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Mastery by Robert Greene

ISBN: 9780670024964 HC

ISBN: 9780143124177 PBK

–Review by Doug Balzer

Recently, in my search for books, I came across Robert Greene and his writings. I wanted to share this particular book with you, why, it resonated with me. It describes the transformational process that took place in my life and is still active within me. Now, why is this important? Sometimes we need to be reminded about where we came from to get to where we are now, and we are in the process of going. Also, in the midst of the journey to assist others as much as possible. We can share our life’s lessons with others to strengthen them in the course of the way.

Growing up, I often heard the phrase “Jack of all trades and a master of none.” It was used in relationship to the men in my family, my grandfathers, father, and uncles. It sounded like a compliment yet, in reality, was an off-handed insult, meant sarcastically and definitely not a compliment. Researching this phrase, I found the complete phrase when stated should be, “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but is often better than a master of one.” The phrase implies a person is a generalist rather than a specialist. Yet, their skills present broad adaptability, versatile in various disciplines and still not thought of as mastering a specific trade. It is a label we put on people when we observe certain characteristics, skills set, situations or circumstances people are forced into due to economic necessity. My grandfathers were definitely masters of their trade as farmers, as well as my uncles, are farmers today. My father was a journeyman carpenter. One uncle, he was a master sergeant in the Marines. So, each one had to cross the lines of their mastery to deal with life’s circumstances and work in supplemental work due to the economics of their time. Still, others were quick to judge them as a “Jack of all trades and a master of none.” We often misjudge people by what we assume. The men in my family always returned to the trade where they had their mastery.

Robert Greene in his book Mastery addresses what the driving force is for human beings to get desired results, overcome obstacles and develop high-level skills. Skills that often translate over into other arena allowing a person to accomplish tasks. What I found in Greene’s book is he believes there is an intuitive power and intelligence that represents the spirit of human potential. Our greatest achievements and discoveries are the result of this power and intelligence. Now, his premise is that this is not taught through our educational systems, though it may reinforce it. The source, well, it is the result of our experiences individually and collectively. When we are faced with the pressure of deadlines, it is under pressure when we get results, eureka moments happen, and the energy and creativity give us immense feelings of passion and drive. It is tapping the power and intelligence of this drive and passion for moving us onto success

What I like about Robert Greene in this book is he does not limit people’s abilities to be geniuses and masters, equal opportunity. He takes away the ideology that only the notably intelligent and innately talented people are the only ones who will transform themselves into the geniuses and masters. Instead, Greene believes the ability to become a genius or master is directly related to the intensity of a person’s desire to learn and the drive to follow through in the process to develop high-level skills. He calls this drive Mastery, and it is something to be nurtured in each one of us from early childhood, but also to tap back into if we have lost our way.

There are six steps according to Greene to engage the power of Mastery. It is accomplished by –

First, Discover Your Calling: The Life’s Task – it begins with self-examination starting with understanding yourself from early childhood to help reveal what you are meant to accomplish during your time here. He describes this as a force to guide you and direct you towards your natural inclinations and what sparks you deepest primal curiosity.

Second, Submit to Reality: The Ideal Apprenticeship – praxis, learn practical knowledge from others who are masters. Be an apprentice. Find the place offering the greatest opportunity for learning. Gain as much practical knowledge as possible; it is a priceless commodity.

Third, Absorb The Master’s Power: The Mentor Dynamic – a mentor, will save you time and energy and help get you to the higher skill levels quicker than trying to guide yourself through the trenches of learning all the practical applications beyond education.

Fourth, See People As They Are: Social Intelligence – Social Intelligence is an essential skill. This skill is the ability to see people as realistically as possible. It is not an absolute ability, as we can misread others. Why, because we have the tendency to project our emotions on to others. Therefore, yes, we see into them the characteristics we want or need to see. It is a naïvity, and we need to be aware of how deeply distorted our perceptions may be.

Now, because I don’t like spoilers, okay, I periodically ask for some movie spoilers if I am not able to make it to the Cinema, I am going to leave steps six and seven for you to investigate for yourself. So, you know, it is my opinion they are worth checking out. Okay, a couple clues. Here are the names of the steps without further explanation. Fifth, Awaken The Dimensional Mind: The Creative-Active. The sixth step, Fuse The Intuitive With The Rational: Mastery.

According to Greene, the pathway to mastery is relative, relatively simple. Still, there are no shortcuts. The idea of mastery is to make yourself irreplaceable, a Master of both your field and destiny. I hope you enjoy reading Greene. You are no longer replaceable.