Commit to Learning: The First Step on the Path to Mastery

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Daily Laws" by Robert Greene. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you have a mentor? What skills are you learning right now? How can related skills help you master them?

In The Daily Laws, Robert Greene says that to make a successful impact in your field and produce innovative and quality work, you must pursue mastery. He describes mastery as a process of learning and exploration to deeply understand your field.

Keep reading to learn why and how you must commit to learning if you want to be at the top of your field.

How to Commit to Learning

Greene explains that the journey to mastery begins with a fundamental phase of intense and self-directed learning. Whether you’re an aspiring novelist or dressmaker, you must first commit to learning the practical skills and knowledge necessary to become proficient in your work. According to Greene, this learning stage often takes five to 10 years.

Greene offers four suggestions on how to approach your learning:

1. Make learning your primary goal. Since the learning phase is fundamental to mastery, Greene recommends you prioritize learning above other concerns like money, prestige, or pride. To do this, be curious about the journey itself and not just the destination.

2. Find a mentor. According to Greene, training under a mentor is the most effective way to develop your skills. A good mentor can provide you with the right challenges, strategies, and feedback for rapid improvement. Since mentors are often busy, Greene suggests you think of how you can offer value to them in return. When you train under a mentor, however, be careful not to limit yourself to their methods or ideas. Rather, adapt them to your own learning style and taste.

3. Practice by doing. Greene explains that people learn best through hands-on learning techniques and repetition rather than through books or courses. This is because, the more you practice a skill, the less brain power it takes to perform it—the skill becomes more automatic. Greene says that everything has a learning curve, and the more you practice a skill, the more effortless and enjoyable it becomes.

4. Expand your skills. Greene recommends embracing every opportunity to add skills, tackle new challenges, and work on your weaknesses. To reach a level of mastery, explore not just the necessary information to reach your life purpose but as many related skills and knowledge as you can. This approach allows you to view your work from new angles.

The Fundamentals of Mastery and the Ultralearning Model

In Ultralearning, Scott Young builds on Greene’s suggestions with additional practical advice. Young defines ultralearning as self-directed study that involves strategic skill-building and intense focus. He provides additional suggestions on how you can effectively build the skills needed to achieve mastery.

Learn to learn: Like Greene, Young advises being curious about the journey of learning itself: To do so, consider your motivation for learning and the information or skills you’ll need before you start the process. Both Greene and Young argue that when you prioritize learning over other things, you’ll gain and improve your knowledge and skills most effectively. Young also echoes Greene’s suggestion of learning from others, since modeling your own strategies on their methods can help you make fast progress.

Focus: Greene doesn’t directly address how to focus and deal with distractions, but Young argues that effective learning requires deep focus. He advises you to combat procrastination and distractions by setting timers and doing work in environments that improve your focus.

Practice direct learning: Young also echoes Greene’s argument that hands-on practice is an important part of the learning process, referring to it as directness. He writes that you can practice your skills directly by creating projects, putting yourself in simulated or real-life scenarios, and setting ambitious goals that put your skills to the test.

Diversify skills: Like Greene, Young suggests you continue building skills, adding that you should work on your weaknesses—skills you’re not naturally good at. He also recommends practicing unrelated skills to improve your efficiency and creativity. Mastering diverse skills gives you an advantage over your competition since you’ll be able to come up with unique ideas.
Commit to Learning: The First Step on the Path to Mastery

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Robert Greene's "The Daily Laws" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Daily Laws summary:

  • Why our beliefs tend to leave us feeling unhappy and unfulfilled
  • How to attune yourself to the reality of how the world really works
  • How to manage your emotions and develop rationality

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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