The 50th Law – by Robert Greene
Date read: 9/12/17. Recommendation: 8/10.
Greene pairs up with Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) to offer a real-world look into the laws of power and perseverance. He details stories from Jackson's rise and dissects how he was able to evolve and create momentum to escape dire circumstances. The more interesting sections of the book examine the underlying themes in Jackson's stories, such as fearlessness, self-reliance, and persistence.
See my notes below or Amazon for details and reviews.
If we go the opposite direction, cultivating a fearless approach to life, attacking everything with a boldness and energy, then we will create a much different dynamic.
We are all too afraid–of offending people, of stirring up conflict, of standing out from the crowd, of taking bold action.
The genius of Lincoln was his ability to focus intensely on reality and see things for what they were.
"Know the other, know yourself, and the victory will not be at risk; know the ground, know the natural conditions, and the victory will be total." -Sun Tzu
As an individual you cannot stop the tide of fantasy and escapism sweeping a culture. But you can stand as an individual bulwark to this trend and create power for yourself. You were born with the greatest weapon in all of nature–the rational and conscious mind.
[Socrates'] superiority, he realized, was that he knew that he knew nothing. This left his mind open to experiencing things as they are, the source of all knowledge.
^This position of basic ignorance was what you had as a child...Everything was a source of wonder. With time our minds tend to close off. Imagine that the world is still full of mystery.
If you have a long-term goal for yourself, one that you have imagined in detail, then you are better able to make the proper decisions in the present. You know which battles or positions to avoid because they don't advance you towards your goal.
Look at your most recent actions as if they were the maneuvers of another person. Imagine how you could have done it all better.
When you work for others, you are at their mercy...Instead you should have a greater fear of what will happen to you if you remain dependent on others for power. Your goal in every maneuver in life must be ownership, working the corner for yourself. When it is yours, it is yours to lose–you are more motivated, more creative, more alive. The ultimate power in life is to be completely self-reliant, completely yourself.
True ownership can come only from within. It comes from a disdain for anything or anybody that impinges upon your mobility, from a confidence in your own decisions, and from the use of your time in constant pursuit of education and improvement.
We live in a culture that offers you all kinds of crutches–experts to turn to, drugs to cure any psychological unease, mild pleasures to help pass or kill time, jobs to keep you just above water. It is hard to resist. But once you give in, it is like a prison yu enter that you cannot ever leave.
You cannot get this requisite inner strength from books or a guru or pills of any kind. It can come only from you. It is a kind of exercise you must practice on a daily basis–weaning yourself from dependencies, listening less to others' voice and more to your own, cultivating new skills.
If we succumb to the illusion and the comfort of a paycheck, we then neglect to build up self-reliant skills and merely postpone the day of reckoning when we are forced to fend for ourselves.
If there is ever a choice–more money or more responsibility–you must always opt for the latter.
Your goal in life must be to always move higher and higher up the food chain, where you alone control the direction of your enterprise and depend on no one.
There are ideas unique to you, a specific rhythm and perspective that are your strengths, not your weaknesses. You must not be afraid of your uniqueness and you must care less and less what people think of you. This has been the path of the most powerful people in history.
An opportunist in life sees all hindrances as instruments for power. The reason is simple: negative energy that comes at you in some form is energy that can be turned around–to defeat an opponent and lift you up.
The greatest ancient Greek hero of them all, Odysseus, was a supreme opportunist. In every dangerous moment in his life, he exploited some weakness in his enemies left open to trick them and turn the tables.
As part of this new concept, you are replacing the old stalwart symbols of power–the rock, the oak tree, etc.–with that of water, the element that has the greatest potential force in all of nature. Water can adapt to whatever comes its way, moving around or over any obstacle.
Momentum in life comes from increased fluidity, a willingness to try more, to move in a less constricted fashion.
Model in any venture that involves groups of people: You provide the framework, based on your knowledge and expertise, but you allow room for this project to be shaped by those involved in it.
The inability to deal with what is inevitable in life is the cause of so many problems. We work to postpone or avoid conflicts, and when they reach a point where we can no longer play such a passive game, we lack the experience and the habit of meeting them head on.
If leaders are fearful, hesitant to take any risks, or overly concerned for their ego and reputation, then this invariably filters its way through the entire group and makes effective action impossible
Thinking ahead requires a particular thought process that comes with practice. It means seeing something practical and achievable several years down the road, and mapping out how this goal can be achieved. It means thinking in branches, coming up with several paths to get there, depending on circumstances.
The fearless types in history inevitably display in their lives a higher tolerance than most for repetitive, boring tasks. This allows them to excel in their field and master their craft.
We too could have some or all of that power by a patient immersion in any field of study. Many people cannot handle the boredom this might entail; they fear starting out on such an arduous process. They prefer their distractions, dreams, and illusions, never aware of the higher pleasures that are there for those who choose to master themselves and a craft.
"All of man's troubles come from not knowing how to sit still, alone in a room." –Blaise Pascal
The real secret, the real formula for power in this world, lies in accepting the ugly reality that learning requires a process, and this in turn demands patience and the ability to endure drudge work.
We are creatures who make things; we don't simply imagine them. To master any process you must learn through trial and error. You experiment, you take some hard blows, and you see what works and doesn't work in real time.
If you find yourself confronting an unjust and corrupt system, it is much more effective to learn its codes from the inside and discover its vulnerabilities. Knowing how it works, you can take it apart–for good.
Try to look at boredom from the opposite perspective–as a call for you to slow yourself down, to stop searching for endless distractions.
Your sense of who you are will determine your actions and what you end up getting in life...Ask for more, aim high, and believe that you are destined for something great....People follow those who know where they are going, so cultivate an air of certainty and boldness.
Conforming to people's expectations is safer and more comfortable, even if doing so makes you feel miserable and confined. In essence, you are afraid of yourself and what you could become.
When you raise your opinion of yourself and what you are capable of it has a decided influence on what you do. For instance, you feel more comfortable taking some risk, knowing that you are always able to get back up on your feet if it fails.
Free action has a momentum of its own.
The powerful learn early in life that they have the freedom to mold their image, fitting the needs and moods of the moment. In this way, they keep others off balance and maintain an air of mystery.
The higher your self-belief, the more your power to transform reality.
We cling to jobs, relationships, and comfortable positions, all to elude the feeling of separation. We grow overly conservative because any kind of risk might entail adversity, failure, or pain.
Whenever life feels particularly dull or confining, we can force ourselves to leave familiar ground. This could mean traveling to some particularly exotic location, attempting something physically challenging (a sea voyage or scaling a mountain), or simply embarking on a new venture in which we are not certain we can succeed. In each case we are experiencing a moment of powerlessness in the face of something large and overwhelming.
In the face of this undeniable reality, of this eternal expanse, how can we not feel the preciousness of the present? It is a miracle to be alive even one more day.
There are two kinds of time we can experience–the banal and the sublime variety.
-Banal time is extremely limited in scope. It consists of the present moment and stretches out to a few weeks ahead of us. See things as being far more important than they are, unaware that in a few weeks or a year, what stirs us all up will not matter.
-Sublime time we become aware that everything is in a state of flux; nothing is permanent.
Contemplating sublime time has innumerable positive effects–it makes us feel a sense of urgency to get things done now, gives us a better grasp of what really matters, and instills a heightened appreciation of the passage of time, the poignancy and beauty of all things that all things that fade away.