What does it take to become a master at your craft? Is genius innate, or can it be learned?
In his book, “Mastery,” Robert Greene draws from the latest research, interviews modern masters, and examines the lives of former greats like Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Mozart to discover what it takes to achieve excellence.
He argues that success is within anyone’s reach, if they have discipline, patience, and follow a number of important steps.
With permission from Greene, we’ve excerpted the following tips for mastering anything from his book:
1. Find your life’s task.
Many people have an intense feeling about what they’re best at. Too often, they’re driven away from it by other people. The first step is to trust yourself and aim your career path at what’s unique about you.
Leonardo da Vinci didn’t come into his own as an artist alone, but when he followed his childhood curiosity about everything, he became an advisor and expert in subjects from architecture to anatomy for his patrons.
2. Rather than compete in a crowded field, find a niche where you can dominate.
Legendary neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran was at once a restless and dissatisfied professor of psychology. What was supposed to be a calling felt like a job. When he began the study of phantom limbs and anomalous brain disorders, he found questions about the brain and consciousness that fascinate him to this day.
Find your perfect niche, and stand out.
3. Rebel against the wrong path, and use that anger as motivation.
Mozart was a child prodigy on the piano. At a very young age, his domineering father toured Europe with him. When he discovered a talent for unique composition, his father suppressed it. It wasn’t until he rejected his father entirely that he became a master.
We are often attracted to the wrong things, whether it be money, fame, or approval.
4. Love your subject at a very basic level.
The things that transfixed you as a child, that you found most exciting was not a passing fancy, but a message about what you’re supposed to do. For Marie Curie, it was wandering into her father’s laboratory and being fascinated by his instruments.
5. Find the ideal apprenticeship.
Charles Darwin was a mediocre student. He scraped by in school, more interested in specimens than classes. When the chance to join an expedition to the Americas came, he almost didn’t go. What he saw on that boat lead to his life’s work, and one of the most influential theories of all time.
We are often raised as dependents then given over to teachers. It’s experience and exploration that can transform us and lead to mastery.
6. Engage in deep observation, practice incessantly, and experiment.
You don’t need to impress people. You need to watch them. By learning the rules, you can dominate.
Practice, practice, practice
Our brains are set up to master skills. By repeating one thing over and over again, neurons are recruited, hardwired, and mirrored. That’s one of the reasons you never forget how to ride a bike.
You don’t know if you’re a master until you test it. Do it before you’re ready so you actually learn.
7. Value learning over money so you’re not a slave to everyone’s opinion.
Instead of a more lucrative, time-consuming commercial job, Martha Graham took a poorly paying teaching job that allowed her time to train and develop the innovations in dance that made her as revolutionary as Picasso was for painting.
Training, learning, and mentorship don’t come from the highest-paying, highest-pressure jobs. Those lead you down a conservative path of pleasing others.
8. Revert to a feeling of inferiority in order to truly learn.
Daniel Everett, a gifted linguist, was failing to learn the language of the Paraha tribe in the Amazon, which stumped researchers for years. He failed because he approached it as a linguist and Christian missionary, from a position of superiority.
He didn’t master the language until he learned it like one of the Paraha’s children, dependent on the tribe, and subject to the same restraints, inferiority, and need for support that they were.
Entering a new place or path you need to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. Lingering prejudices and feelings of superiority hamper that.
9. Engage in intense practice and lean toward resistance and pain.
Hall of Famer Bill Bradley was suited for basketball only in height. He was slow, couldn’t jump, and had no feel for the game. He practiced three or more hours after school, on weekends, put weights in his shoes, and taped cardboard to the bottom of his glasses so he could dribble without seeing the ball. That was just the beginning of his regimen.
Intense practice with resistance can be twice as effective as what’s easy.
10. Rely on trial and error more than anything.
Paul Graham was always fascinated by computers. He eventually found that he learned by tackling problems, failing, and trying again, not by being taught. That experience eventually lead to the creation of YCombinator, which gives entrepreneurs the support to do what he did.
Now, apprenticeships are less likely to be formal. You have to make your own based on your unique style of learning.
11. Absorb a master’s power.
The right mentor-protege relationship is the most efficient and fastest way to learn; you focus on one excellent source of knowledge instead of casting about for many. You can learn a masterful way of thinking that takes a lifetime to develop in a fraction of the time.
But the goal must always be to surpass them.
