Mastery: Summary Review & Takeaways

This is a summary review of Mastery containing key details about the book.

What is Mastery About?

Mastery examines the lives of historical figures such as Charles Darwin and Henry Ford, as well as the lives of contemporary leaders such as Paul Graham and Freddie Roach, and examines what led to their success. It relays a message that each one of us has the potential within us to be a Master in whatever we do.

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Who is the Author of Mastery?

Robert Greene is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, and The 50th Law. Greene attended U.C. Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he received a degree in classical studies.

What are the main summary points of Mastery?

Here are some key summary points from the book:

  • Mastery is where you don’t think, you just respond because of a strong connection between mind and body. When someone is repeated over and over, it becomes automatic. Bobby Fischer’s chess-playing ability is an example of this.
  • As human beings, we are all in search of feeling more connected to reality—to other people, the natural world, our character, and our own uniqueness. Our culture increasingly tends to separate us from these realities in various ways
  • The pressures from society mean that a lot of our individuality and uniqueness is suppressed. We want to to unlock this uniqueness and uncover our inner voice to find our true calling. If you feel deep down that a field is right for you, it most probably is.
  • Rather than choosing a role based on money, look for something where you can learn and grow. Knowledge and wisdom are more important than money. Just take Freddie Roach, Charles Darwin or Benjamin Franklin as examples.
  • When learning, we make a lot of unnecessary mistakes that result in wasted time. Find a mentor to prevent this. You can form a symbiotic relationship, inspiring and empowering one another. Who knows, eventually your skills may even exceed your mentor, such was the case with Alexander the Great.
  • Mastery is dependent on the intensity of your focus. To achieve mastery, you want to focus your efforts, exercise courage and release the inner child.
  • The most satisfying and powerful way to feel a connection to ourselves is through creative activity. Engaged in the creative process we feel more alive because we are making something and not merely consuming. In doing this work, we are creating ourselves.
  • The most effective attitude to adopt in relation to life is one of supreme acceptance. You may not be able to change "dark people" at their core, but you can avoid becoming their victim. You can be an observer of the human comedy, and by being as tolerant as possible, you gain a much greater ability to understand people and to influence their behavior when necessary
  • True Zen never stops to learn. He or she is always a student. You want to always continually start over and challenge yourself. Without suffering and doubts, the mind will come to rest on clichés and stay there, until the spirit dies as well.
  • To be more creative, widen your mind. Don’t just assume your way of doing things is the best way. Question everything. Then, develop your brain to find connections. The future belongs to those who learn more skills and integrate them in creative ways.
  • Repeated failure will toughen your spirit, expand your knowledge and show you with clarity how things must be done. Real failure comes from never trying out your ideas because you are afraid or because you are waiting for the perfect time.
  • People constantly change their ideas by the day or by the hour, depending on their mood. Don't assume that what people say or do in a particular moment is a statement of their permanent desires.
  • In the future, the great division will be between those who can acquire skills and discipline their minds and those who are irrevocably distracted by all the media around them and can never focus enough to learn.

What are key takeaways from Mastery?

Takeaway #1 What Is Mastery?

Mastery is when your mind and/or body responds automatically, usually witnessed during an emergency situation. Mastering mastery is to get your mind and body acting as one every day so that you can dismiss focusing on the details to see the big picture; you don't need to know the how, you just do it... Whatever that 'it' is for you. Animals act in this way all of the time, they don't stop and ponder or second guess themselves out of something! It's thought that our ancestors didn't either, it's only since us humans developed critical thought that mind and body have become separated. When mind and body become one again you will be able to reach a new level of understanding and skill which will unlock your own inner genius allowing you to accomplish many great things in your chosen field.

Unfortunately, due to social pressures, many people suppress their desires and uniqueness in order to blend in with the crowd. They don't follow their inner calling whether that's a desire to paint, write a novel, teach, or cure diseases. Know that the little voice inside of you is always right, get brave and follow it!

Takeaway #2 Seek Practical Knowledge Over Money

When people seek out a new job they're usually chasing more money and/or a better position or title. Rarely do they take a new job because of the opportunity to learn and spend time working at their inner calling but this is where mastery can be found. Practical knowledge is invaluable and will guide you to better money and a prestige title later on. Know that it's ok to reject opportunities that others will call you crazy for missing out on to go back to the basics. Just look at Charles Darwin for inspiration, he turned down a place at medical school and a well paid job in the church to go study exotic plants and animals as an unpaid naturalist onboard the HMS Beagle which is where the theory of evolution began!

Having a mentor can work wonders in helping you learn something new, they will be able to save you time and money ensuring you stay on track and don't make the same mistakes they did. But for the relationship to work well, the mentor must be someone whom you truly admire and someone who is willing to take you under their wing, happy to share all of their knowledge with someone eager to learn.

Takeaway #3 Step Up To & Out Of The Box

There will come a day when you outmatch your mentor, this is when you start moving forward on your own with a wide open mind that's free of fear. You'll need to imagine you're a child again, one who can easily believe in mythical creatures and who questions everything that adults take for granted so that you can think in new ways, be open to solving problems, and challenging the rules already in place.

Thankfully it is possible to train the brain to think outside the box, you just have to broaden your mind at every opportunity, leaving the narrowmindedness behind. No longer can you be a creature of habit, doing things on repeat simply because you or others have always done it that way. Remember that trying too hard to solve a problem can have the opposite effect too, get your creative mind away from the problem by doing something else such as taking the dog for a walk and you might find you have a Eureka moment.

Book details

  • Print length: 318 Pages
  • Audiobook: 16 hrs and 9 mins
  • Genre: Nonfiction, Self Help, Psychology, Business, Personal Development

What are the chapters in Mastery?

Chapter One - Discover Your Calling
Chapter Two - Submit to Reality
Chapter Three - Absorb The Master's Power
Chapter Four - See People As They Are
Chapter Five - Awaken the Dimensional Mind
Chapter Six - Fuse the Intuitive With the Rational: Mastery

What is a good quote from Mastery?

[Favorite Quote]: “The time that leads to mastery is dependent on the intensity of our focus.” (Meaning)

― Robert Greene - Mastery Quotes

What do critics say?

Here's what one of the prominent reviewers had to say about the book: "Greene’s specialty is analyzing the lives and philosophies of historical figures like Sun Tzu and Napoleon, and extracting from them tips on how to manipulate people and situations—a cutthroat worldview that has earned him a devoted following among a like-minded readership of rappers, drug dealers and corporate executives." — The New York Times

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* The summary points above have been concluded from the book and other public sources. The editor of this summary review made every effort to maintain information accuracy, including any published quotes, chapters, or takeaways

Reading is Smart. Applying is Smarter:  Apply

Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

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