Robert Greene

Mastery Summary by Robert Greene Book Summary, Notes, and PDF

Last Updated on November 16, 2020

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Mastery deflates the mystery of talent. This book aims to teach its readers the required steps  to achieve mastery in a new skill and generally improve their lives. 

Robert Greene’s non-fiction novel analyses the paths of some of the most influential people in history. The list includes figures such as Da Vinci and Einstein. It is a great book that can completely change your mind and body as well as your current life. 

Attaining perfection in the craft has created the best professionals all through history.

Greene analyses the entire process by giving a sharp overview:

  1. We enter a new environment, and we are unsure about what to do. We are excited, but yet we fear the unknown. Knowing that there is a lot to learn ahead of us is a sort of prudence. The biggest problem in this stage is boredom or confusion. We risk no longer practicing that skill, and thus, never achieving mastery.
  2. If we conquer all these emotions and push on, we acquire skills. However, we need to master the necessary skills and knowledge to face more significant obstacles.
  3. We next proceed from a student to a professional. We also start using our ideas and experiment. Feedback adds another layer to the process. As a professional, we learn to use our own style.
  4. We keep going for years until we master the skill fully. We have a sixth sense on this ability, and we can use it to break the rules.

Greene states that the process has three phases. The first phase is the apprenticeship. The second is creative-active, and the last stage is mastery of the skill.

  1. Discover Your Inner Call

Everyone has a life force that allows them to slowly move towards your life’s task. This is meant to be accomplished in the time that is given to you. 

Since childhood, the force is secure and is clear to your inner self. It directs you to activities and people that fit into your natural dispositions. It sparks an emotional, curious primal feeling in your soul. 

As the years go by, this force fades in and out. Especially when your parents and your peers control you. The daily obstacles that you also face mute out that inner voice. This can lead you to be unhappy. 

A lack of connection to who you are supposed to be and what makes you unique can be an inevitable outcome if you let others guide your path. 

The first movement toward obtaining your ability is an inward feeling. This way, you may learn who you really are and connect with that force properly. 

Once you understand your inner call with clarity, you can go on the right career path. 

The rest will fall in place accordingly. Connecting with your internal request is never too late to start. Every single one of us has a few moments in life where we receive the call. The urge from the heart to tell them who they should be.

“You should be an actor!” “You can write a book!” “You should start beginning to become an engineer!” It is a feeling that is something right for you. You know that you thrive in that area, and you will achieve big things. Greene says you need to start to trust the inner call of yours.

We are all extraordinary, unique creatures that have our good and bad points. We also have our quirks and personality. 

However, everyone is trying to blend into the crowd so hard they ignore the inner voice. Finding your true calling is not simple. It takes a lot of time. Some people need to dig into their souls and test themselves out before discovering it.

Greene analyzes Da Vinci’s life as follows:

Once upon a time, Da Vinci was given a task. Someone asked him to paint an angel in a bible scene. Verrocchio created the scene. Da Vinci decided that he would bring the painting to life. In the picture, Da Vinci painted a flowerbed in front of the angel. Instead of painting ordinary flowers, Da Vinci painted the unique herbs in his childhood days in an essential manner. As for drawing the angel’s face, he used a different technique. He went to the church to capture a sublime expression on a young man. He then mimicked the man’s appearance and painted the illustration using a unique variety of paint. The angel was given a radiance that was the angel’s mood. Finally, he decided to paint the angel’s wings. Da Vinci went to buy a few birds in the marketplace to study the bird wings. After that, he spent hours and hours sketching bird wings. The bird wings merged into the bird’s body and were all taken down into his sketches. Da Vinci wanted to make sure that the painting of the angel’s wings would be sensational and natural. Making sure that the angel was perfect was his main objective. 

However, Da Vinci didn’t stop right there. After he finished the painting, he became obsessed with birds. Soon he had an idea that maybe one day a human can fly.

That motivated him to try and figure out how people can actually soar through the sky one day. To achieve this goal, he’d spend several hours a week studying everything related to birds. His mind worked from one idea to the next with incredible speed. 

It might seem strange to you, but once you listen to your inner voice, everything falls in place. 

Your gut instinct will start to offer hints, and you’ll begin to take notice.


