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"Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity.
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. His highly anticipated fifth book, Mastery, examines the lives of great historical figures such as Charles Darwin, Mozart, Paul Graham and Henry Ford and distills the traits and universal ingredients that made them masters. In addition to having a strong following within the business world and a deep following in Washington, DC, Greene's books are hailed by everyone from war historians to the biggest musicians in the industry (including Jay-Z and 50 Cent).
Greene attended U.C. Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he received a degree in classical studies. He currently lives in Los Angeles.
"Mastery" continues in the tradition of Greene's other work, especially The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, and The 33 Strategies of War (Joost Elffers Books). Consider this book, if you will, as a synthesis and application of the principles in those three books: in the "48 Laws," Greene introduced a set of concepts loosely based on Gracian's "The Art of Worldly Wisdom" that assisted readers in determining how to gain and maintain control. In "Seduction," Greene taught readers the principles of gaining and maintaining status as a desire of others; and in the "33 Strategies," Greene shifted the ground beneath our feet from the boardroom and living room to the battlefield, describing how militaristic techniques and approaches could be used to achieve our goals and outcomes.
"Mastery" synthesizes much of this previous work into a larger framework, a longer-term project--a "bigger picture," so to speak. Greene defines "mastery" as the ultimate power: "[A] form of power and intelligence that represents the high point of human potential. It is the source of the greatest achievements and discoveries in history. It is an intelligence that is not taught in our schools nor analyzed by professors, but almost all of us,a t some point, have had glimpses of it in our own experience.Read more ›
I read Gladwell's "Outliers" and when I saw Mastery, I thought, didn't Gladwell already DO this book? Kind of, but not really. This book is totally different. Gladwell's book is filled with examples. Greene's book is an instructional inspiration, so to speak. Outliers didn't present a roadmap, which is what really differentiates the books. It starts with examining your past and how to discover what you are meant to do -then steers you on a path towards following those who are where you want to be, how to work with them and make the most of the relationship - and one of my favorite parts is seeing people as they are (social intelligence). It then delves into creativity and how to blend it with reality - how to become a master of your chosen destiny. If you love quotes, this book is packed with them. It's also packed with examples of true stories. Outliers leaves readers with the answer of how successful people got to the top - Mastery leaves readers with a road map of how to become one of those successful people (accompanied by stories of achievement). Compelling and commanding - this is a book that should come with a highlighter and will have a permanent place on your inspirational bookshelf.
This is an extremely powerful work on how to achieve mastery in one's life. Mastery can be thought of as the unique way each of us can fully actualize our potential for greatness and enjoy a fulfilling life.
Achieving Mastery in life is a lot of work but it is the way to a flourishing life (a life of self-fulfillment). Spinoza's quote "All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare" came to mind several times as I read the book. The author provides ideas and strategies that can improve the process for those willing to expend the effort. I plan to re-read and work with the ideas and strategies covered in this book and apply them to my personal context. I also plan to purchase copies of the book for my wife and 2 teenage sons so they can benefit from this material as well.
The work begins by discussing how to discover one's purpose in life. This is unique to each individual and needs to be well thought through. The author gives 5 strategies for finding your life's task and illustrates these strategies with historical and contemporary figures. Two of the strategies he discusses that really gave me a lot to think about are: 1. ) Occupy the perfect niche - the Darwinian strategy. In this strategy you need to find the career niche that best fits your interests and talents and then evolve that niche over time. I found the eaxample of V.S. Ramachandran very interesting 2.) Let go of the past - the adaptation strategy. The following quote from this section that really resonated with me: "You must adapt your Life's Task to these circumstances. You do not hold on to past ways of doing things, because it will ensure you will fall behind and suffer for it. You are flexible and looking to adapt.Read more ›
"Mastery - the feeling that we have a greater command of reality, other people, and ourselves."
"Mastery is not a function of genius or talent. It is a function of time and intense focus applied to a particular field of knowledge."
Mastery is a book that will stand the test of time. Robert Greene writes to instruct others how to achieve mastery in any field, told through a series of mini-biographies, life lessons, timeless quotes, and a modern understanding of psychology and human nature. Mastery combines these different varieties of anecdotes and instructions simply and beautifully. It is a great read, and one that would have been relevant 500 years ago and will still be relevant 500 years from now. Few non-fiction books that are published today can claim such an accomplishment.
Greene identifies three levels of learning a subject. First there is apprenticeship, marked by intense learning. Secondly, the creative-active level, set apart by practice. The third and final phase is mastery. The first four chapters of the book focus on apprenticeship, followed by one chapter each for the final two phases.
The entire books is an excellent read, but here are some of the bright spots that stood out to me:
* The biographies are really, really good. The four that stood out to me tell the life story of Benjamin Franklin, Freddie Roach, Marcel Proust, and Temple Grandin. Good mix of contemporary and ancient biographies. Its worth reading Mastery just for the mini-biographies.
* Chapter four on social intelligence is excellent. Social intelligence is often overlooked as a step to mastering anything, but Greene highlights here and provides some great tips on dealing navigating the social landscape.Read more ›