Book Excerpt: See People As They Are - Social Intelligence

Often the greatest obstacle to our pursuit of mastery comes from the emotional drain we experience in dealing with the resistance and manipulations of the people around us. If we are not careful, our minds become absorbed in endless political intrigues and battles. 
The principal problem we face in the social arena is our naive tendency to project onto people our emotional needs and desires of the moment. We misread their intentions and react in ways that cause confusion or conflict. Social intelligence is the ability to see people in the most realistic light possible. 
By moving past our usual self-absorption, we can learn to focus deeply on others, reading their behaviour in the moment, seeing what motivates them, and discerning any possible manipulative tendencies. Navigating smoothly the social environment, we have more time and energy to focus on learning and acquiring skills. Success attained without this intelligence is not true mastery. and will not last.
Keys to Mastery
In general, the greatest Masters in history–Leonardo, Mozart, Darwin, and others–displayed a fluid, sensitive way of thinking that developed along with their expanding social intelligence. 
Those who are more rigidly intellectual and inward can go far in their fields, but their work often ends up lacking a creativity, openness, and a sensitivity to detail that becomes more pronounced with time. 
In the end, the ability to think inside other people is no different from the intuitive feel Masters gain in relation to their field of study. To develop your intellectual powers at the expense of the social is to retard your own progress to mastery, and limit the full range of your creative powers.
Strategies for Acquiring Social Intelligence:
  1.  Speak through your work   
  2.  Craft the appropriate persona  
  3.  See yourself as others see you 
  4.  Suffer fools gladly  
It is generally wise to try to gain the rudiments of social intelligence — to be able to read and recognize the sharks, and to charm and disarm difficult people. The reason is that no matter how hard you might try to avoid situations that call for such knowledge, the world is one large teeming court of intrigue, and it will inevitably pull you in. 
Your conscious attempt to opt out of the system will retard your apprenticeship in social intelligence and can make you vulnerable to the worst forms of naivete, with all of the disasters that are likely to ensue.
(Source: Mastery by Robert Greene)

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