Mastery: The key to Success and Happiness


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At Arrow Devices, we treat our products as works of art and we aim to inculcate a culture where skill and mastery is highly valued. Unfortunately, it is not easy to achieve Mastery. A newly minted engineer needs to focus on this higher goal with the belief that he is doing the right thing without falling prey to short term distractions.

Below is a presentation that I gave to engineers at Arrow Devices to encourage them to strive for Mastery in whatever they do. It is structured as a review of Robert Greene’s book “Mastery” with some ideas of my own, thrown in.

I hope this is useful for you!

Key Takeaways:
- Why Mastery?: Mastery leads to success, happiness and wealth!
- Finding Life Interests: Find an aspect in your job that you love
- Go above and beyond: In order to draw and sculpt human forms better, Leonardo Da Vinci cut open cadavers to figure out how muscle lay under skin. Sometimes learning needs you to go above and beyond the call of duty
- Aim for Transformation: Intense practice transforms. It leads to the mind learning and transferring conscious patterns into the sub-conscious. Ideas come out of thin air!

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Mastery: The key to Success and Happiness

  1. 1. Mastery Aditya Mittal
  2. 2. Mastery • What • Why • How
  3. 3. What is Mastery? • Knowing an aspect of reality in intricate detail • Developing an intuitive feel for reality • Combine instinctive and rational thought into intuition • Extraordinary creative ability
  4. 4. What is Mastery? • Ideas come out of thin air • Ideas come when you are not even thinking about problem • You can work faster and achieve more
  5. 5. Conscious vs Sub-conscious
  6. 6. Mastery: Analogy • Cricket • Car Driving
  7. 7. Learning Levels Conscious Sub-conscious Hand/Eye Coordination NA Basic Shots Hand/Eye Coordination Anticipating Bowler Shots, Hand/Eye Coordination Game Strategy/Politics Anticipating, Shots, Coordination
  8. 8. Learning Levels Conscious Sub-conscious Hand/Eye Coordination NA Basic Maneuvering (turns, gear change) Hand/Eye Coordination Anticipating moves by other drivers, Navigating Maneuvering, Hand/Eye Coordination NA !! Navigating, Anticipating, Maneuvering, Coordination
  9. 9. Learning Levels Conscious Sub-conscious Hand/Eye Coordination NA Basic Maneuvering (turns, gear change) Hand/Eye Coordination Anticipating moves by other drivers, Navigating Maneuvering, Hand/Eye Coordination NA !! Navigating, Anticipating, Maneuvering, Coordination Stagnation!
  10. 10. Learning Levels Conscious Sub-conscious Typing, Hand/Eye Coordination NA Grammar Typing Ideas Grammar, Typing Story Ideas, Grammar, Typing
  11. 11. Why Mastery? • Mastery is Happiness • Mastery is Power • Ability to influence • Ability to achieve • Ability to change things • Not limited by conscious thought
  12. 12. Power • Masters are: – Creative – Natural leaders
  13. 13. Is Mastery Innate? • No! • Life Interests are Innate!
  14. 14. How Mastery? • Find Inner Calling • Apprenticeship – Find a Mentor – Creative-Active – Develop Intuition (Instinctive + Rational) • Mastery
  15. 15. Finding Inner Calling • Emotional Choice • Illogical • First: Re-connect with inclinations • Second: Redirect career path • Third: Expand skills, gain mastery and independence
  16. 16. Examples Inclination Calling Vocation Singing/Poetry/Dancing Communication/Exp ression Theatre/Public Relations Art/Painting Detail Design Tinkering Building Engineering Teaching Educate, Inspire & motivate Trainer, Coach, Mentor Talking Influence Lawyer, Salesman, Politician Sports Competition, Strategy !!
  17. 17. Following Inner Calling • Learn quickly and more deeply • Claim your independence • Larger purpose of life!
  18. 18. Apprenticeship • Exercise your inner calling • 5-10 years • Goal is Transformation of mind and character – Not money, position or title
  19. 19. Apprenticeship Impatient Scattered Disciplined Focused