12. Choose a mentor who will intensely challenge you.
Carl Jung worshiped Freud as a pioneer in his field, but was ambivalent about certain parts of his theory. By using him as a mentor, even though they eventually split, he better understood where he disagreed with Freud, learned a great deal, and sharpened his own core ideas and identity.
The more your mentor challenges others, the more they’ll challenge you.
13. Absorb your master’s knowledge completely — and then transform it.
Glenn Gould was his legendary teacher Alberto Guerrero’s most promising piano student. Gould would take what Guerrero taught him and quickly move it in an entirely different direction. At 19 he went out on his own, but years later, Guerrero could still see the things he taught Gould, totally absorbed, but utterly transformed by his genius.
It is almost a curse to learn form somebody brilliant; it can be very intimidating. But overcome this by absorbing everything, and then going beyond.
14. Create a back-and-forth dynamic with all of your relationships.
Freddie Roach, one of boxing’s most legendary trainers, found his greatest student in future 8 division world champion Manny Pacquiao. He was Roach’s most intense, teachable student, and over time, he learned to take Roach’s strategies and instructions a step beyond what he ever could have alone.
The best relationships are interactive.
Learning someone else’s dogma is never as effective as adapting and improving it.
15. Master social intelligence.
One of the biggest barriers to becoming a master is dealing with others. It’s far too easy to live life as a series of battles and skirmishes over power that turn out to be minor.
The idea that people can be so brilliant they don’t need to deal with society is a misleading one. Masters use social intelligence to amplify their skills, rather than turning others into an obstacle.
16. Accept criticism and adapt to power structures and society.
Ignaz Semmelweis was one of the earliest pioneers of using antiseptic techniques, something that could have and since has saved millions of lives. It was never fully adopted in his time because of the high handed, arrogant way he dealt with his superiors, and his refusal to actually prove his ideas. He died penniless and abandoned at 47.
Use those in power, don’t alienate them. Otherwise, genius goes to waste.
17. Meticulously craft your persona.
Teresita Fernandez, a sculptor and winner of a MacArthur “Genius Fellowship” could have let others define her. Sculpture, and working in metal in particular was a largely male medium, and she could have easily been perceived as as a fleeting novelty. By spending time on her persona, as well as on her art, she added to her success.
We all wear masks in society. Being aware of that rather than self conscious about it allows you to be more effective in any situation.
18. Suffer fools, and learn to exploit them.
The German poet and novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe spent a period of his youth in the court of a prominent Duke. Upon accepting it, he found himself in a claustrophobic and petty court culture. Rather than engaging, he used their behavior as the basis for later plays and novels.
There are simply too many fools to avoid. Don’t engage or sink to their level.
19. Awaken the dimensional mind, and be bold.
After emerging from an apprenticeship, the inclination is to be conservative, to work firmly within a field and established, familiar rules.
The key to mastery is rejecting conservatism and becoming increasingly bold.
20. Absorb everything, and then let your brain make connections for you.
The brain is designed to make connections. When we focus too intently on a given task, we can grow tense, and our brain closes off. Masters read and absorb everything that could be related to stimulate the brain into making a leap.
That’s how Louis Pasteur made the leap that lead to vaccines. He spent years developing germ theory, which enabled him to see the importance of a group of chickens that survived injection with an old culture of disease. As he said, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.”
21. Avoid putting things into familiar categories.
The most creative minds resist one of the brain’s signature tendencies, to put things in easy categories, to use a mental shorthand to simplify everything. With an effort to alter perspective, that can change.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin came up with the insight that made Google by seeing what seemed to be a trivial flaw, bad results in search engines that ranked pages by how often something was mentioned. One anomaly led them to a vastly more effective path.
22. Don’t let impatience derail your plans.
John Coltrane’s greatest strength, improvisation, was once a weakness. He would resort to imitation rather than innovation. After years of absorbing other’s styles and learning a vast technical vocabulary, he learned how to bend it into something intensely personal and different from everybody else.
One of the greatest impediments to creativity is impatience. Stay the course and develop your authentic voice.
23. Value mechanical and abstract intelligence equally.
The most brilliant engineers in the world failed to create a working flying machine. Orville and Wilbur Wright were bicycle mechanics. A simple insight, that a flying machine needed to be able to bank like a bicycle rather than moving in straight horizontal lines like a ship, helped them beat men who had attacked the problem for years.