Methods To Find Your Inner Voice

This is the objective of discovering your inner voice is to see how and where you lose yourself. You also become obsessed with that something. 

So how does this process work? 

First, you have to connect with your desires and what your inner voice tells you.

The first baby step is inward. You must start looking for signs in the past for hints left behind by your inner voice. 

Make sure to get rid of other w that whispers that might make you feel confused. These voices come from your family and friends. 

Search for a unique pattern, one that connects to your soul.

Next, when you form a proper link, you need to look at your current career path. 

This path choice is critical, especially if you need to find another route around it. To make this stage more comfortable, you need to understand the theory of it. Too often, we are detached in our lives. There is life in work and living apart from work. This is where we find contentment and happiness.

Greene also stated that we shouldn’t let work be detached from our life. 

“Work is seen as a method of earning money so we can enjoy life outside work.” Even if we are satisfied with our careers, we still need to section our lives in several ways. This is not the right attitude, because we spend a lot of time at work. If we think that we need to go to work just to afford what we really enjoy doing, then all that time is being wasted. 

Instead, you need to view work as an inspiring thing to do. Your work should connect to who you are, not remain a separate section of yourself. This will allow you to develop a sense of vocation.

You should view your career as a vocational path. This will let you have room to maneuver and learn essential skills. Don’t start with something too complicated or ambitious. You need to earn a living and gain some confidence. Once you are on this path, you will find some side paths that interest you. You can adjust and move correspondingly and learn about yourself. However, you should expand your skill sets. 

Like Da Vinci, you take what you have created for others and turn this work into your own. Da Vinci’s life offers a series of wise strategies for finding your life task.

  1. Return to your beginning :

 For many professionals, their deposition was clear from their young days. What did you want to be when you were young? 

  1. Get the perfect niche : 

Find where your passion is to know what is a niche that you can specialize in.

  1. Do not wrong a false path: 

We all pick the wrong tracks for different bad reasons. Some are for money or fame or fulfilling our parents’ hopes. We need to keep rebelling against these forces and be honest in what we want.

  1. Letting go of the past and moving forward:

Avoid the regrets of past mistakes. If something is not right for you, leave it. You are not tied to previous choices. Do not feel like you have to stick to an old plan like before.

  1. Find a path back to where you were: 

You might change course. Changing course in the middle of mastery is very common. However, you can always turn back to the right path. All you need is some determination and a clear mind.

  1. Submission To Real Life: The Perfect Apprenticeship

After you have received an education, you then enter the most crucial phase in your life. The essential aspect is practical education. 

This is known as an apprenticeship. Every time you switch careers or get new skills, you reenter the apprenticeship. 

There are many dangers in doing so. If you are not aware and cautious, you will face many insecurities. You will also get stuck in emotional issues and conflicts that control your thoughts. Fear and learning defects will develop all throughout your life. 

However, before things get worse, and it is too late, you still have time to learn the right experiences. These paths bring lessons from the greatest preachers from the past into the present. 

It is a type of ideal apprenticeship that cuts across all fields. In the entire process, you will learn all the needed skills. You also discipline your mind and turn yourself into an independent philosopher. That prepares you for unique challenges to set your path to mastery. So how do we attain perfect apprenticeship?

The answer is simple, and you must engrave it into your mind. The objective of the principle is not money or education. It is a transformation relating to your account and character. The first transformation starts during the mastery, and it has a consequence to it. The result is choosing a place of work or positions that will give you more possibilities to learn more. 

At the workplace, you should get the most feedback on your work performance. You should not choose apprenticeships that are too easy to attain. Don’t focus on salary; focus on how much you learn. A job that gives you more income but provides you with less education will end up being a bad investment in the long run.

You should always prefer a low-paying job with great growth opportunities. 

It will help you to excel in your work faster than making all the mistakes along the way. 

Benjamin Franklin could have just taken over his father’s business. Instead, Franklin took a printing job that allowed him to master writing faster.

Three Steps of the Apprenticeship 

Step 1: Observing your mentor (Passive Mode)

There is a big mistake that you can make when you are new at work. The error is gathering attention, trying hard to impress, and proving yourself right. These are the thoughts that will take control of your mind. It closes your reality from your brain. You need to start by observing how things work around you. Observe someone right in that field. Then learn the rules after seeing them.

