Frank Voisin is the author of the popular value focused website Frankly Speaking, found at http://www.FrankVoisin.com
By Robert Greene
Robert Greene has made a career of studying the lives of successful people in order to find commonalities from which he can extract meaning. His past books, The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, and The 50th Law, are the practical output of his research, each with a focus on a particular skill and how successful practitioners mastered that skill.
At the heart of Greene’s books is the thesis that the skills he focuses on are not with us from birth, but rather can be developed with the right framework. This is no different in his fifth book, Mastery:
The basic elements of this story are repeated in the lives of all of the great Masters in history: a youthful purpose or predilection, a chance encounter that allows them to discover how to apply it, an apprenticeship in which they come alive with energy and focus. They excel by their ability to practice harder and move faster through the process, all of this stemming from the intensity of their desire to learn and from the deep connection they feel to their field of study. And at the core of this intensity of effort is in fact a quality that is genetic and inborn – not talent or brilliance, which is something that must be developed, but rather a deep and powerful inclination toward a particular subject.
In Mastery, Greene steps back from specific skills and takes a broader view of success, analyzing what it means to achieve mastery in any skill. In studying this, he widens his scope beyond that of his previous books to a group of subjects stretching from antiquity through to the present day, in fields as diverse as fighter pilots to statesmen, boxing coaches to physicists. After exhaustively studying (and in some cases interviewing) these masters, Greene distilled six major themes to each of which he devoted a chapter:
- Discover Your Calling: The Life’s Task
- Submit To Reality: The Ideal Apprenticeship
- Absorb The Master’s Power: The Mentor Dynamic
- See People As They Are: Social Intelligence
- Awaken The Dimensional Mind: The Creative-Active
- Fuse The Intuitive With The Rational: Mastery
Each chapter is helpfully broken down further into sub-lessons, and within each chapter and sub-lesson Greene includes numerous anecdotes from the lives of the masters to help illustrate his point.
Overall I quite enjoyed Mastery and would easily recommend it to others. I think I added more highlights to the pages of this book than any other I’ve read in the last year. My only quibble would be that Greene’s editors could have been a bit more ruthless, in that there is some repetitiveness and a few of the sections could have been much shorter without losing value. Oh, and I think Warren Buffett should rightfully have been included as a master worthy of study!
If you’ve read Mastery, leave your thoughts below.
Author Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher for review.