Review date: January 6, 2024 — 4 min read
Mastery seeks to guide you toward finding your life's calling and excelling in your chosen field. This is the first novel by Robert Greene I've read. I've been wanting to read The 48 Laws of Power, but picked this up instead after listening to a podcast with Robert Greene where Mastery was discussed and piqued my interest. In the same podcast, Howard Gardner's work on multiple intelligences came up, which I hope to do some reading on in the near future. But for now, here are my thoughts on Robert Greene's Mastery.
Robert Greene's Mastery is a commendable endeavour aimed at inspiring readers. Extensive research and preparation are evident in its pages. While the book contains the right ideas, its slow pace and lengthiness detract from its impact. It could have been more concise. The narrative is enriched with intriguing anecdotes, but they tend to be repetitive and drawn out. Overall, the book doesn't present novel concepts and is best skimmed, offering motivation rather than groundbreaking insights.
Not a book I'd necessarily recommend, besides to people staring their career or individuals lost in their career/life journey.
Mastery is essentially a guide to discovering your true vocation, tailored to your unique composition and mastering it. Greene begins by outlining strategies to uncover your innate calling, urging a reflection on childhood passions. These early joys, often obscured as we age, provide clues to pursuits we're naturally inclined to excel in, making the arduous journey to mastery more bearable.
However, societal influences frequently cloud these inherent interests. Greene advocates revisiting childhood to shed these external pressures, enabling us to pinpoint an activity uniquely suited to our talents and inclinations.
Rather briskly (for a slow paced book), it moves onto how one can begin to become a master in this newly identified area. I personally felt Greene could've lingered more on this topic, perhaps providing more insights and methods for really unlocking that which is right for you. Nonetheless, for the remainder of the book he guides the reader on a path to mastering your unique calling, really becoming the best at it, an outlier.
Using historical anecdotes from renowned figures like Benjamin Franklin, Einstein, and Da Vinci, Greene extracts lessons and advice. I found these rather interesting and despite the bulk they added to the reading. Moreover, the book draws from a wide and diverse range of individual biographies, ensuring that it resonates with a broad spectrum of readers.
By exploring and sharing stories from various backgrounds and walks of life, the book becomes more accessible and relevant, catering to individuals with different upbringings, experiences, and interests.
He describes the journey to mastery as a series of phases, beginning with an apprenticeship period characterized by humility, learning, and observation. Emphasising patience and the importance of mentors, Greene warns against the perils of hastiness.
Thereafter, we're given incremental steps that take us from learners to creators and ultimately masters. Mastery drip feeds the reader stories will lead to a deeper understanding of their field, methods for imbuing our work with our own unique flair and tools to become the very best. The narrative acknowledges the inevitable challenges, reminding readers that there are no shortcuts. We have to do the work. Mastery demands time, effort, and courage to infuse work with personal innovation.
In conclusion, "Mastery" emphasizes the investment of time and passion. It's a call to endure, to innovate, and to rise through trials, ultimately shaping oneself into a master of one's craft.