Just finished an excellent book called Mastery by Robert Greene. He is also the author of the 48 Laws of Power, a book I have not read yet.
I am not really into self-improvement books as they are sometimes just exercises in “feeling good” about oneself. Mastery, however, is the real thing and can assist many people in improving themselves through its studies of contemporary and past “Masters.”
The process to Mastery starts with formal education and then evolves into a second critical phase in your life, a practical education known as The Apprenticeship. This Apprenticeship Phase involves three steps or Modes: 1) Deep Observation — The Passive Model, 2) Skills Acquisition — The Practice Mode and 3) Experimentation — The Active Mode (gradual self-assertion and experiment and overcoming fears).
He also speaks of the importance of a Mentor relationship as part of the road to Mastery. Greene says the road to Mastery includes a specific knowledge of “Reading People.” The general knowledge towards Mastery involves avoiding “the seven deadly realities.” They are: Envy, Conformism, Rigidity, Self-obsessiveness, Laziness, Flightiness, and Passive Aggression.
Greene does a bunch of case studies of contemporary and historic Masters including Leonardo Da Vinci, Ben Franklin, Mozart, John Coltrane and Charles Darwin. The contemporary examples are: Temple Grandin, V.S. Ramachandran, Santiago Calatrava, Yoky matsuoka, Paul Graham and Tesita Fernandez, Cesar Rodriguez, Freddie Roach and Daniel Everett.
Overall, a great way to start or re-affirm a blueprint for your life and work.