Have you ever wondered what is it in your life that you are meant to do? Or to put it simply, what is your calling? It is very important to understand how to answer this question. In this post, I’ll share with you three key lessons from the book Mastery by Robert Greene. And I am going to do that by telling the stories of three of the greatest masters that have ever lived. Let’s go and hop into the summary of Mastery by Robert Greene. This book is a great self-help book such as The art of happiness, The one thing, and The power of habit.
Thinking bigger, acting bigger, and making our lives bigger. So what are the strategies in order to do that? What are some ways in which we can live a bigger life? We can think bigger and act bigger, and live bigger lives. Here are some ideas that can help you to think bigger.
First lesson: Your inner voice is the key to discovering your calling
The first and the most fundamental lesson of mastery is: Your inner voice is the key to discovering your calling. Leonardo da Vinci, the greatest master ever lived, was born as the illegitimate son of a notary in Florence and as an illegitimate son, he was not allowed to go to school. So he was basically this wild, unschooled child, and his favorite thing to do was to wander through nature, and he was fascinated by the landscape. One day he snuck into his father’s office and stole some paper. In those days, the paper was very rare. And it just so happened that as a notary, he had a lot of papers. Leonard took the paper and went to this wild part of the forest that he was so attracted to. And he started to draw what he saw, flowers, rocks, and everything.
Now, this was a very big deal at that time because, in those days, the only thing that people draw were religious human figures. To draw flowers and landscapes was something that nobody did. He draws those things over and over again and he became so good at it. Every human being is born unique with a specific DNA and brain that is never happened before in history and will never happen in the future.
This uniqueness that you have is manifested in your early years when you are a child by the fact that you are drawn towards certain activities. It could be physical activity, like a dance or sport. Or it could be something more intellectual, like math, or it could be as simple as a young boy who’s drawn to nature and wants to capture it with a piece of paper. Whatever it is, it’s the manifestation of your uniqueness. It’s like a voice in your head telling you, you should be doing this, you should be doing this. It’s what fits you and it’s what you’re good at. But what happens is that as we get older, this voice gets weaker and weaker. Well, masters like Leonardo are people who hear that voice and they hear it so strongly that they stay true to it their whole life.
Second lesson: To choose the right place for apprenticeship
The second lesson from Mastery is to choose the right place for an apprenticeship. The most iconic apprenticeship in history is that of Charles Darwin. The thing you probably don’t know about Darwin is that he was a bad student. He did not like school. What he loved was going out in the outdoors, hunting, and collecting stuff. His parents were seriously concerned about him. The father decided to get him a job as a church vicar. Instead, he accepted an unpaid position of naturalist on the boat that was sailing around the world. He left England and went to South America to collect specimens. There, he got extremely excited by what he was seeing in South America, but soon he realized that none of his skills are suited for the South American environment and he had to start over and learn new skills.
The goal of your apprenticeship is not to make money or to get fame. The goal is to literally transform yourself from someone naive and unskilled to someone who is skilled and understands the rules in your field. Go to a place where you have the maximum opportunity to learn. And this is what Darwin did. He could have taken the job at church and we would have never heard of him. Instead, he opted for the risky job and got exposed to a wide variety of life. And he was able to create the greatest discovery in the history of science.
Third lesson: Creativity comes through a process
The third lesson of mastery is creativity comes through a process. John Coltrane was born to their parents in North Carolina. They were basically gospel singers in a church. One day when he was 16, he hears Charlie Parker, the greatest jazz artist, perform, and he was fascinated by the way that Parker can communicate his emotions using music. Right there, he discovers his calling. He’s going to learn to play music like Parker. He enters an apprenticeship of 10 years, practicing 8 to 10 hours a day. He teaches himself everything. Furthermore, he goes from band to band, learning new skills. He learns as many different styles of jazz as possible.
After 10 years, he slowly develops his own style. Basically, he has spent all of these years, learning other people’s styles, and now he’s the leader of jazz. If he had tried to express his emotions 10 years earlier, it would have been nonsense or just noise. He understood that first, he needs to learn the basics of jazz. Then he uniquely combined them and personalized the style. We have this romantic notion that creativity involves being spontaneous and free and natural. But that is not how the human brain works. The more information you feed to the brain, the more associations it can make between this and that. And that is what true creativity is. You accumulate so much information and your brain starts to connect things that have never been connected. It’s not genetic that made Coltrane the most creative musician. It’s because of the process that he went through and you can do the same.
So to summarize, you enter a career path, which you’ve discovered as your calling, then you find an apprenticeship, trying to learn as deeply as you can and as many skills as you can. Then you enter into a creative process where your brain starts connecting this to that. You have this natural creativity and if you go through this process, it will come to you.