Mechanical intelligence, the focus on functionality, can be equally as vital and creative as the abstract.
24. Avoid “technical lock,” or getting wrapped up in technical artistry instead of the real problem.
“Neurobotics” pioneer Yoky Matsuoka had an impossible goal, to build a robotic hand that was lifelike. To her, it wasn’t a series of mechanical puzzles, but a learning process to understand the human hand. Seemingly irrelevant anatomical details turned out to be extremely important for function.
Technical lock makes people lose sight of larger questions. By looking at the human hand, already weirdly perfect, Matsuoka surpassed people who had been absorbed in technical issues for years.
25. Fuse the intuitive and the rational.
This is the final step. Deep immersion in a particular field, experience in an apprenticeship, time under a mentor, and unlocking creative potential create an extraordinary depth of knowledge and an ability to quickly and instinctively respond to any situation.
Combining that instinct with rational processes allows people to achieve their greatest potential, to become masters.
26. Shape your world around your strengths.
Albert Einstein was a bad scientist. He hated the way physics was taught and didn’t like experiments. His greatest insights came from elsewhere. His theory of simple relativity, came partially from thinking about an image in his head of trains, beams of light, men and women.
By deciding at 20 to stray away from conventional, experimental science, and to use his distaste for authority to remove conventions that held him back, Einstein did something that felt intuitive, looked illogical, but was intensely rational.
27. Know that practice is just as important as innate skill.
Cesar Rodriguez, nicknamed “America’s Last Ace” wasn’t a naturally gifted pilot. He fell behind at first. He caught up, then passed everyone through endless practice. He knew every control in his bones, and reacted better than those who relied on talent. That helped him make three aerial kills and earn his nickname.
Achievement through thousands of hours of practice seems so ordinary somehow. But it’s how most people become masters.
72% OF GLOBAL 5G SMARTPHONE REVENUE COMES FROM CHINA
Counterpoint Research reported that in the second quarter of 2020, 5G smartphone shipments increased, accounting for 10% of global smartphone shipments.
REVENUE AND ASP OF 5G SMARTPHONE
In the second quarter of this year, 5G smartphone revenue accounted for 20% of global smartphone revenue. Among them, China is the largest contributor to 5G smartphone sales. It is reported that 72% of global 5G smartphone revenue comes from China. Most of them comes from 5G smartphones released by Huawei. In addition, the average selling price of the Chinese smartphone market also increased by 12% year-on-year.
According to the report, the Asia-Pacific region, China, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, North America and other regions contributed 10% of the overall growth rate in the average sales price in the second quarter of 2020. However, Latin America is the only country where average sales prices have fallen 5% year-on-year. Although the new coronavirus has had an impact on the entire market, the high-end segment has not fallen sharply. Compared with the overall market decline, it only faces a year-on-year decline of 8%.
The report also shows that in the second quarter of 2020, the average selling price (ASP) of the global smartphone market increased by 10% year-on-year. With the exception of Latin America, average selling prices increased in all regions. This is because many 5G phones sold well in the second quarter. The increasing demand for education, work, games, and entertainment is also a factor in users’ preference for high-end smartphones.
Overall, due to the economic impact and the closure of offline retail stores, the market’s demand for low-priced devices has decreased. Coupled with the resilience of the high-end market and the growth of 5G smartphone sales (especially in China), this quarter’s increase in the average selling price of smartphones.
THE BOTTOM LINE
At the same time, smartphone shipments fell 23% year-on-year, reaching a record high. Although most OEM’s smartphone shipments declined in the second quarter of 2020, Apple’s shipments increased by 3% year-on-year, while iPhone revenue increased by 2% year-on-year. But we should also point out that Apple still has no 5G iPhone. The first models will come to the market only this year. Once this happens, and 5G appears on lower models, it will be quite interesting to see how the proportion changes.
Former Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime announces new game company
Two years after stepping down as CEO at Blizzard, the game company he co-founded in 1991, Mike Morhaime is back with his next venture. It’s called Dreamhaven, and it’s a combination of a publisher and developer, with “a common goal to empower creators, help bring their ideas to life, and create original gaming experiences that foster meaningful connections between players.”