Step 2: Acquire New Skill ( Practice Mode)

First, you must start with one skill that you can become proficient in. This is a foundation for learning other different types of crafts. You need to avoid the idea that you can learn multiple skills at one go. You need to concentrate on learning various skills at one go. It is the death of you to aim at multiple skills at one go.

Second, the first stages of mastering a new skill are tedious. Rather than avoid the tediousness, you need to accept the entire thing. Make sure you know how to embrace it. The boredom we go through at the first stage of learning makes our minds tough. It is like a brain exercise. Too many people think that everything in life must be a pleasure. That makes them distracted and always looking for a shortcut out of the learning operation.

Greene states that focusing and working profoundly is essential. The process of acquiring a new skill cannot be attained if you are always distracted. The transition between one task to another will not get you anywhere. In other words, neural pathways in achieving this mastery never form. What you learn becomes too insubstantial to stay in the brain. It is better to use three hours to hone one skill then spend eight hours of non-focused attention on it. You need to know that what you are doing now is as focused as possible.

Step 3: Experimenting ( Active Mode )

Once you attain more understanding and expertise, you move into the active mode. You take the skill and use it on yourself. You need to break out of the rules and create a system on your own.

Tactics To Complete The Perfect Apprenticeship

Value the art of learning over salary:

Einstein worked at a patent office to give himself some resources on his thought experiments. Survive with little money and learn as much as possible.

Expand Your Perspectives:

Mix with many different types of people and grab their ideas. These people contribute to your learning curve. Whenever you are sitting comfortably in one group, stir up. Make new friends and accept new challenges.

Revert To Thinking That You Are A Starter:

If we think we already know everything, then we halt the learning process. We need to feel like beginners and keep on learning.

Trust The Procedure:

It takes more time. As long as you are learning, you will move towards acquiring the master skill.

Move Towards The Pain To Obtain Skill:

Once we are great at a particular skill, we tend to keep repeating as it is easy to do so. We avoid our weakness because it stops us from learning. We need to accept new challenges and keep fighting on. Making sure that we know where we want to go is very important.

Learn From Failure:

When a machine breaks down, it’s letting you know how you need to fix it. When you fail, treat yourself like a broken machine and fix your failure. Self-motivate and educate yourself.

Combine “How” with “What”:

Gain a full understanding of the whole skill set. Don’t just understand the recipe of the skill, learn the entire thing.

Move Forward Via Trial and Error:

To test out different roads and learn new skills, avoid a fixed work path. Spend your 20s moving around different paths and learn everything you can the way you go. In this modern era, people that follow a singular path will find their work road dead in their forties. They also feel bored with their work hence. The comprehensive skill set you can acquire in your twenties will expand your prospect as you age.

  1. Absorb The Guru’s Power: Dynamics of The Guru

The relationship between the mentor and his disciple is an efficient way of learning something new. The right Guru knows where to make you focus your attention. They can challenge you in the right direction. Soon you will inherit all their knowledge and expertise. This means that you will get immediate feedback on your work, and you will improve fast. As you go through one-on-one coaching, you learn. The thing you learn is a high power that is adept to your spirit. Pick the right mentor that fits your needs. You also get to connect your Life’s Mission. Once you have gained all the expertise, you need to move on and do not remain. Your objective is to be better than your mentor.

To learn something, you need to feel humble. We have to admit there are people out there that know the sector much more than we do. It is not a process of talent, but a skill honed with experience.

If you focus on yourself first, you need to create a solid work ethic and organizational skills. Once you have done all that, the right Guru will appear. Although one mentor at a time is best, you cannot always get a perfect one. In this case, you need to reach your destination with several gurus at a time. Each Guru will fill up your gap in each skill set. Having more than one guru has other benefits, as they will link you up on other people. You can rely on several allies much later. However, if circumstances happen and you are limited to contacts, you can always read more books. Eg. Improvement of the Mind. An apprenticeship is not difficult to find or complete. However, to complete mastery is even harder. Once you have learned the entire skillset, you need to set off all alone. After that, you need to throw everything that you learned out of the window.

