Mastery by Robert Greene

These past weeks I have been enjoying reading a book by "the modern Machiavelli", as his publishers advertise him. He certainly feels to me like some sort of confidant to help me achieve my boldest intentions.

The term "Mastery" is applied here to nearly all fields of human activity: arts, science, politics, technology, sports, business... After 1,000s of hours of research about masters, Robert Greene has condensed all that information into one book, outlining the steps to follow if one wants to achieve mastery in their field.

The book itself follows the evolution of mastery itself by guiding the reader from the lowest to the highest of levels. It contains strategies for discovering one’s vocation, how to find one’s mentor, how to alter one’s perspective, etc, thus being an invaluable tool for pursuing what he calls "the high point of human potential... the source of the greatest achievements and discoveries in history".

One of the strongest hooks of the book lies in the recounting of past and present master’s life stories and relating them to the development of mastery itself. Greene seems to have thought of everything, including one of the most interesting chapters in the book called "See people as they are – social intelligence".
"Often the greatest obstacle to our pursuit of mastery comes from the emotional drain we experience in dealing with the resistance and manipulations of the people around us. If we are not careful, our minds become absorbed in endless political intrigues and battles. The principal problem we face in the social arena is our naïve tendency to project onto people our emotional needs and desires of the moment. We misread their intentions and react in ways that cause confusion or conflict. Social intelligence is the ability to see people in the most realistic light possible. By moving past our usual self-absorption, we can learn to focus deeply on others, reading their behavior in the moment, seeing what motivates them, and discerning any possible manipulative tendencies. Navigating smoothly the social environment, we have more time and energy to focus on learning and acquiring skills. Success attained without this intelligence is not true mastery, and will not last."

It’s a compelling and highly entertaining read, and gives me the feeling of possibility and magic. I highly recommend it.

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