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Mastery: The 4-stage process that leads to genuine happiness and fulfillment.

Chasing happiness is a destructive way to live your life and will only result in not finding it. The more you chase it, the more it runs away. Like Rocky chasing the chicken in the first movie, the more you let it know that you’re chasing it, the faster it runs away from you, and ultimately you’ll never be able to catch it.

There is one way however to attain unlimited happiness, and it’s not by going on vacations or going out getting drunk every weekend.

It can only be attained by feeling proud of yourself every single day.

If you feel pride, happiness will simply come as a by-product.

But how do you actually achieve the highest level of pride?

Well, it’s mastery. Mastering a single thing, something that you are better at than everybody else. This will fill you with a sense of immense pride, it will show you that you can become great at something, and it will show to others that you are a hardworking and dedicated individual which will command respect from others.

If you follow these steps, you’re patient, and you’re willing to do the work, mastery will be within your reach.

Robert Greene has laid all the necessary steps out for you in his book “Mastery”. It provides a blueprint that shows you exactly how you can attain mastery, and it outlines the 4 stages that you have to go through to attain it. Skipping one of these steps will ruin your chances of mastering anything and will make you end up with a life full of misery, endlessly searching for happiness, and never finding it.

True happiness can only be attained by mastering something, not endless pleasure.

Let’s go over the four stages you need to go through to master anything:

1. Discovering your life’s task

The most important thing you can do is discover what the author calls your life’s task. What is it that you were put on this earth to do, what is your purpose in life?

Most of us have a total lack of purpose, and this is the number one reason for the misery we experience in our lives.

Humans are goal-seeking machines, we have to strive for something, that’s just how we’re wired. We need something to strive for, something bigger than ourselves.

Your life’s task will be different than everybody else’s, so you’ll need to find your own unique life’s task, otherwise, mastery will be impossible.

It is important that you don’t skip this step and just undertake any endeavor that comes on your path and think you can master it. There has to be a calling, a deep emotional connection to the work that you are doing.

Here are a few ways you can find your life’s task:


To find out what you’re meant to do, you first need to know exactly who you are.

This may sound extremely simple and obvious: “Of course, I know who I am.”

No, sadly, it’s not that obvious. So what you need to do is take a good look at your life and who you are through some deep introspective work, analyzing your life and seeing who you really are.

What experiences did you enjoy the most, what type of work do you find so enjoyable that time flies by when you’re doing it? What things are you naturally good at, what comes easy to you, and what work do people compliment you on when you’re doing it?

It’s also important to know your weaknesses, what are you actually terrible at, and what things do not come naturally to you at all. Not that you shouldn’t do any of the things you’re not good at or that you shouldn't improve on them, but know that these are not the things you should focus on when trying to master your craft.

For example: if you’re not good at ice skating, don’t try and become the world's best ice skater, because you know that would be a waste of your time.

Furthermore, think about what you would like to do with your future, who are you on a deeply personal level, what is your character, and who do you want to be? You shouldn’t try to be someone you know deep inside you don’t really want to be, you don’t want to play a role that doesn’t fit you for the rest of your life. This must seem obvious, but it is important to keep in mind.

Find something you are emotionally attached to.

It is difficult to do something that you have no emotional attachment to. Discipline is very important, don’t get me wrong, but if you are not emotionally involved in what you’re doing, your discipline will run out quickly, and there will be a large chance that you’ll quit.

Not only do you need to find something that fits you as a person, but also something that you believe is really important. You need to have a strong sense of why you’re doing something.

The easiest way to find this meaning is by helping other people with something important.

If you want to be the best salesman, you need to find a deeper meaning than just lining your pockets to find mastery. It has to be bigger than that.

It could be helping your company to grow into something bigger, or selling more of your product to the people that could really use it and improve their lives with it. If you’re just in it for the money and for the digits in your bank account, mastery will be out of your reach. It has to be something more than materialism and pleasure, it has to be your purpose.

When the emotional connection is there, failure will be next to impossible.

Do more shit.

You don’t know what you like, or what you would want to do if you haven’t done much yet. Seek out more experiences, do more jobs, try more things, just do, and take action. This way you’ll find out who you really are, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what really fits you. Right now you already have some experiences you can draw from that are going to steer you in the right direction, so I would recommend first doing the introspective work with what you have right now, finding out what would fit you best.

