to attain mastery.
  6. The next phase is the apprenticeship. During this phase you are largely on your own. All masters went through this phase.
  7. Example provided is Charles Darwin who studied barnacles for 8 long years before he came with his theories. You can’t short cut the process. This piece was inspiring.
  8. Remember no one else is going to do it for you and really no one else cares so you have to be in it for the long haul and keep at it relentlessly.
  9. Another great example provided is Zora Neale Hurston who had everything going against her but wrote at a furious pace establishing herself as the first African American writer. The key is no one else is going to do it for you. You have to put in enormous effort to get enormous results.
  10. Find a mentor who can help shorten the process. Mentors offer a wealth of information to speed up the process of mastery.
  11. Once you find a mentor be prepared for them to take credit for your work as this is a standard among all mentors
  12. Michael Faraday is mentioned here and how he had Humphrey Davy as his mentor. 
  13. Glenn Gould and Frank Lloyd wright are other examples on how they had mentors whom they followed to become great.
  14. At the same time once you have learnt everything leave your master follow the fencing expression which says to the master goes the knife.
  15. Social Intelligence says you have to be smart with people. Don’t give into the seven deadly sins like envy, conformism, greed. For example Benjamin Franklin when he first to London had a tough time dealing with people but eventually understood that being right is not as important as being approachable.
  16. Be practical and understand others. Look deeper to understand people. Ignaz Semmelweis couldn't make people understand why hygiene is important. He just thought people would understand but they won’t. William Harvey was the opposite and was successful because of his ability to deal better with people.
  17. Next is the creative active phase here is where you produce large amounts of work and go full blast on your own carving a unique niche for yourself.
  18. For example Mozart broke away from his father not returning to Salzburg, deciding to stay in Vienna and composed at a furious pace before his death at the age of 35.
  19. Another example is John Coltrane who made jazz his medium to showcase his creativity. People listening to his music said it is like cathedrals of sound. This is what the author calls discovering your authentic voice.
  20. Final step is Mastery this is where you have put it in your 10000 or 20000 hours of deliberate practice before the public adulation is achieved.
  21. Albert Einstein contemplated for nearly 10 years before coming with the theory of relativity. Cesar Rodriquez was called the last American ace and he achieved that due to his relentless pursuit to become better at flying. Relentless practice is the key.
  22. Connecting to your environment is another key to mastery.
  23. Marcel Proust is provided as an example his first book was a disaster but he persevered translating the works of John Ruskin. He then produced his master piece In Search of Lost time which sold very well.
  24. Mastery is not a master of luck but a function of deep practice over a number of years.
Read the book completely to get all the examples. This is one book you don’t want to miss. You need patience to read this but it is well worth the effort.
The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.


  1. I really appreciate your article. the post has excellent tips which are useful. this post is good in regards of both knowledge as well as information
    MS Office Training in Bangalore | Leadership Training in Bangalore


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The 5 P's of Ethical Power

10 Tips to Develop a Pleasing Personality

15 Takeaways from The Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris

Talent is Never Enough - 13 Factors to Maximise your Talent

13 Habits of Highly Successful People

7 Keys to Winning in any Year

10 Keys to Thrive and Lead in the 21st Century

5 Ways to Create a World Class Life

10 Keys to make your life a Masterpiece