The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
I began to admire and appreciate Robert Greene’s work after reading Mastery, which changed the way I looked at life. So, I was eagerly waiting for this book to come by, to read it and derive value out of it. It bypassed all of my expectations and turns out to be one of the best books Greene has produced so far. It is large in volume spanning close to six hundred pages and very high in value to the reader, which makes it more than worth the effort of reading it. One can derive so much value out of the book by spending a month or so reading it, which has taken Greene a little more than five years to produce.
As an Entrepreneur and a business leader, my full time job is to influence and lead a team of people who are ideally at my level of ambition, if not higher. To do so effectively, it is critical that I closely understand myself- who I am, and what I stand for, and I understand the nature of other people. This book serves as a tool in doing both these things very effectively. It has helped me in building up a belief system for myself, which I use as a glue to bind with and influence other people. A true gentleman entrusted with the role of leadership should always have a sense of direction which he displays in his thoughts, actions and deeds. A set of values that I believe in, has helped me in displaying this sense of direction towards the people that I deal with on a day on day basis. To build out such a critical belief sytem, it is important for one to understand both himself and the people he deals with. This book not only helps in doing that, but also gives some practical strategies and tips which one can follow to handle people effectively, starting from oneself. Greene does a very good job in helping the reader understand the nature of people by giving some very interesting stories and case studies which makes for a very relateable and enjoyable read.
The book is made of eighteen chapters and each one deals with a certain behaviour of humans which he calls as a Law of Human Nature. Each chapter starts out with a case study from a historical character, or a business case, or a story that is relevent to the law in question. He later on interprets the story, and its characters in the light of the human behaviour. He goes on to describe practical strategies to understand and exploit this law and concludes the chapter with a quote to think about. The subject matter is quite deep and one needs to pay undivided attention while reading to derive maximum value out of the book. I would suggest you to go slow with the reading and have a notepad close to you in case you should write down anything you find valuable. The book comes at a time when we as a generation, with all the social media channels out there are so self obsessed that we no longer understand other people closely. The lack of the ablity to understand other people leads to so much of pain, resentment and heartbreaks that can be avoided, if only we were able to see ourselves deeply and then see others for who they are. The book is highly relevent in this context.
The books helps in shattering one’s self obsession and saintly appereance to say that each of us without exception have a dark side to ourselves. It helps us in confronting this dark side and using it as a tool to influence people. We always think that it is the other person who is narsiccsistic, envious, aggressive and the one with the dark side. The book helps us in looking into ourselves deeper and finding such negative shades in our own character. It helps largerly in understanding oneself- who are you, and what you stand for.
We as humans are more emotional and less rational than we think. We all are actors and our need to say and do what is appropriate for the circumstance is more important than to be authentic. One needs to be honest with oneself. However, when he is trying to have influence over others, he needs to pretend to be someone else. We all wear masks and we all manupulate others by saying and doing things we know we should not. The book makes a good case as to why this is required and helps us in not only master the act of pretending, but also seeing through other peoples’ masks. The book helps one to transform oneself into a calmer and more strategic observer of people. It helps us to interpret the non-verbal cues that people give out so that we can be better at judging people. These skills help not only in understand oneself deeper, but also understanding the toxic habits of other people. This can help one to free himself up from other peoples’ emotional drama that would otherwise drain him of mental energy. People with toxic thinking will ineviably cross your path in day to day life, this book helps in observing and understanding them. Do read this book so that it can help you save up time and mental energy by avoiding such toxic types. Ignore the damage that these toxic types can bring to your life at your own peril.
The book is full of stories of such toxic types. Aggressive, narcissist, envious, selfish, cunning and manuplative types are all around. Through these stories and the interpretations, the book makes a good study of human nature and gives pratical strategies to use these in the real scenarios. It developes the attitude in the reader to look at people dispassionately and to accept people as facts of nature. It helps one to evaluate the feasability of associating with certain types of people and to figure out if it is worth the effort or not.
As leaders we always want to have influence over other people, to move them in a certain direction so that all stake holders are profited. While in this pursuit of influence, it is important to be proceed with a sense of purpose. A ship without cordinates is left at the mercy of the waves. My belief system serves as my cordinates to provide me the direction I require for the actions I take. The book has helped me understand the importance of such a belief system. It has helped me to create a positive group dynamic that can help us achieve results in a collective manner. As a business, our fate is decided by our group dynamic. If we fail, it is our group dynamic that failed us. The book provides interesting and practical stategies for getting this all important group dynamic right in a group of people. It is very essential for anybody manning a leadership position to understand its importance. If a leader does not get this right, he probably will be left at the mercy of toxic people who will push and pull him in any way, driven by indivudual need for power and control.
A large part of one’s success is driven by his ability to make other people follow his ideas and contribute to his cause. It is rare that any success can be achieved by an individual all by himself without using the help and support of other people. As humans, we all crave for a certain degree of influence over others and want them to help us further our cause. In this context, the Laws of Human Nature serves as a practical tool to help in understanding the behaviour of other people. It is a book that will teach you the true levers for motivating and influencing people. It helps in understanding oneself, in deriving a strong belief system that provides a sense of direction to one’s thoughts and actions. It helps in confronting and altering one’s own negative patterns to increase the degree of influence. So if you are a business leader or someone who would like to have influence over other people, then this is the book for you to read and study closely.
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Happy Reading !
1st January 2019