  20. 20. Apprenticeship • Choose places of work and position that offers greatest possibilities of learning – Not bookish theory, practical knowledge! • Do not chose an apprenticeship that is easy and comfortable
  21. 21. Apprenticeship Phases • Deep Observation (Passive) • Skills Acquisition (Practice) • Experimentation (Active)
  22. 22. Deep Observation • Observe & Understand: Rules & Procedures • No task is menial • Like a hunter in a new jungle – Gather every detail of the forest and the ecosystem
  23. 23. Skill Acquisition • Mirror Neurons: watch and imitate • Practice and Repeat! • Cycle of accelerated returns – Ability to practice for longer hours • Aim: – Hardwiring of skills – Become one with the machine
  24. 24. Skill Acquisition • Focus on one skill at a time • Practice is boring: Do not get tired! • Once actions become automatic – Collect feedback and Analyze! – Weaknesses – Be self-critical • Aim higher, Improve Qualitatively!
  25. 25. Transformation • Intense Practice Transforms – Hard work – Painful to mind and body – Elements become automatic and easier – Mind totally absorbed in practice – Blocks everything out – Become one with the tool – Achieve Tacit Knowledge! – Revert to a feeling of inferiority
  26. 26. Transformation • Develop Emotionally • Redefined sense of pleasure • Develop patience • Develop confidence in yourself • Bored? Need new challenge, not distraction • 10,000 hours – 7-10 years of practice
  27. 27. Experimentation • Take on more responsibility • Initiative • Doing work that exposes you to criticism and failure • Test your character, move past fears, develop sense of detachment with work
  28. 28. Leonardo da Vinci • Go above and beyond
  29. 29. Apprenticeship • Given side angle “The layers of paint he applied were exceptionally thin, this brush strokes invisible. He had gradually added more layers, each ever so slightly darker than the last. Experimenting with different pigments, he had taught himself how to capture the delicate contours of human flesh”
  30. 30. Find a Mentor • Some people know more than you – Time and experience • Mentors: streamline but no short-cut • Provide feedback • Make practice more efficient
  31. 31. Creative Activity • Combine – High level of knowledge about a field or subject – Openness and flexibility to use this knowledge in new and original ways – Example: the reverse sweep!
  32. 32. Creating Conditions for a Breakthrough/Insight • Seek out what is unfamiliar • Don’t be intimidated by mystery/uncertainty • Allow for serendipity – Widen your search – Relax (play!) • Drill down: Cycle between speculation and observation • Shift perspective (eg, what did not happen) • Think in primitive ways (visually, not linguistically) • Holistic View – add dimentions • Internalize all forms of knowledge
  33. 33. Breakthrough • Begin with an intuition • Broad search followed by narrowing possibilities • Heighted Focus • Never Satisfied! • Process becomes more conscious and less intuitive, and so dead and stale • Work even harder! • Blocked: Creates inner tension and frustration • Giveup? No! • Relax, do something else: solution comes to Master
  34. 34. Emotional Pitfalls • Complacency – you know very little • Conservatism – creativity rather than comfort • Dependency – high internal standards • Impatience – “stubborn rigor”, pleasure in pain • Grandiosity – Remember luck, training, forget ego • Inflexibility – Adapt. Paradox!
  35. 35. Magical Powers • Can anticipate and predict correctly – Rommel • Intuitive feel of the whole – Einstein • Can take advantage of interconnectedness of things – Gandhi
  36. 36. Faraday • Born in poor family • Book-binder • Read books • Exchanged paid book-binding job for un-paid lab- assistantship with Davy • Worked as Davy’s assistant for 10+ years • Learned on the job under Davy • Contributed to electromagnetism and electrochemistry
  37. 37. Finding Calling • Return to origins • Occupy a niche • Rebel against “false paths” • Adapt