A few months ago I was perusing Oregon’s famous Powell’s Books and stumbled upon a book entitled Mastery, it’s written by Robert Greene. The title itself resonated with me and upon a quick glance at a few paragraphs, I knew I had to have the book. $20 bucks never got me so much.
The book basically covers the lives and circumstances of historical and modern masters. Masters in a sense that they are seen by the majority of people as a specialist in whatever field of study or industry they chose to settle in. Names like Charles Darwin, Freddie Roach, Mozart, and other historical figures litter the pages. The chapters are easily digestible and the stories are incredibly inspiring.
The book goes in to various details about the life and times of these masters and what I appreciated was that the difficulties faced along the path to mastery were highlighted. In most cases, it wasn’t all glory, money, success, and respect. It was testing and riddled with strife. It was a goddamn fight. Upon finishing, I took away the thought that everything has a price and my Understanding of Reality stat increased by +2. Nothing is free.
In some cases, the master was naturally gifted. From a young age, they showed promise and surrounded themselves with people that assured their success. In other cases, nothing but grit, determination, and hard work got them to their mastery level. It was informative to see the different avenues. Me? I’m not willing to label myself in a category, but what I do know is that my path seems to be similar in that it’s littered with difficulties, successes, and contains a certain amount of youthful obliviousness that allows me to roll the dice and let the cards fall as they may, something that ran in almost every master mentioned in the book. Not that I’m a Mozart or Darwin or anything, but those dudes rolled the dice hard.
Another thought I took away from the book was that these people submerged themselves to the point where they literally mastered whatever it is they chose. Nothing was done half way, no “maybe”, no “almost”. In most cases their lives seemed to be dealt in extremes, all or nothing, win or lose, life or death. What I took away was that a certain level of mastery requires you to pay. You pay with your focus, time, mental study, physical application, finances, relationships, and, basically, your life. It seems that your life has to revolve around whatever you wish to master, there are no known shortcuts.
Upon digestion, I questioned if true mastery is even possible. Perhaps it’s the pursuit of mastery that brings upon what some deem as success or mastery. Can one actually achieve a level that they are deemed to be a true master? Wouldn’t it depend on the definition of mastery in which we are judging on? Who crowns what?
To end, I make no claims to be a master in anything. I know enough to know I know nothing. But to read about mastery and to see what was paid, overcome, and conquered inspires me to draw my bow, choose the longest, truest arrow, close my eyes, and take my shot.
Scoop a copy, Mastery