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Summary: Mastery by Robert Greene

How can we hope to survive in today’s harshly competitive, technology centered, globalized marketplace?

Companies are outsourcing work to people thousands of miles away, who produce high quality work for a fraction of the cost.

Soon artificial intelligence will be powerful enough to replace all truck drivers, bank tellers, and language translators. Eventually AI will do all work that doesn’t require a great deal of creativity.

To become irreplaceable in this harsh marketplace, we need to attain Mastery. If we can attain Mastery, we will unlock a higher intelligence and creative ability that will be hard to outsource and difficult to automate.

Three essential mindsets to Mastery:

Book Summary: Mastery

Primal Curiosity

When Albert Einstein was five, his father gave him a compass. As he examined the compass, he was completely mesmerized by the invisible force that moved the needle. It made him wonder “What other undiscovered or less understood forces exist in the world?”

This early experience hinted at a primal curiosity for Einstein that would fuel his obsessive drive for the remaining decades of his life. The first mindset we must adopt is to re‐discover and stay connected to our primal curiosity as we navigate our career decisions.

Spend a few weeks journaling 20 minutes a day to better understand and reconnect with your primal curiosity. Remove yourself from distraction and write fast and freely for twenty minutes. Repeat the question “What did I naturally gravitate to before social pressure?”

“Your primal curiosities are like your DNA, they are unique to you. But we lose touch with it as we get older. Many schools and universities kill curiosity. We forget what once captivated us.” – Robert Greene

Learning Above Everything Else

The master boxing coach, Freddie Roach, started a coaching apprenticeship at night while working as a telemarketer in Las Vegas during the day. Without being asked, he began to hang around a boxing gym every night and show the young boxers some tips he picked up as a boxer in his late teens and early twenties.

Roach gave up common comforts and balance to maximize his learning. Eventually, with enough 1‐on‐1 personalized training at the gym, he had sufficient skill and trust from young boxers to set up his own business. He became a renowned boxing coach and would go on to work with and train great boxing champions, like Manny Pacquiao.

The second mindset of Mastery is learning above all else even if it means taking lower pay, getting zero recognition for your work, facing harsh criticism, and enduring long hours of tedious work.

“Eventually, the time that was not spent on learning skills will catch up with you, and the fall will be painful. Instead, you must value learning above everything else. This will lead you to all of the right choices.”‐ Robert Greene

Unique Combination

Robotics engineer Yoky Matusoka reconnected with her fascination of the human hand. With a base level of skill and the help of her robotics professor, she could manifest her primal curiosity. After years of work, Matsuoka designed the most advanced robotic hand of its kind.

But she didn’t stop there.

Connected to her primal curiosity, she was eager to understand how the brain commanded the hand to move. Matsuoka turned her attention to getting a doctorate in neuroscience.

Having advanced knowledge, skill, and experience in two fields: robotics and neuroscience, she combined the two and created a new field in the science community called neurobotics. This is the third essential mindset to Mastery.

By combining seemingly different skills and experiences in a unique way, you can carve out a niche field where you are considered a one of kind.

“Ultimately you create a field that is uniquely your own…you have found a niche that is not crowded with competitors. You have freedom to roam, to pursue particular questions that interest you. You set your own agenda and command the resources available to this niche. Unburdened by overwhelming competition and politicking, you have time and space to bring to flower your Life’s Task (your primal curiosity)” – Robert Greene


Mastery is a self-help book that explores the journey to mastery in any field. Greene argues that mastery is not something that is given, but something that must be earned through hard work, dedication, and passion. He draws on the lives of historical figures such as Leonardo da Vinci, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Albert Einstein to illustrate the common traits and practices that all masters share.

The book is divided into four parts:

  • The Apprentice: This part explores the early stages of mastery, when the student is still learning the basics of their field. Greene emphasizes the importance of finding a good teacher, being patient, and being willing to make mistakes.
  • The Journeyman: This part covers the intermediate stages of mastery, when the student is beginning to develop their own skills and insights. Greene discusses the importance of finding your own voice, taking risks, and learning from failure.
  • The Master: This part explores the advanced stages of mastery, when the individual has reached the highest level of skill and knowledge in their field. Greene discusses the importance of staying curious, continuing to learn, and giving back to others.
  • The Legacy: This part explores the final stage of mastery, when the individual leaves a lasting impact on their field. Greene discusses the importance of finding your purpose, creating something of lasting value, and inspiring others.

Mastery is a well-written and informative book that provides a comprehensive overview of the journey to mastery. Greene’s insights are based on his extensive research and his own personal experiences, and he does a good job of weaving together historical anecdotes, scientific research, and practical advice. The book is a valuable resource for anyone who is interested in achieving mastery in any field.

Here are some of the pros and cons of the book:


  • Clear and concise writing style
  • In-depth research and analysis
  • Practical advice that is easy to understand and implement
  • Inspiring stories of mastery


  • Some of the advice may be too general for some readers
  • The book can be slow-paced at times

Overall, I highly recommend the book Mastery to anyone who is interested in achieving mastery in any field. It is a valuable resource that will help you on your journey to greatness.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the book:

  • Mastery is not something that is given, but something that must be earned through hard work, dedication, and passion.
  • The journey to mastery is long and difficult, but it is also incredibly rewarding.
  • There are no shortcuts to mastery. It takes time, effort, and perseverance.
  • Everyone has the potential to achieve mastery, regardless of their background or circumstances.
  • The most important thing is to find something that you are passionate about and to never give up on your dreams.

Here are some additional thoughts on the book:

  • I found the section on the “Path of Hardship” to be particularly insightful. Greene argues that the challenges we face on the journey to mastery are essential for our growth and development. He cites the example of Albert Einstein, who struggled with dyslexia as a child. This challenge forced Einstein to develop his creativity and problem-solving skills, which ultimately led to his success as a scientist.
  • I also appreciated the section on the “Master.” Greene describes the qualities that define a master, such as passion, focus, and creativity. These qualities are essential for anyone who wants to achieve excellence in their chosen field.
  • I appreciate that Greene emphasizes the importance of passion and dedication in the pursuit of mastery. It is easy to get discouraged when things are tough, but it is important to remember why you are doing what you are doing.
  • I also appreciate that Greene discusses the importance of setbacks and failures. These are inevitable parts of the journey to mastery, but they can be valuable learning experiences.
  • I think the book is most helpful for people who are already committed to the pursuit of mastery. It is not a magic bullet that will guarantee success, but it can provide valuable insights and advice.

In conclusion, Mastery is an engaging and insightful book that explores the path to achieving mastery in any field. Robert Greene’s in-depth research and historical examples provide a rich context for understanding the principles and strategies required for personal and professional growth. While the book may not be for everyone due to its extensive content and time commitment, those who are willing to embark on a journey towards mastery will find invaluable guidance within its pages.

Recommendation: I highly recommend “Mastery” to anyone who is interested in personal development, self-improvement, or the pursuit of excellence in any field. While the book may not be suitable for those seeking a more holistic approach to personal development, it provides valuable insights and practical advice for anyone looking to achieve mastery in their chosen area of study or work.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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