However, Greene states we need to keep an open mind. Like a young kid, we have to keep our minds open. Challenge every single thing that we know. There are rules our Guru teaches us — common ways of doing the skills that have been acquired.

Which of these skills is universal? Which skills can be broken or banished? By the time you finish the apprenticeship, you have created your unique style. That is when you can allow yourself to grow and build something great. A true guru can only do this. So, never stop learning. But is it worth the price? You can either procrastinate or start today.

Strategies For Strengthening The Guru Dynamic

Choose a guru according to your needs:

In the real-life scenario, the right choice was what your parents didn’t give you. This might have been confidence, space or wisdom. Look for gurus that can do that, and beware of falling into traps. Do not pick a guru that resembles your parents that have all of their traits too. You are repeating the same mistake twice.

Look deep into the mirror of your Guru:

The Guru can show you where you are at your weakest. You must not be afraid to face it and embrace it. Get used to criticism and welcome it. Only through honest feedback will you become confident again.

Conjure the Guru’s ideas:

As you learn the lessons of your Guru, you begin to use them on yourself. Don’t copy them, think of how to win them. One day you will be better than them.

Create a constant change back and forth:

You need to push back to the Guru to know what he wants. Work on a stable relationship between each other and adjust to learning instructions. Eventually, things learned will fit your needs.

  1. Social Intelligence: See People As Who They Are

Often the most significant roadblock to our road to master the apprenticeship comes from emotions draining. We deal with people that manipulate us and resist us. If we are not cautious, our minds get mixed up with endless problems and conflicts. The biggest challenge we face in this area is our tendency to tell people what we desire at present. We completely misread their intentions and react in the wrong manner. This then leads to conflict. Social intelligence is a tactic to view people in the most realistic light possible. By going past our self-absorption, we must learn to read others and comprehend their behaviour. We can then discover what motivates them and get rid of any tendencies of manipulation. 

The time we receive will be used on learning and mastering new skills. The success that has been attained without intelligence is not a real mastering and won’t last long.

Specific Knowledge – How To Read People

You need to know how to acquire the skill to view people just as they are. To start the process, you need to train yourself to pay less attention to what they say and more to how they say it. 

Make sure to focus instead on their body language. Many of the signals that you get might not be expressed verbally. If you can lead the person to becoming more emotional, a lot more will be revealed. The objective is to identify what makes people unique. This will let them understand the character that is their core values in life.

Strategies For Obtaining Social Intelligence

Speak as you go through your work: 

If you face conflict at work, keep yourself focused. Do not be affected by all of the issues. Instead, remain focused and speak to everyone while doing the work. Both you and your colleague will raise your skill level at work. This will allow both of you to stand out among the others. Those that complain but do nothing have no use.

Create the proper character:

You must know that creating the right attitude is a primary objective in social intelligence. It is not evil or demonic. Everyone wears masks in the social environment. We all play different roles to suit the different situations that we go through. One simply becomes more aware of the entire process, Think of it as a facade we put on. By creating a mysterious character, you are telling the public something. That thing is going to give them something to be pleasurable to witness. You allow them to create an image or fantasy about you and focus their attention on you.

See yourself as others see you:

Some of us or most of us, have social flaws. Some are just harmless, while some flaws might put us in immediate danger. Perhaps we talk too much or too critical to others. We might over criticize someone based on honesty, or get offended when people reject our ideology. We need to be honest with ourselves on what these flaws are. We also need to view the conflicts that we have and how our actions have created them.

Suffer fools gladly

When you deal with fools, there is a philosophy you sell with. Clowns are a part of life, like rock and sand. All of us are foolish in a way; in moments, we lose our heads where we gain more ego. We also have more short-term goals. It is just human quirks. Seeing yourself as foolish, we then accept it in other people. This will allow you to smile at their foolishness and tolerate their own faults. However, we should never change them.

  1. Awaken The Congruent Brain: Creative-Active

As you gain more skills and learn rules from your field, your mind will become more active. You can use this knowledge in other ways to suit your preferences. What will hinder this creative dynamic from getting better is not your talent but your attitude. If we feel insecure, you will start to conserve your knowledge and start fitting into the group. You must force yourself in the opposite direction. Once you emerge from your mastery, you must become bold. Instead of feeling proud of what you know, you must continue to search for more knowledge. It lets your mind generate new ideas. You also must start looking at problems at different angles. While your thinking grows, your mind will become more dimensional. 

