Robert Greene writes well researched and powerful books that have a pratical and long lasting impact on the reader. He uses historical references and stories to explain his stand on various topics. I like to read his books because it helps me in playing and winning the me versus me game. The 50th law is one such book by Greene which he has written with the afro-american rapper- 50 cent. Being an afro-american husler in the suburbs of Los Angeles given its crime racket, drug abuse and racism has thought hard lessons to 50 cent. His life and story has provided sufficient material for Greene to put together this book whose central theme is fearlessness.
Why this book mattered to me and why it should to you –
When I wanted to start a new startup, I was grappled by two principal fears – one is the fear of failing, the other the fear of remaining mediocre. I believe in playing and winning the high risk high reward game. Confidence is key while trying to accomplish something meaningful in one’s life. Confidence is not easy to develop, one needs to understand and outwit his fears in a rational way. Such a confidence, which is earned by fighting and winning the me versus me battle, is of pratical use in one’s journey.
Such a confidence is different from simply being adamant and having strong emotions towards one’s idea. A successful person should be able to master his emotional self and develop his confidence in a pragmatic way. If confidence is just an emotion, it is not very useful in practise. I call such an emotional confidence as animal fat. Something that I believe is very toxic for a new entrepreneur like me. History is full of business leaders who have screwed up big time due to too much of animal fat. There is a thin line that seperates confidence that is earned by outwitting one’s fears and animal fat. The book talks the reader through the various strategies that one must follow to develop this fearless attitude in a pragmatic way.
50 cent and why his story matters
The key to 50 cent’s success in the music industry and his secret to power is his utter fearlessness. He has seen and lived through too many dangerous encounters on the streets of Los Angeles as a young drug dealer where he has developed this fearlessness. He was shot by a hired assassin who put nine bullets into his body and one of the bullets missed his jaw by a whisker. When one has such a close encounter with death, one frees himself from all kinds of fears and lives a lot more freely than otherwise. This book is about the patterns of his behaviour which has built his fearlessness. Each chapter talks about one such pattern of behaviour.
“Your fears are a kind of prison that confines you within a limited range of action. The less you fear, the more power you will have and the more fully you will live.”
The core contents of the book
The book starts by explaining the evolution of fear and its role in protecting humans from threats such as war, animal attacks and food scarcity. It talks about why it matters to be realistic. Often we tend to expect ground realities to be different from what it is. One must accept the circumstances and resist the temptation to wish it were different, let alone favourable.
In my experience, I have come across a number people who keep on running behind somebody else for care and protection. They hide behind their father, their husband, their boss or in some cases the brand they work for. They are grippled by the fear of having to sink or swim on their own. I have a sense of disdain towards them. They fail to rely on themselves in adverse circumstances, always requiring a safe place to hide, losing valuable previlages in the bargain. One should understand that there is no free lunch out there. The cost of constantly needing a place to hide is one’s own autonomy. One must face the real world with all its adversities fearlessly, exercising his autonomy and relying on no one else but on self. The book goes into detailed and realistic discussions such as these given the context of 50 cent’s experiences.
It discusses a variety of topics such as oppurtunitism, aggression, self belief, knowledge of the environment and mastery as stepping stones to achieve practical fearlessness. The book is full of interesting stories where the author substantiates his claims with real world stories from 50 cent’s life. In the end it brings out the concept of embracing ones own mortality. We all are temporary beings here who have limited time to live and make a difference. Once we understand and accept the reality that we are not going to be around for too long, it clarifies to us that we have nothing to lose. One might as well just go for it.
As they say, a ship is always safe at the shore. But that’s not what it is built for. A ship is built to sail across the high seas. One must have a sense of direction, the true north in one’s life. A ship without co – ordinates is lost at sea, left at the mercy of the waves. A talented human without a sense of direction will also be lost in mediocracy unless he develops fearlessness to leave the safe shores. In my case, the steady, stable and soul crushing day job that I feared quitting, was my safe shore. I quit it with confidence. Practical confidence that I developed over a period of time by fighting and winning the me versus me battle. Today I have more to gain thanks to my autonomy. I have less to lose, even though what I have today isn’t exactly secure.
I encourage you to wage war on yourself. Fight it, win it and add meaning to your life. This book is a good place to figure out what one needs to win in this battle. Trust me, many humans have been there, done that and are out there to share their mistakes, failures and hardships, just so that we do not make them. Read this book, develop fearlessness and thank me later.
Happy Reading !