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Mastery

Myths about genius and what it really means to be great

By Robert Greene
12-minute read
Audio available
Mastery by Robert Greene

In Mastery (2012), author Robert Greene argues and illustrates that everybody can achieve mastery of a skill or field if they follow the established steps of historical and present-day masters. Based on interviews and studies of some of the best in their respective fields, Greene provides a diverse array of tips and strategies on how to become a master.

  • Anyone who is new to a field or subject
  • Anyone who has just finished school and is thinking about what to do with their life
  • Anyone who has worked in a certain field for a long time and is frustrated because they’re not advancing to a higher level

Robert Greene has a degree in classical studies and claims to have worked in over 80 different jobs. He’s known for his – sometimes controversial – books on strategy, seduction and power, including the bestsellers The 48 Laws of Power, The 33 Strategies of War, The Art of Seduction and, with rapper 50 Cent, The 50th Law.

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Mastery

By Robert Greene
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
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Mastery by Robert Greene
Synopsis

In Mastery (2012), author Robert Greene argues and illustrates that everybody can achieve mastery of a skill or field if they follow the established steps of historical and present-day masters. Based on interviews and studies of some of the best in their respective fields, Greene provides a diverse array of tips and strategies on how to become a master.

Key idea 1 of 8

You don’t need inborn talent to become a master; just follow the steps of masters before you.

Most people think that the extraordinary accomplishments of great masters like Da Vinci and Mozart stemmed from natural talent and inherent genius.  

But it’s not true. There is, in fact, no natural link between inborn talent and the mastery of a skill or field.

As one study showed, while many young children display blazing talent, relatively few of them ever go on to remarkable achievement. On the other hand, those who show little sign of brilliance in school often later accomplish far more than their gifted peers.

For example, consider Charles Darwin’s younger cousin, Sir Francis Galton. Whereas Darwin was an ordinary boy who showed no sign of exceptional intellect, Galton had a higher IQ and was considered a prodigious genius. Yet today, it’s Darwin who’s regarded as the superior scientist and one of the century’s brightest minds.

Clearly, mastery does not depend on whether you’re gifted or “ordinary.” So what steps do both a maverick genius and a regular person take to become masters? 

The answer is: exactly those steps taken by every great master throughout history. Each discovered their field, engaged in some kind of apprenticeship, developed a creative and open mind, then went on to achieve mastery. Edison, Mozart, Einstein, Goethe – the most celebrated masters throughout history all followed a similar path to success.

Modern masters, too, take the same steps. For example, professional boxer Freddie Roach dreamed of becoming a boxer, apprenticed with the great trainer Eddie Futch, and created a unique fighting style. Roach is now considered one of the best boxing trainers of his generation.

You don’t need inherited gifts, early talent or a high IQ to become a master. Just find your field or subject and follow the steps of the great masters before you.

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