Book Review: Mastery

Published on April 22, 2018

Mastery is a book about how to becoming an expert in something. Anything. It provides a framework to unlock your fullest potential.

I read the shorter version, only 207 small pages, by Robert Greene.

Discover your true calling

You possess an inner force that seeks to guide you towards your Life’s Task – your true calling.

In childhood, this force was clear eg. your inclination towards certain toys or activities.

But social pressures weaken this force.

Find your true calling. Put yourself in the shoe of a dying sociology professor, or dying computer science professor, or dying neurosurgeon.

What will you fight for?


The goal of an apprenticeship is not money, but rather the transformation of mind and character.

You must choose places of work and positions that offer the greatest possibilities for learning.

There will be 3 modes:

  1. Deep observation (passive)
  2. Skills acquisition (practice)
  3. Experimentation (active)

You observe the rules, procedures, and also the power relationships within groups. Observe, analyze, and asking the “how”.

How do things work? How do decisions get made? How does the group interact?

You must practice repeatedly a skill. You need to substain solid practice of 10,000 hours (or 7-10 years).

A mentor will help to guide you, to streamline the process, thus saving you time.

Social Intelligence

The greatest obstacle during the pursuit of mastery would be other humans.

You need to know how to work with others, knowing to certain extend the human psychology.

Understand that there are 7 negative qualities/deadly realities: Envy, Conformism, Rigidity, Self-obsessiveness, Laziness, Flightiness, and Passive Aggression

You cannot change people at their core, but must avoid becoming their victim.

Classify people as fools by the following rubrics: placing importance on short-term gains eg. grabbing immediate money, getting attention, looking good

How to deal with fools? They are part of life. Unavoidable. Embrace it. Tolerate their pressence as you would a silly child. Avoid the madness of trying to change them.

Creative Active

Masters blend discipline & a childlike spirit together into Dimensional Mind.

You need discipline to focus and to learn during the long apprenticeship phrase.

To awaken the dimensional mind,

  1. choose the proper creative task
  2. loosen and open up the mind
  3. optimize mental conditions for a breakthrough/insight

Keep a notebook with you at all times. Note down any idea or observation the moment you had them. The juxtaposition of so many random bits will be enought to spark various associations.


Human recognizes rationality as the only legitimate form of intelligence because this form of thinking is extremely effective, can be examined, verified, and applied to all.

But, intuition, the ultimate sign of mastery, involves a process that is opposite of rationality.

Masters don’t simply see the parts, but gain an intuitive feel for the whole – including the complex and dynamic relationships between all the parts.

Lastly, Mastery is not just function of time and intese focus applied to a particular domain. There is another element X.

X is self-confidence and self-awareness, a point where Masters make a choice at a key moment in their lives/careers: they decided to forge their own route.

Other worthy notes

We are entering a world in which we can rely less and less upon the state, the corporation, or family or friends (to help or to protect us).

We are in a globalized, harshly competitive environment. Individualized, creative skills will be at a premium.

The animal world can be divided into two types – specialists and opportunists.

We humans are the ultimate opportunists, the least specialized of all. Our entire brain is geared toward looking for any kind of “opening”.

You are the supreme hunter, ever alert, eyes scannignt he landscape for the fact that will expose a once-hidden reality, with profound consequences.