As part of the announcement, Dreamhaven also revealed its first two internal studios: Moonshot Games and Secret Door. Moonshot is headed by a trio of Blizzard veterans, including former Hearthstone lead Jason Chayes, StarCraft II director Dustin Browder, and Hearthstone creative director Ben Thompson. “Though it’s very early days, when we think about Moonshot, we imagine a studio that celebrates curiosity and courage,” Chayes said in a statement. “We aspire to be bold in our approach, and we think the best way to do that is to create a culture centered around trust.”
Secret Door, meanwhile, is similarly led by a team of former Blizzard developers, including Chris Sigaty (executive producer on Hearthstone), Alan Dabiri (technical director on Warcraft III and StarCraft II), and Eric Dodds (designer on World of Warcraft and Starcraft). No projects have been announced for either studio.
Morhaime stepped down as CEO of Blizzard in 2018, though he stayed on in a consultancy role until last year. In an interview with The Washington Post, he said that one of the goals of the new company was to build an environment focused on creators — something that was likely a challenge under Activision, which became Blizzard’s parent company in 2008.
“We’ve learned a ton about what goes into creating an environment that allows creators to do their best work, and we were very successful doing that for many years at Blizzard,” Morhaime told the Post. “We reached a crossroads where we reassessed what we want to do with the rest of our lives.”
Apple Loop: Shock iPhone 12 Details, Massive iOS 14 Problems, Macbook Pro Delay
Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes surprising iPhone 12 benchmarks, big problems with iOS 14, two new iPads, Apple ignores MacOS, the “good/better/best” of the Apple Watch, the controversy around Apple One, and the Macs’ never changing system System Preferences.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
Just How Fast Is Your Next iPhone?
We might not have seen the iPhone 12 family as part of Apple’s virtual September launch event this week, but we have seen the benchmarks pop up on the AnTuTu website. That gives us a raw comparison of the numbers from last year’s iPhone to this year’s. Philip Michaels reports some pretty shocking numbers:
“Leaked benchmarks from Antutu, purportedly showing off an iPhone 12 Pro Max’s performance, may help fill in some of the blanks. MySmartPrice spotted the leaked numbers, which claim to show off a device with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage running iOS 14.1.
“According to the leaks, the iPhone 12 Pro Max tallied a score of 572,333 on Antutu’s test, which is a 9% gain over the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s 524,436 result on the same test. MySmartPrice says the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s reported tally would be the highest score ever posted by an iPhone, which you’d hope given that it’s a new model.
The Big Problem With iOS 14
Apple may not have announced a release date for the iPhone, but it did announce the release date of iOS 14. And that has caused problems. Normally Apple will provide a week’s worth of ‘heads up’ time to Developers so they can ensure their apps are ready for the jump up to the next major version of iOS. Not this year… developers had less than a days notice, and they are not happy. Matt Binder reports:
““Gone are the hopes of being on the store by the time users install the new iOS 14 and are looking for new apps. Gone is the chance to get some last-minute fixes into your existing apps to make sure they don’t stop working outright by the time users get to upgrade their OS,” explained Steve [Troughton-Smith from High Caffeine Content.”
““There are some developers who have spent all summer working on something new, using the latest technologies, hoping to be there on day one and participate in the excitement (and press coverage) of the new iOS,” he continued. “For many of them, they’ll be incredibly upset to have it end like this instead of a triumphant launch, and it can dramatically decrease the amount of coverage or sales they receive.””
Take Two Tablets And Call Your iPhone In The Morning
Taking the flagship spot away from the ‘missing presumed having a good time’ iPhone 12 was Apple’s new iPad Air. Beating the smartphone as the first device with Apple’s new A14 ARM-based processor. Samuel Axon and Jim Salter report for Ars Technica:
“The iPad Air gets the new A14 Bionic CPU, built on 5nm process technology. It’s a six-core CPU with two high-performance cores and four lower-power, more efficient cores for simpler background tasks. The A14 Bionic offers a 30 percent GPU performance boost compared to previous generations, and Apple says it puts up double the graphics performance of typical laptops.”
As well as the increased power, 2020’s iPad Air has a new design; USB-C has been added, the bezels have been trimmed away, the home button has been removed, and TouchID has been integrated into the power button. It;s not the only new iPad, as the entry-level iPad moves up rom the A10 to the A12 Bionic processor. Benjamin Mayo reports:
“The jump from A10 to A12 means Apple’s cheapest iPad will feature the Neural Engine for the first time. Apple says the A12 chip offers more than twice the performance of the top selling Windows laptop, 6x faster than the top-selling Android tablet and 6x faster than the best-selling Chromebook.
