Brainy Business Book Review: Mastery by Robert Greene

Brainy Business Book Review: Mastery by Robert Greene. A Top 25 Must-Read!

A Top 25 Must-Read

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I’m beyond excited to share today’s post with you for 2 reasons. For one thing, it’s my very first guest post. And even more importantly, it was written by my very own Brainy Business Dad, Mr. Don Fletcher!

My dad is a real career advice guru: he’s read about 500 business books just in the last 15 years. (How did he find the time?? We’ll talk about that in a future post.) He’s famous for it around his office – one year, one of his colleagues dressed up as him for Halloween by wearing a lavender shirt (his signature color) and carrying around a stack of books!

With all those book under his belt, he really knows the good from the bad from the just plain boring. And today he’s giving us a recap of a book that he rates in the top 25 business books of all time. That means it’s better than 95% of the books he’s read!

Read on for a quick guide to the most important lessons from Mastery. Take it away, Dad!

The Brainy Business Book: Mastery by Robert Greene

Mastery, a #1 New York Times best-seller, is an excellent book that provides practical insights for people to discover their purpose and achieve their full natural creative potential.

What is mastery? Greene describes it as “the feeling that we have a greater command of reality, other people and ourselves.” By analyzing numerous examples of successful people, he has identified a three-step process to allow anyone to reach mastery.

Here are the top 4 insights from the book:

Insight #1: Mastery Lies in YOUR Hands

Greene persuasively argues that mastery is primarily determined by one’s actions.   He says that “mastery is not a function of genius or talent. It is a function of time and intense focus applied to a particular field of knowledge.”

“mastery is not a function of genius or talent. It is a function of time and intense focus applied to a particular field of knowledge.” - Robert Greene

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He cites as an example the Wright brothers’ stunning accomplishment of flight. In the race to become the first to create the first flying machine, they were given little chance. The favorite, Samuel Langley, was secretary to the Smithsonian Institution. He had an enormous government grant and big head start.

The brothers, owners of a bicycle shop, had no formal engineering education. They made history with an innovative, lighter-weight design based on principles learned through hours of working with bikes in their shop.

Insight #2: Anyone Can Achieve Mastery

The great news, according to Greene, is that anyone can achieve mastery. He claims that the simple process that leads to mastery is “accessible to all of us.”

For example, Temple Grandin, named by Time magazine in 2010 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, was born with autism. With the help of family and teachers, Temple was able to manage her speech and sensory difficulties. She went on to pursue her academic interest in animal science, eventually becoming a college professor and a highly-sought consultant for farms and zoos.

Insight #3: The 3-Step Path to Mastery

Greene identifies a 3-step process for achieving mastery. His process is based upon the model used by medieval craftspeople to acquire a trade: Apprenticeship, Creative-Active, and Mastery. While the process may seem simple, Greene emphasizes that there are no shortcuts.

Phase 1: Apprenticeship

We begin our journey to mastery with little know-how. During apprenticeship, you transform yourself from an impatient observer to someone who is disciplined and focused.

You value learning over making money. Learning the basic skills that translate into practical knowledge is the goal. And the best path to learning is to find a mentor that fits your needs.

Phase 2: Creative-Active

As future masters emerge from apprenticeship, the goal in this second transformational phase is to find the uniquely creative way you can master a field. This requires self-knowledge and dedication to following a path of experimentation on the way to a comprehensive understanding of the subject.

The stories of nine masters illustrate the importance of experimentation to goal achievement. An archetypal example is jazz master John Coltrane. After he learned the practical skills of playing the saxophone, he began experimenting with styles during collaborations with musical greats Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis. He developed a style known as “sheets of sound” that included hundreds of notes per minute, as well new chord progressions that influenced generations of musicians to follow.

Phase 3: Mastery

In the Mastery phase, our understanding becomes so deep that we see the whole field of expertise clearly. We gain insights and comprehend connections that others do not. Based on historical examples, including Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci, Greene estimates that that full mastery requires 20,000 hours of immersion.

Insight #4: Mastery is the Expression of Your Life’s Purpose

Greene believes that achieving mastery is our unique “Life’s Task,” which emanates from each person’s individuality. This inalienable and deeply personal purpose has a motivating energy of its own: “This primal uniqueness naturally wants to assert and express itself,” he says. He adds:

“Mastery is not a question of genetics or luck, but of following your natural inclinations and the deep desire that stirs you from within.”

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“Feeling that we are called to accomplish something is the most positive way for us to supply [a] sense of purpose and direction.”

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Bottom Line: Worth the Read

Mastery is an awesome book and worth the read for anyone who wants to discover their purpose and achieve their full natural creative potential.

Have you read Mastery? What’s your take? What other books would you like us to review for you? Let me know below in the comments!

*Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one of my affiliate links and make a purchase, I may receive a commission for referring you. This comes at no extra cost to you. I’m grateful for your support!

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9 comments

  1. Nicole @OldSchoolReads says:

    I had never heard of Mastery, but it is definitely my kind of book. Your insights are very helpful to me. I was kind of surprised to see that the author estimates that mastery takes 20,000 hours, since we often hear the 10,000 hour rule. What I’m gathering is that Mastery begins in the mind, but action and training are what gets you to the finish line. Thank you for the recommendation.

  2. Missy says:

    Love the write up of Mastery, for someone. Who doesn’t have time to read the book it gave me enough insight to want to know more and take the time to read it. I am also a huge fan of Don’s knowledge. Missy#massagetherapist

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