While I attempt to find an audio version of Daymond Johns new book, titled The Power of Broke, as it is not on Audible, I thought I would use this space to reflect on a book that has made a significant impact on my life.
A catalyst of sorts, Mastery, by Robert Greene was referred to me at the right place and right time in my life.
Let me explain...
I had just left New York City and an amazing position with IMG Models in search of a life a new life that boasted a greater sense of a work life balance, closer to home and family, and ultimately to find myself. After a month or two of soul searching from my parents house I knew I would have to reenter the "Real World" and get a job and move onward to sustain myself. Not too different my previous endeavor this left me in an office 5-6 days a week for hours on end for a company far less glamorous than its predecessor.
Thats when I began to seek.
Now what was I seeking exactly. I'm not totally sure. A connection with my life, perhaps. Rather than the office norm of lunch breaks at the desk, I would relax under the shade of a tree. A slew of books and podcasts began to fuel my mind, each launching and sparking a new internal conversation. Art became a driving force and after 10 hours stuck behind a screen, I raced home to spend another 4 in front of a canvas or my guitar. I picked up my camera again after feeling broken down in the pursuit of becoming a photographer and began taking on any gigs I could find throughout San Diego - baby pictures, friends, anything that kept the forward motions.
In comes Robert Greene's book Mastery. I was collaborating with my friend and hip hop artist DMO from my college days at California State University San Marcos. DMO needed new material for upcoming work he was producing and I was eager to assist. We got to talking about goals and life and I stammered through what had to have been a long list of to do's, ideas, and concepts. But DMO was able to piece what I was saying together somehow.
"Have you ever read a book called Mastery?", he asked. "Everything that you are talking about, thinking and doing is reflected in the book through the eyes of great artists who had taken a similar route to achieve success. I would really like for you to read this book." This moment had me struck in awe. After years of education from Kindergarten to my MFA, no one had ever suggested a book to me that they felt I could have a personal connection with. Sure I had been given tons of generic reading material from my teachers and professors throughout the years, but this felt more fine tuned. Almost like it were prescribed specifically to me.
Mastery examines and digests the work of greats like Charles Darwin, Leonardo Da Vinci, Einstein, Mozart, among many others and attempts to retrace the footsteps that lead to their success in the field. Undoubtedly while the paths had variance pertaining to the craft, the core steps were reflected with each individual, showcasing that there may be some broad formula we can replicate to unleash and unlock our full potential.
"This primal uniqueness naturally wants to assert and express itself, but some experience it more strongly than others. With Masters it is so strong that it feels like something that has its own external reality--a force, a voice, destiny. In moments when we engage in an activity that corresponds to our deepest inclinations, we might experience a touch of this: We feel as if the words we write or the physical movements we perform come so quickly and easily that they are coming from outside us. We are literally "inspired," the Latin word meaning something from the outside breathing within us. Let us state it in the following way: At your birth a seed is planted. That seed is your uniqueness. It wants to grow, transform itself, and flower to its full potential. It has a natural, assertive energy to it. Your Life's Task is to bring that seed to flower, to express your uniqueness through your work. You have a destiny to fulfill. The stronger you feel and maintain it--as a force, a voice, or in whatever form--the greater your chance for fulfilling this Life's Task and achieving mastery."
Relating strongly to this concept and quote from the book, I understood something that I had taken for granted for years. That I was unique and that this trait was not a flaw, but rather my greatest asset. As I began to plant it I began to slowly but surely create a life that revolved around my talent, whether that meant going out to teach it or freelance to create with it. I would volunteer in my free time with like minded organizations, museums, non profits, anywhere I could lend my skills. I would sign up for new classes online to keep focussed and in the know. I would keep a team around me of people after the same core endeavor and learn from their difference, their missteps. I would devote time to new projects, new techniques, reading, listening and creating new business goals and new concepts along the way. I was becoming a Master. They say when you have dedicated 10,000 hours to your craft you are awarded this title and while I think Mastery is something an artist is constantly working towards and never feels as though he/she has reached that point I can say that the hourly quota has been met, and yet I am in constant hunger to know and understand more and continual sly evolve in perpetual motion. While I do not feel I have reach my fullest potential I feel I am constantly I a steady growth with new doors opening with each new step, this year allowing me to shoot at a professional level whilst teaching both at a college level and from a mentorship level.
A major thank you to DMO for suggesting this book to me and seeing a trait in me that I didn't even believe in. As a matter of fact he has a whole slew of albums full of inspiring words and I would appreciate anyone reading this to head over to http://www.thisisdmo.com/ and pick up an album. Let him know I sent you.
I continue to refer this book at the end of every class. To nearly anyone and everyone I meet looking to make a positive change. May it be a catalyst for you as it was for me.