“The 8th-generation iPad keeps the same price as the 7th-gen: that’s $329 for general sale and $299 for education.”
Will Mac Owners Be Satisfied With Safari After macOS Delay?
If you were waiting for MmcOS Big Sur to drop for your Mac or MacBook, then you are out of luck. Apple’s event saw updates to iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS… but macOS has been delayed. The ‘Big Sur’ release is still in the future, but a small crumb (perhaps from a cookie) has been handed to Mac fans in the form of Safari 14, presumably to offer cross-OS support with other devices. Juli Clover reports:
“Safari 14 brings improved performance, customizable start pages, a Privacy Report to see which cross-site trackers are being blocked, and a new tab bar design that provides tab previews so you can see what you have open at a glance. Today’s update also removes Adobe Flash.”
The Apple Watch Strikes Three
Two new Apple Watch models were launched, and as the Apple Watch Series 3 remains, there is now a low-, a mid-, and a high-level smartwatch in the classic triplet that Apple was once famous for. Todd Haselton looks over the Series 6 Apple Watch for CNBC, including the headline ‘wellness’ features:
“The Series 6 also has Apple’s most advanced sensors. You can run the ECG app for an electrocardiogram, for example, a feature that’s not on the Apple Watch SE or Series 3. It’s also the only model with the new blood-oxygen app. I tried that and it told me my blood oxygen was 96%, which seems good.
“…Apple is careful to explain that this isn’t a medical device. You can use it if you’re curious about your blood oxygen when you’re hiking at high altitudes, but Apple isn’t making any promises about detecting low oxygen should you fall ill with coronavirus.”
Meanwhile, Apple has brought the ‘SE’ brand to the Apple Watch, again with the promise of a cheaper ‘mid-range’ slice of hardware that still delivers the core Apple experience. Chris Velazco has spent some time with the wearable to try and work out where it fits into the portfolio:
“For one, the SE uses the same S5 system-in-package (or SIP) that we got in last year’s Series 5, which in turn contains the same dual-core processor as the Series 4. Meanwhile, Apple has confirmed that the SE has the same compass and always-on altimeter as the Series 6, along with a very similar screen.
“From what I can tell, it’s the same bigger display we got in the Series 5, just without the always-on functionality enabled. And while the Series 4 was the first Apple Watch to come with heart-sensing ECG support, you simply don’t get that here. Ditto for the Series 6’s new blood oxygen measurement features.”
Bouquets and Brickbats For Apple One
Also announced alongside Apple’s hardware, and perhaps an indication of where Apple wishes to focus on the future, were new options for the various subscription services offered by Cupertino. Apple One takes the popular options and bundles them together while offering a discount. Brian Heater reports:
“It’s not quite mix and match yet, but there are three pricing tiers. Individual offers Apple Music, TV+, Arcade and iCloud for $15 a month. The Family version will get you those four services for $20 a month. For the hardcore, there’s the $30 a month Premier tier, which bundles iCloud, Music, TV+, Arcade, News+ and [the new service] Fitness+.“
“For those who have been putting off a given Apple subscription, such a bundle could certainly sweeten the pot — and make it even harder for users to escape the pull of the Apple software ecosystem.”
More at TechCrunch. Given Apple’s market position, using one service to pptentiallybolster another through a bundle has drawn the eye of the competition. Spotify – which has already filed an anti-trust complaint with the European Commission against Apple – drew attention to the issue shortly ager the end of the event.
“Once again, Apple is using its dominant position and unfair practices to disadvantage competitors and deprive consumers by favoring its own services. We call on competition authorities to act urgently to restrict Apple’s anti-competitive behavior, which if left unchecked, will cause irreparable harm to the developer community and threaten our collective freedoms to listen, learn, create, and connect.”
The look of the MacOS user interface has evolved since OSX was announced in 2000. One area has stayed relatively contestant, but the small changes highlight the thinking behind the OS over the years.
“The interface started glassy and skeuomorphic, mimicking the materials used on Macs. Over the decades, it went through significant revisions. One thing that seems to have remained relatively unchanged over the years is the System Preferences screen.
“But, at a closer glance, we’ll see that this mundane part of the operating system has changed quite a bit and hides some fun easter eggs and surprises.”
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.
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