Top positive review
MASTERY : A LONG REVIEW.
5 February 2017
Robert Greene is more than just insightful. He goes a couple of steps further by giving examples of various successful masters who mastered their craft. Not just this, he also gives examples of people who had passion for their field but burned out. There are so many things one can learn from this book but the elementary structure of the book says there are three phases/leavel in mastery,
1. The Apprentice stage
2. Creative / Active stage
Most people achieve the first stage but it comes with a set of its own prerequisites. One must find the purpose of their life in order to ensure catapulting themselves to the level of someone aiming for mastery. Nowhere does the author mention “hard work” because when you do something you want to do or be beyond great at there is no real energy required. The initial phases may perturb you or make you want to give up but you must fight the social dynamic surrounding you. Many may have tried a field and failed at it. We must not allow our social convictions to make us settle down. We must look beyond…
Before I sound more jumbled up let me tell you Mastery is not an easy book to read or sit through. It challenged nearly everything but in many ways it has told me the key to unhappiness and resentment. The reason we are unhappy or depressed is because our creative potential remains potential and never sees the flourish it wants to enjoy.
If you start something purely for the purpose of making money, your drive will be limited only for a few years.
However, if something holds your interest and you wish to submerge yourself, initial failure or resounding success, should not matter.
I noticed the book has many quotes but none of the quotes are simple. I had to read them again two or three times, sometimes even more and still did not understand most of those quotes. I felt rather dense.
The author’s examples of people with average intelligence who went on to achieve a lot include - Charles Darwin, Leonardo Da Vinci, Zen Master Hakun, Benjamin Franklin, Mozart, the poet John Keats, Thomas Edison, scientist Michael Faraday, the writer Marcel Proust, the dancer Martha Graham, the jazz legend John Coltrane and the pianist Glenn Gould.
Nothing can be achieved unless you discover your calling. This is also step 1. There are various strategies in finding your life’s calling and I can’t enlist all of them here. He also talks about taking on a person as your mentor. I found this very intriguing. All examples will make for excellent read.
Side Note : When you have a person as your mentor in a certain field, you will save yourself the time invested in making mistakes and learn from all the virtues of your mentor. They will guide you and curb you in a way to the right path. A worthy mentor will not shy from sharing his tricks, secrets and strategies from you; ideally he/she will through live on. You, however, are not bound to take everything the mentor says and may choose certain virtues to instil in your own personality.
The CREATIVE ACTIVE stage requires often times many years of practice and experimenting including various setbacks and failures.
The author forewarns the reader of various creative pitfalls such as “grandiosity” , “inflexiblity” , “dependency” , “Conservatism”, “impatience” and so on. Then he ventures to explain various strategies.
Again there are several examples here, often the author connects the same person as an example in the “Apprentice” phase, then the “Creative/Active” phase and eventually the “mastery phase”
About the chapters and pages on MASTERY - I would like to say - you have to read them for yourself. I found this the most challenging part of the book because though I read it in entirety, the retention was not that high. This is merely because masters are not common people. They flow through extreme waves of consciousness. Let me enlighten you with an example I made of my own -
Supposing you are sitting with Shakespeare in a library and you both are given sheets of paper to fill with literary candour. The way you approach the scenario and the way he will approach will have the difference and education of a hundred or so years because the way he approaches writing is from within and possesses a kind of sorcery not easily understandable by an amateur. The brains of a master are wired differently after years and years of practice and application.
I am not trying to belittle you or make you feel afraid, I am merely stating that this book is not one you can read just once and then let sit. You have to make this your life guide, your life coach. You have to absorb the essence of what the author is saying. This is possibly why I think this is not for everyone. It is far from being just an interesting read. I mean it is more than just that.
Something in me has changed since I began this book. I give it four stars because thats exactly how much I understood the book.
I took close to four weeks to finish it.