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Mastery Summary

Here’s the Mastery summary. Learn the traits and universal ingredients that helped great people achieve excellence and massive success.


Mastery author Robert Greene explains how people followed a specific pathway to achieve power and success. He tells stories of Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, and other great thinkers.

He talks about the value of apprenticeship. He also talks about the other factors to success aside from native intelligence and ambition.

About the Author

Robert Greene is an American author who has a degree in classical studies. He studied the lives of great people and extracted the lessons that made them great.

Aside from Mastery, he also wrote The 48 Laws of Power, The 50th Law, The 33 Strategies of War, and The Art of Seduction. You can learn more about him through his website.

Main takeaways: Mastery Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from his book:

  1. Choose something and spend a long time with it.
  2. Take an apprenticeship.
  3. Expand your horizons.

Choose something and spend a long time with it

It’s the start. Each of us needs to start with something. But how do you know where to start in the first place?

Think back when you were a teen. What are your favorite things to do back then? What were your passions? What were your interests?

You can list dozens of things right now. But you should only pick one. Then explore further. Why did you like it? What are the areas that most interest you?

Learn more about that. Dig deeper. You’ll know it if it’s just a fleeting interest. But if you dig deep enough, often you’ll find it more interesting than expected.

As you dig deeper, you’ll find facts that made the thing more interesting. This leads to digging deeper and finding more info that catch your attention. Soon you’ll know a lot about that field than 90 percent of the people.

It starts with a choice. You don’t have to worry about the potential wasted time. It’s likely that your choice will become more interesting as you go on.

Take an apprenticeship

In the older times younger people were taken as apprentices. From an early age they start learning the craft from their parents. They see how the skilled craftsmen do the work. Then soon they actually do the work themselves.

It’s an effective way to learn. Actually it’s the best way to learn skills fast. We learn best by imitation. We see others do it. And then we just repeat the same motion.

An apprentice can closely observe his master. After some time, he just does the actual work. It’s deliberate practice at work. We also learn well when we’re actually doing the task.

So today find a way to make yourself an apprentice. Pick a master and learn everything about him/her. If you can find a way to connect with that master, do it.

Don’t underestimate the value of apprenticeship. Even the masters such as Albert Einstein learned from someone (or from a lot of people).

Expand your horizons

After you chose your field and you became an apprentice, consider expanding your horizons.

Someday you’ll go out on your own. You’ll leave your master and explore yourself further. It’s likely that you’ve picked up most of the lessons and skills from your master. It’s then time to find your own style and make your skill your own.

How do you do this? Keep in mind the rules set by your master. Are there other ways to achieve the same things by bending the rules or following other rules? What are the limitations?

You can also explore other paths. Maybe the next field you master will complement the present one. Here’s an example. Maybe you’re good at science right now. If you improve your communication skills, you can explain complicated science topics in simple terms. You become more valuable as a result.

Expand your horizons. Explore other paths. Learn more. Mastery is not just a destination. It’s a journey.

Choose, become an apprentice, and expand your horizons. Aside from those, you’ll also learn the following from the Mastery book:

  • What’s the true meaning of mastery
  • How to develop your creativity
  • How to choose the perfect niche
  • Why you should constantly experiment
  • How to synthesize all forms of knowledge

My personal takeaways

It’s surprising that successful people in different fields followed the same path towards mastery. They chose a calling, learned from the best, and even exceeded their former masters.

The principles apply in all fields including science, arts, and business. The masters applied deliberate practice. They learned a lot. They gained different backgrounds. They synthesized knowledge.

It’s not an easy path by the way. It’s also not clear because we won’t know what we’ll discover along the way. But the path to mastery is continuous. It will all be worth it.

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Outliers Summary

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