book review mastery robert greene

Book Review: Mastery by Robert Greene

“Mastery— the feeling that we have a great command of reality, other people and ourselves.” ~~ Robert Greene (Book: Mastery)

Mastery is the second Robert Green I read. It’s been a while. For some reason or another I kept stalling completing the review.

Without wasting time, let’s find out the lesson from Robert Greene’s ‘Mastery’:

Lesson 1: Find Your True Aim (Life’s Task):

To find out what your real goal in life is, you first need to know yourself and what it is that you connect to, or once upon a time connected to.  

Find out what task calls to you intensely and on a level that’s indescribable. If you discover a couple of ideas that call to you then start with one at first. Once you’ve successfully completed that task or have achieved some success, then you’d find time to explore your other interest.

But don’t multitask and divide your attention.

You also must be in love with your chosen field as following the path to mastery is not easy. You will have to subject yourself to continuous working, improvement and apprenticeship over a long period of time.

If you don’t connect with your work on a deeper level, then chances of you quitting are high when you encounter some or a couple of obstacles in your way.

Also, after a while, even the work you love can become monotonous. What keeps you motivated to go on is your connection to the task you’ve chosen.


“It is a simple law of human physiology that your thoughts will tend to revolve around what you value most.” ~~ Robert Greene (Book: Mastery)


Lesson 2: Your Motivation Behind Following Your Goal Should Be Greater Than Your Desire To Earn Quick Money:

Your desire to create something of your own should be your motivation rather desire to earn huge sums of money as soon as possible. Here are the reasons:

1: If you are following the only money, then you might stop chasing your dream/goal in the midst when you find money isn’t flowing as you’d expected. Following mastery is not a get rich quick scheme.

2: Or you might become comfortable with whatever little sum you’d start earning and stop taking risks. In that case your work would suffer in the long run as you stop improving your skills.

3: If you are taking up a job before you start your own business to learn the industry trends, then you motivation should not be money or prestige your job gives you. You should focus on how that particular job adds to your skills and helps you move towards your ultimate goal of becoming a master of your chosen subject/field.


“You must choose places of work and positions that offer the greatest possibilities for learning.” ~~ Robert Greene (Book: Mastery)


Lesson 3: Learn To Socialize With Different Types of People and Effectively Handle Fools:

Whether you like to socialize or not, you should never ever isolate yourself from people and society in general. Connect with as many people you can.


“In this diverse, multicultural world; it is best that you learn how to mingle and blend into all types of environments, giving yourself maximum flexibility.” ~~ Robert Greene (Book: Mastery)


Also, learn to ‘suffer fools gladly’. I believe we all have the tendency to behave foolishly in some manner sometime in life. I do agree with the author that some people just don’t know when to stop or grow up ever.

Don’t spend too much time in fools’ company. If you would spend too much time in such people’s company then they’d drag you to their level too, making you forget about your goals.

You must never lose connection with your Life’s Task. Instead, lose your connection with fools gently or try to maintain as much distance as possible. You should also be on your guard against people’s envy of your progress.

You should also not waste precious time and energy trying to change anyone’s rigid views on any subject. Let them exist the way they want to. It’s not your job to reform them. You concentrate on keeping your own mind open and free of constraints.

Always remember your goal is not to reform people, but achieve mastery over your skills. Learn to understand their viewpoint without losing your own perspective.

You should follow your own path in life and should try to break free of rigid thought patterns. 


Lesson 4: Find a Mentor:

Some people can complete mastery all by themselves. Find out if you are one such individual.

If you find it tough to master a skill on your own, then it’s a wise decision to start your search for a mentor. Someone who knows more than you and would be ready to teach you.  

Having a mentor will save you from making too many mistakes, courtesy valuable feedback from your mentor. But don’t stay an apprentice all your life, make your own way when it time.


Lesson 5: Learn To View Your Work Objectively:

It’s difficult to maintain distance from something that you create. Often we are blind to flaws in our creations.


You must learn to maintain some distance from your work so you can analyze it and improve it as per requirement. Learn to handle criticism; not all criticism is meant to pull you down. Feedback is necessary to improve your work.

If you think someone’s being unnecessarily critical of your work, just don’t pay attention to their words. There’s no point in wasting your time either trying to change someone’s opinion or taking offense and dwelling over it.

Also, don’t fall prey to praise. If you’re good or are getting better as your practice, you’d get many.

Praise makes you complacent and proud of your work. After a while, you might not even be able to spot the most visible flaws in your work, if praise goes to your head.


“Greater danger comes from success and praise than from criticism. If we learn to handle criticism well, it can strengthen us and help us become aware of flaws in our work. Praises generally does harm.” ~~ Robert Greene (Book: Mastery)



Minus Points:

Some of the points in this book give a ‘déjà-vu’ kind of a feeling. It’s repetition of one sentiment again and again. I’m not sure if that’s the case with every book the author has written, but some suggestions are quite similar in ‘Mastery’ and ‘The 50th Law’.

I remember reading something like ‘you’re one of your kind’ in The 50th Law as well.

I have no idea what to do with the theory of 10,000 hours. I don’t believe in it.

Nor, I believe in disrespecting talent some are born with, something self-help gurus go around doing, IMO to get more audience. It seems self-help books want everyone to believe they have it.

The truth is, not everyone has everything. Not everyone has talent, not everyone would be a master of anything, not everyone would be rich and not everyone would be a boss. Unfortunately, that’s life.

In my opinion, you need talent, if not a lot, but some, plus a strong desire to work with patience in your chosen field.

If you don’t have talent or even desire/interest in your work, then it’s called ‘job’ which most people do have.

Also, I don’t think any or everyone in the world should be a ‘Master’. My point is: Who said everyone living on this planet, even wants to become a ‘Master’?

Everyone has their own wishes, desires and goals in life and sometimes ‘Mastery’ is not part of their short-term or even long-term to-do list. That is okay!

And if for a minute we believe that everyone should master their loved field, now the question in that scenario is:

Do we all have what it takes to become a Master and put our life goal over and above everything else in life, including relationships? What kind of society that would be when all kinds of people are required?

And what would we do with so many ‘eccentric’ Masters? What? You didn’t know creative’s are slightly unhinged.

Plus Points:

There are so many books you can read! They are listed at the end.

Of course the whole book is part biography and part inspirational self-help book. I found the points more helpful than what is in a typical self-help book you would read.

Whether you believe everything the author has mentioned or not, whether you intend to pursue mastery or not, still one thing is true, it’s an interesting book.

And it’s quite inspiring, in case you are pursuing ‘Mastery’ in your chosen field. But if you’re then maybe you don’t have time to read this book.

Hit or Miss: Hit.

Ratings: 4stars/5.

Buy: Amazon   |  iTunes

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