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Why Traders and Investors Rarely Attain Mastery

For many of us, mastery is a journey, not a destination.

Mastery is not just about doing something well, it’s doing something effortlessly well and doing something so well that you add to that field or profession. Think Mozart or Picasso.

There’s something more about mastery  though. It’s more than a gift because there are those who are gifted with skills and knowledge, but never truly develop those skills.

Maybe it’s just too easy.

Mastery is something more than a gift or innate ability, something intangible.

To become a master, you must know yourself and you must know how to let your gift use you. Hidden under your psyche lies the motivations that drive you to mastery.

It’s that last step that causes most trouble. People who have certain abilities are channeled into careers, then realize they are not satisfied in those professions. We call it burnout.

Robert Greene in his new book, Mastery, says:

“Your strategy must be twofold: first, to realize as soon as possible that you have chosen your career for the wrong reasons, before your confidence takes a hit. And second, to actively rebel against those forces that have pushed you away from your true path.”

I think this is the key to why many investors or traders burn out so quickly. For every Warren Buffett, there are a few million former investors who dropped out of the field early, or slugged their way toward retirement.

It may be because investors think they’re in it for the money, but they’re not. Money isn’t the true motivation. Investors may be looking for security, so they’ll never feel the flames of poverty lapping ahead of their path and hear the knocks of bill collectors on their door again. They may want independence and freedom, never forced to serve under the thumb of a boss or in a soulless corporation. Investors may actually be searching for love (and sex), figuring big bucks brings attention from the opposite sex.

Money is just a scoreboard and when they realize that those digits don’t often translate to these psychic goals, it may explain some of the short careers in finance and the disillusionment and poor choices of many in the field.

This is just one lesson I learned reading Mastery.

I’m about a third the way through the book and it’s enjoyable. I have to admit I’m a little disappointed. I’m a big fan of Green’s 48 Laws of Power and 33 Strategies of War. While Mastery still has the Green’s keen insights and flowing writing power, 48 Laws and 33 Strategies are more interesting visually and have much more content. The former books are actually beautiful books, intricately organized with several reference points and dozens of quotes and anecdotes that illustrate each law and strategy. There’s none of that in Mastery.

It makes me wonder if this was intentional. Is Greene trying to say something about the bells and whistles that clutter the pure essence of grasping mastery? Or, is it that publishers have just become too cheap to add different inks and typefaces into a book that most likely will end up on a Kindle or Nook?

Not sure I have the answer, but will still recommend the book to you folks. It’s still a good read with important lessons. When Greene writes, each sentence seems important. You get the urge to underline certain passages, but you have that urge so often, you realize the whole book would end up underlined or highlighted.

You can also read Greene’s blog here: Power Seduction and War.

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  1. Roman Yevstihnyeyev
    January 14th, 2013 at 06:46 | #1

    In this blog entry, the author describes some of the pre-order bonuses: http://powerseductionandwar.com/announcing-mastery-with-special-preorder-bonuses-for-you-today/,
    and in one of them the author mentions an “incredibly tight deadline” he had for the book. So that could be the reason for lack of illustrative examples.

  2. January 15th, 2013 at 02:13 | #2

    That could be. Thanks for the suggestion.

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