Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mastery - Robert Greene

"Mastery is not a function of genius or talent. It is a function of time and intense focus applied to a particular field of knowledge."

For those who are familiar to Robert Greene's books, this will be an extention. I have liked reading the previous three books and that prompted me to take this up for read. What I like in his style of writing is the way they are organised. Unlike the typical management, business or self help kind of books which are too verbose to my comfort, Greene writes in a style which is more subtle and with examples from personalities which are well known in the fields of their own expertise. After a brief narration on the chosen one, he links the points of discussion effortlessly , giving possible 'reversal' angle as well.

This book, supposed to be the resulted from the previous three books. He noticed the similarities in the way the 'heroes' he studied and described went about in their life to be what they are known for. The path, method and progress can be constructed in to a structured model.  Continuing his work on this aspect of their life, Greene came about the theory on "Mastery".  From the life of some of the masters of yester years and by interviewing some of the celebrities of current ( living) generation, the books comes out with the steps that can be generalised in the path to mastery. 

the evolution of mastery begun with the primates. The human brain started developing, differentiating themselves from the animals in the early stone age. The improvement in techniques of hunting, the use of stones and woods , shaped to assist the hunt might be the earlier significant steps towards the 'evolution of Mastery". The social intelligence came in much later, thus making human a much more evolved species. We continued to develop and horn our skills to achieve greater levels of mastery over the generations.

There are three steps in the life of any work / task or learning. The first is the acquaintance phase, where one need to get acclimatized to the surroundings , the task and the people. The second phase is that of apprenticeship where you start learning the skill. It is during this phase of 'life' you strive towards mastery. It's often painstaking and laborious. It demand commitment and dedication and most importantly guidance. The post mastery phase is the phase of 'creative output' , which is the reflection of all that you are learned and practiced over many many hours or years.

Greene summarizes the path to mastery into 6 steps, detailed into different chapters.

Discover Your Calling: The Life’s Task
Submit To Reality: The Ideal Apprenticeship
Absorb The Master’s Power: The Mentor Dynamic
See People As They Are: Social Intelligence
Awaken The Dimensional Mind: The Creative-Active
Fuse The Intuitive With The Rational: Mastery

Citing examples from the lives of Mozart, Charles Darwin, Einstein, Goethe  and new age masters like V S Ramachandran ( neuro sciences), Daniel Everett ( Linguist) , Paul Graham, Yoki Matsuoka ( Artificial intelligence and robotics) ,Freddie Roach( Boxing) and many others, each chapter elaborate into the nuances of the respective aspect of mastery.

While there are questions raised on some of the practicality of the aspects, the overall suggestions are pretty interesting. Fairly easy read, and engaging through out. No jargons or 'registered' phrases. Dense, but not as rich as the the other books : there are no side notes nor any microprinted quotes. But, a good read nonetheless.
Mastery ( 2012 )

Robert Greene

Profile Books

336 Pages
Wiki, LA Times

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