In the end, you will turn and shape rules that  suit your spirit. Such a mindset will make you more powerful. The objective is to incarnate your dimensional mind. Keep growing and learning. Do not get stuck in any way or restrain yourself.

Step One: The Imaginative Objective

The project that you want to work on must have an obsessive component. Just like a mirror to the Life’s Task, it must link to your inner soul. It is an option where you focus your energy on. This makes it the mastery. Your commitment and emotions related to what you are doing will make you a successful person. Make sure to pick something that is rebellious and maintains your feelings in touch. Keep a few things in mind when executing your task: It has to be realistic while being at your reach. If you want your life to be safe, this task will fill your life with anxiety. If you worry about what other people think about you, or your group position, you will never create anything.

Step 2: Creative Plans

The mind will clamp down unless you exercise it once a while. Use five tactics to open up your brain:

  • Adapt to negativity
  • Allow for lucky occurrences
  • Alternate thoughts and reality
  • Alternate your perspective of things
  • Think beyond specific knowledge 
  1. Combine Inherence with Reason: Mastery

All of us have access to a higher level of intelligence. This lets us see more of the world and anticipate trends. We tend to react with accuracy to any other circumstance. Knowledge is created by putting ourselves in a sector of study. Then we stay true to our inclinations, no matter how this approach looks to others. However, over the years, we start gaining an intuition for complex issues of our expertise. 

When we combine this intuition with reasoning, we exercise our minds to the very limits. As we reach our minds to outer limits, our potential grows, and we can see the core of life itself. By doing so, we obtain the best knowledge that the universe has given us. 

We have the power to reach the instinct given to us. We also have the consciousness of a wild animal. The predator animal. The power of what our brains are created to attain, and we eventually reach this intelligence if we conquer our mastery at the very end. We must not worry as this is a long and arduous journey. We will master the skill at the very end of the day. As for intuition, the more we use it, the better it becomes. We soon turn into assassins as well, except we are killing people with knowledge. Our potential with sixth sense amplifies the more we use it. We can use it to detect enemies all around us. This benefits us a lot.

The Roots of Masterly Intuition

Our intuition is usually a quiet voice, difficult to hear and decode. This is why we tend to pay it no attention. All gurus talk of this phenomenon. However, over time we can train ourselves to notice the patterns and hints. 

We need to act on these intuitions. Some are useless; others have significant impacts on our lives. Over time, Guru can call up lots of high-level intuitions. These brain waves are growing all over the brain. After that, we access thinking regularly, and we will combine it with reasoning. This makes thinking much stronger. A desire for something simple infects many people that we are not aware of. We need to learn to tone down the anxiety that we face anything chaotic.

Tactics Of Learning Mastery

Primal Powers: Connect to the environment

We can connect deeply to the environment in a primal way. This can be a very powerful experience. The brain can bring us there.

Supreme Focus: Upgrade Yourself Through Practice

Mastery is like taking a swim. You cannot move forward when you swim against the current. You must know what you are good at and use the current to impulse our movements.

The Fingertip Feel: Transform Yourself By Practicing

If we are trying to learn a complicated skill, like flying a plane, we need to master some skills. This works by piling up skill over skill. Each time an ability is determined, the mind frees up. It then focuses on a better set of skills. There are always new skills to learn and improve ourselves.

The Life Force: Make Inner Details About Yourself

Seeing your work as a real-life being, your entire mastery objective is to learn and master the skill. It reaches a point when you feel the life force can express it without much effort.

Global Perspective: Widen Your Vision

In a competitive environment, there are winners, and there are losers. A person can think beyond the moment and focus instead in a more positive way of thinking.

Inside Out Look: Submission to another

We cannot experience what other people are going through. This is part of another universal process. This extends your knowledge to other things. We obtain new knowledge when we learn from others.

Author’s Biography

Robert Greene was born in 1959 and currently resides in New York. He penned several bestselling books on the subjects of power and strategy. His most popular titles include: The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, The 50th Law (with rapper 50 Cent), Mastery, and The Laws of Human Nature.

Greene’s books are recommended for those interested in self-improvement.

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