There is an elusive aspect to mastery of any craft however Robert Greene in his book Mastery counter balances the myth of genetics with a real look at how great historical figures have navigated towards mastery. In this podcast there are various quotes and a look at key components to achieving mastery while also maintaining good creative habits.

Here are a few of the quotes mentioned:

“All of us have access to a higher form of intelligence, one that can allow us to see more of the world, to anticipate trends, to respond with speed and accuracy to any circumstance. This intelligence is cultivated by deeply immersing ourselves in a field of study and staying true to our inclinations, no matter how unconventional our approach might seem to others. Through such intense immersion over many years we come to internalize and gain an intuitive feel for the complicated components of our field. When we fuse this intuitive feel with rational processes, we expand our minds to the outer limits of our potential and are able to see into the secret core of life itself.”

“As you learn and gain skills you can begin to vary what you do, finding nuances that you can develop in the work, so that it becomes more interesting. As elements become more automatic your mind is not exhausted by the effort and you can practice harder, which in turn brings greater skill and more pleasure. You can look for challenges, new areas to conquer, keeping your interest at a high level. As the cycle accelerates, you can reach a point where your mind is totally absorbed in the practice, entering a kind of flow in which everything else is blocked out. You become one with the tool or instrument or thing you are studying. Your skill is not something that can be put into words; it is embedded in your body and nervous system— it becomes tacit knowledge.”

“Technical lock. What this means is the following: in order to learn a subject or skill, particularly one that is complex, we must immerse ourselves in many details, techniques, and procedures that are standard for solving problems. If we are not careful, however, we become locked into seeing every problem in the same way, using the same techniques and strategies that became so imprinted in us. It is always simpler to follow such a route. In the process we lose sight of the bigger picture, the purpose of what we are doing, how each problem we face is different and requires a different approach. We adopt a kind of tunnel vision.”

“Masters not only retain the spirit of the Original Mind, but they add to it their years of apprenticeship and an ability to focus deeply on problems or ideas. This leads to high-level creativity. Although they have profound knowledge of a subject, their minds remain open to alternative ways of seeing and approaching problems. They are able to ask the kinds of simple questions that most people pass over, but they have the rigor and discipline to follow their investigations all the way to the end. They retain a childlike excitement about their field and a playful approach, all of which makes the hours of hard work alive and pleasurable. Like children, they are capable of thinking beyond words— visually, spatially, intuitively— and have greater access to preverbal and unconscious forms of mental activity, all of which can account for their surprising ideas and creations.”

“Masters manage to blend the two— discipline and a childlike spirit— together into what we shall call the Dimensional Mind. Such a mind is not constricted by limited experience or habits. It can branch out into all directions and make deep contact with reality. It can explore more dimensions of the world. The Conventional Mind is passive— it consumes information and regurgitates it in familiar forms. The Dimensional Mind is active, transforming everything it digests into something new and original, creating instead of consuming.”

“it is better to produce a prototype— a form of speculation— and see how people respond to it. Based on the assessments you gain, you can redo the work and launch it again, cycling through this process several times until you perfect it. The responses of the public will make you think more deeply about what you are producing. Such feedback will help make visible what is generally invisible to your eyes— the objective reality of your work and its flaws, as reflected through the eyes of many people. Alternating between ideas and artifacts will help you to create something compelling and effective.”

“This use of images, diagrams, and models can help reveal to you patterns in your thinking and new directions you can take that you would find hard to imagine exclusively in words. With your idea exteriorized in a relatively simple diagram or model, you can see your entire concept projected at once, which will help you organize masses of information and add new dimensions to your concept.”

“Their model depended not on superior technology, but on the highest number of test runs, creating an optimal learning curve. This revealed flaws to be worked on and gave them a feel for the product that could never be had in the abstract.”

“What constitutes true creativity is the openness and adaptability of our spirit. When we see or experience something we must be able to look at it from several angles, to see other possibilities beyond the obvious ones. We imagine that the objects around us can be used and co-opted for different purposes. We do not hold on to our original idea out of sheer stubbornness, or because our ego is tied up with its rightness. Instead, we move with what presents itself to us in the moment, exploring and exploiting different branches and contingencies. We thus manage to turn feathers into flying material. The difference then is not in some initial creative power of the brain, but in how we look at the world and the fluidity with which we can reframe what we see. Creativity and adaptability are inseparable.”

“We find intuition and rationality mutually exclusive, but in fact at this high level they operate together in a seamless fashion. The reasoning of Masters is guided by intuition; their intuition springs from intense rational focus. The two are fused. Although time is the critical factor in attaining Mastery and this intuitive feel, the time we are talking about is not neutral or simply quantitative. An hour of Einstein’s thinking at the age of sixteen does not equal an hour spent by an average high school student working on a problem in physics. It is not a matter of studying a subject for twenty years, and then emerging as a Master. The time that leads to mastery is dependent on the intensity of our focus. The key, then, to attaining this higher level of intelligence is to make our years of study qualitatively rich. We don’t simply absorb information— we internalize it and make it our own by finding some way to put this knowledge to practical use. We look for connections between the various elements we are learning, hidden laws that we can perceive in the apprenticeship phase. If we experience any failures or setbacks, we do not quickly forget them because they offend our self-esteem. Instead we reflect on them deeply, trying to figure out what went wrong and discern whether there are any patterns to our mistakes. As we progress, we start to question some of the assumptions and conventions we have learned along the way. Soon, we begin to experiment and become increasingly active. At all points in the various moments leading to mastery, we attack with intensity. Every moment, every experience contains deep lessons for us. We are continuously awake, never merely going through the motions.”