Book notes: Mastery by Robert Greene

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A natural response when people feel overwhelmed is to retreat into various forms of passivity. If we don’t try too much in life, if we limit our circle of action, we can give ourself the illusion of control. The less we attempt, the less chances of failure. If we can make it look like we are not really responsible for our fate, for what happens to use in life, then our apparent powerlessness is more palatable. For this reason we become attracted to certain narratives…


If you are not careful, you will find this attitude infecting you in subtle ways. You will unconsciously lower your sights as to what you can accomplish in life. This can diminish your levels of effort and discipline below the point of effectiveness. Conforming to social norms, you will listen more to others than to your own voice.

If you lose contact with this inner calling, you can have some success in life, but eventually your lack of true desire catches up with you. Your work becomes mechanical.


We must create our own world or we will die from inaction.


The passive ironic attitude is not cool or romantic, but pathetic and destructive.


People who are passive create a mental landscape that is rather barren. Because of their limited experiences and action, all kinds of connections in the brain die off from lack of use. Pushing against the passive trend of these times, you must work to see how far you can extend control of your circumstances and create the kind of mind you desire…


First, you must connect or reconnect with your inclinations, that sense of uniqueness. The first step then is always inward. You search the past for signs of that inner voice or force. You clear away the other voices that might confuse you … You look for an underlying pattern, a core to your character that you must understand as deeply as possible.


In order to master a field, you must love the subject and feel a profound connection to it. Your interest must transcend the field itself and border on the religious.


When you are faced with deficiencies instead of strengths and inclinations, this is the strategy you must assume: ignore your weaknesses and resist the temptation to be more like others. … direct yourself toward the small things that you are good at. Do not dream or make grand plans for the future, but instead concentrate on becoming proficient at these simple and immediate skills.


…knowing your environment inside and out will help you in navigating it and avoiding costly mistakes. …the ability to observe any unfamiliar environment will become a critical lifelong skill. You will develop the habit of stilling your ego and looking outward instead of inward. You will see in any encounter what most people miss because they are thinking of themselves. You will cultivate a keen eye for human psychology, and strengthen your ability to focus.

 





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