Mastery - Robert Greene

Posted by Kamron Paucek
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Mastery - Robert Greene

Seldom have I had the pleasure of finding and reading such an insightful book. The three sections in the Introduction, "The Ultimate Power; The Evolution of Mastery; and The Keys to Mastery" cogently outline the direction the author intends to take us.

The reader is advised that it is a mistake to consider this to be a book of pithy sayings and homilies. Nothing could be further from the truth. In essence, this book is a roadmap for the common person to explore himself, or herself, and to look deeply into the lives of such masters as: Leonardo da Vinci, Alfred Einstein, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Buckminster Fuller, Benjamin Franklin, Martha Graham, Charles Darwin, Henry Ford, John Keats, Michael Faraday, Frank Lloyd Wright, Carl Jung, Glenn Gould, William Harvey, Richard Wagner, Marcel Proust, Wilbur and Orville Wright, among others, for lessons learned and mistakes to avoid.

Each of the six main sections of the book utilized the same structure: the topic, followed by a brief biography of acknowledged masters, and a discussion of the "Keys to Mastery."
Section 1, "Discover Your Calling" suggests everyone has a unique gift to offer the world, details how Leonardo da Vinci found his, and follows it with the "keys to mastery," and strategies for finding your life's task.
Each succeeding section uses the same outline, e.g., what you need to master a part of your life, how a master did it, and strategies to emulate toward your own mastery.

I found section 5 in section 6 to be a most useful exploration of the topics of the creative (emotional) mind and the cognitive (rational) mind. Much of my 34 year career as a psychologist has focused on assisting patients to find a balance between their emotional and their rational minds. Patients whose emotions rule their lives frequently make decisions that are not in their best interest. Assisting them to evaluate their situations by using their rational mind allows them to acknowledge their feelings, yet make rational decisions that have a better chance of succeeding. Patients whose rationality rules their lives frequently make decisions that ignore giving credence to their emotions. Assisting them to incorporate the legitimacy of their feelings allows them to become more fully a human being. Even Star Trek's Mr. Spock had his emotional moments.

To put it into more historical perspectives, René DesCartes's (1596-1650) conjecture that "Cogito Ergo Sum,” translated as "I think, therefore I am," was, in my opinion, only half right. For example, if I pinch your arm really hard, are you going to have to think to know you're alive? Or is it equally valid to say "I feel, therefore I am?" Similarly, Aristotle (384-322), in creating the taxonomy of animal species, said, “Man is the rational animal.” Personally, I think Aristotle had it backward. “Man is not the rational animal,” it seems to me that “Man is the animal that rationalizes.” We do what we feel like doing, then we come up with reasons to justify having done it. One cannot ignore one at the expense of the other, in either direction.

Robert Greene’s book, Mastery, is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally satisfying, which, I surmise, is what he intended. Therefore, I highly recommend this book to anyone who, in the context of the Declaration of Independence, is in “pursuit of happiness."