Practical Wisdom From The Worlds Greatest Masters

I recently read Robert Greene’s best selling book, Mastery. Greene dives into the lives of some of the greatest Masters both past and present. He provides amazing insights into the minds of these greats, analyzing the common threads underlying their success. The book is a detailed, yet practical guide to acheiving mastery in your own field. The overall narrative of the book points to the fact that Mastery is not a function of genius or talent, and is instead a result of certain behaviour patterns. I’ve synthesized my notes and highlighted some practical peices of wisdom:

Your 20’s is for learning as many skills as possible

Avoid the trap of following one set career path. Follow the direction of your deepest interests and move by trial and error. Consistently apply yourself to the subject that suits your inclinations, attacking it from different angles. Others may view this as a lack of commitment, but you are focused on expanding your skillset and eventually the right idea or opportunity will present itself to you. You should view any setbacks, hardships or failures as a part of the process, like enriching seeds being planted in your mind. Masters have a strong inner guiding system and an extremely high level of self-awareness. They are able to identify their strengths and move with them. Masters opt out of the conventional route and instead forge their own path forward. This type of mindset requires that you develop a strong sense of self-confidence and self-awareness.

Child-like creativity

Children are curious, creative and inquisitive little beings. They view and experience the world around them with the utmost intensity and excitement. But somewhere between childhoold and adulthood we lose that innate curiousity and creative spark. Masters are able to retain this childlike state of excitement and creativity, and channel it into their work. We all possess creative abilities and can tap into these innate powers by re-exploring the things that we loved most as children. Ask yourself what activities you enjoyed the most as a child (maybe it was painting, writing or dancing) and turn that activity into a daily habit. This helps to re-awaken the latent creative power within us.

Approach your work with intensity

A haphazard work ethic slows down the learning process. You must immerse yourself in the learning process and seek to understand the subject of study from the inside out. When we view our work as something that is alive, which possesses a vital spirit, we are able to intensify our engagement with what we are learning. The time required to reach levels of mastery is dependent on the intensity of your focus. As we continue to learn and grow it is important not to simply absorb the information you are learning, but to find ways to put this knowledge to practical use. Conventional thinkers merely consume, while dimensional thinkers are able to transmute everything their mind absorbs into something new and original.

Embrace slowness

In the initial phases of your creative endevours, it is important to build in a period of open-ended wandering. You need to set deadlines, but by starting with a loose and unfocused manner you allow yourself time to dream. When we start projects with a feeling of tightness and pressure, we turn the work into something without joy. Not only does this drain us of our vital energy, but we feel a sense of impatience and a desire to get to the end. By embracing slowness you derive pleasure from the laboursome learning process. It has also been proven that after 10,000 hours of practice, the brain is altered and we begin to develop an intuitive feel for whatever it is we are doing. Masters have an ability to make sudden connections between disparate forms of knowledge and intuit patterns or solutions in an instant. You don’t develop this ability overnight, so embrace the process.

Develop strong social intelligence

When we become embroiled in conflict or drama, its consumes our minds and distracts us from learning. Therefore it is important for you to cultivate positive and productive social relations. In order to do this you must understand the basic fundamentals of human psychology and develop an acute ability to read people. Learn to step into the minds of others, understand their worldview, motivations and behaviour patterns. In time, you will develop an ability to see into the minds of others, allowing you to navigate any social setting. This ability to “think inside others minds” also helps to develop your intuitive powers.