Mastery, the book, provides an in–depth analysis of what it takes to become a master, aka, genius at anything. Robert Greene does a wonderful job of diagnosing what he calls the Conventional Mind, the conventions of our human capability ranging from neurological, circumstantial, and historical that leads to our current mindset hurdles to mastery.
Culture has adopted genius as the excuse to label those, mostly dead, icons that seemed to accomplish super human feats. Unwrapping genius and creativity in different masters of many genres has been a fascinating and enlightening dive into artists in their own right such as Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, and Paul Graham.
As the author unpacks these stories he defines an outline of progression for anyone seeking to acquire mastery in a chosen field. Some of the highlights for me were:
- Einstein's tenacity toward unconventional study to understand how things work and to tinker his way to a mastery of physics and math while holding down a ‘mindless’ day job
- Mozart's early love of learning piano (encouraged by a musical father) and afterward his father's rigorous musical expectations to perform the classics for dignitaries, ‘child labor’, before realizing composition was his true passion
- Leonardo da Vinci, born to a dignitary, yet a bastard child, and as a result not given the standard upper–crust attention to classical education yet as a young boy had a keen in interest in diagnosing nature's details on long walks leading to a focus of capturing those details on paper in the form of sketches. Thus, drawing him to the arts and an eventual apprenticeship with a master painter.
- The Wright Brothers hands–on mechanical training in bicycles that led them to believe they could beat aeronautical PHD's with limitless funding to the invention of flight.
- From the Middle Ages up to the Renaissance era, we find masters of all forms of trades, ranging from Leonardo to Benjamin Franklin, mostly a result of up to 10 year apprenticeships in a narrow field of study afforded to the elite ranging from Leonardo to Benjamin Franklin, who were without modern general education.
This book had great takeaways to apply personally. I found myself highlighting and re–reading as I unwrapped the steps to mastery that each one took and what could be applied to humans, who all have a ‘conventional mind’.