When you feel that you haven’t found the perfect direction for you yet, the answer is still to do more shit. Do more things that you haven’t tried yet that lie in the direction that you would want to go.

When you have more experiences to draw from, the introspective work will become more and more accurate, finally resulting in you discovering your life’s task.

2. The apprenticeship phase

After you have discovered your life’s task, you’ve found what you’ve been called to do, now it is time to actually indulge yourself in the craft that you chose.

The most important part of any skill and the foundation for further mastery is mastering the basics. You need to know the basics of your craft inside and out, they are the foundation for everything else you’re going to do.

For example, if you’re a salesman, you first need to understand the basics of sales, what leads people to be influenced by you, what makes people take action, and what body language and tonality you have to use to make people take action.

Also, what product do you sell, what is it, why do people want it, and why would they buy from you?

These are the absolute basics, when you’ve mastered those and you know those inside out, then you can start looking at the details. You can start using other strategies, combining certain techniques to increase your sales, being creative with your strategies, and coming up with new ones. (more on this in the creative active phase)

It’s important to understand that you first need to master the basics before you try anything new because all of the good creative ways of doing things stem from these basics.

Find a mentor

The most effective and time-efficient way of mastering the basics and learning them as quickly as possible is by finding a mentor.

You need to find someone who has already done what you want to do and is at the top, or at least higher in the game than you, and learn directly from that person.

Without a mentor, learning the basics will be much more difficult. Finding everything out yourself is an arduous and time-consuming process, and completely unnecessary. You’ll make way too many mistakes than you need to make and will make you more likely to give up when you’re not seeing any results yet.

If you want to learn how to fight, you’re not just going to hit a bag by yourself and just expect to be really good within the coming months.

What you do is you sign up to a gym, find a coach, and let him tell you exactly what you need to do step by step, and let him point out all of the mistakes that you’re making. He then tells you how to do it correctly and you copy that, and you repeat this process over and over until you get better.

This is the way you get better at something as quickly and efficiently as possible, by becoming good at the basics, and the fastest way to master them is through finding a mentor.

“Concentrated practice over time cannot fail but produce results.”

3. The creative active phase

Now that you’ve mastered the basics, you can start with the next phase to acquire mastery in your craft: the creative active phase.

This is when you start playing around with the basics you’ve mastered in the apprenticeship phase, you start finding your own style, your own way of doing things, and you experiment with different techniques and strategies.

Now you get to use the basics you’ve learned and you get to put a spin on them, making your work unique.

It’s called the creative active phase because you have to actively experiment with your craft in new, creative ways.

The apprenticeship phase was mostly copying and doing as you’re told. Now that you have the basics under control you can get creative and try new things, mix some of the basics up, and use different techniques.

What you’re doing is experimenting, almost like a scientist, mixing chemicals he already knows, trying out different combinations, and seeing what happens.

You’re doing the same, trying different things and analyzing the results.

Some creative ways will work, others won’t.

You just weed out the things that don’t work, and you keep doing the things that do work.

The important thing to know is that in this phase you are going to make mistakes. Lots of them, and that’s awesome.

Humans learn by getting negative feedback and positive feedback, forgetting the negative feedback, and remembering and reusing the positive feedback that created successful outcomes.

When this process is finished and you’ve corrected course enough times, then it is time to enter the final stage.

“Your failures permit you to see the flaws in your ideas, which are only revealed in the execution of them.”

4. Mastery

Now that you’ve gone through all the phases and you’ve discovered your purpose, the thing you want to do for the rest of your life through ruthless introspection, and picking a craft you feel emotionally attached to. After that, you’ve mastered the basics through rigorous practice and done it efficiently by finding a mentor who knows more than you, and then you experimented in creative ways and applied your own personality to the things you’re doing. Eventually after rigorous experimenting and finding out the creative ways that do work, and making them your own you’ve achieved the final stage: Mastery.

Now you’ve become so proficient at what you do, that intuition and logical thinking are intertwined. You just go with the flow.

Congratulations, now you’ve earned the right to feel proud…

just for a moment.

Because this feeling won’t last forever, pride has to be earned every single day.

Now back to work.

“What offers immediate pleasure comes to seem like a distraction, an empty entertainment to help pass the time. Real pleasure comes from overcoming challenges, feeling confident in your abilities, gaining fluency in skills, and experiencing the power this brings.”

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