The 50th Law
“Understand: people will constantly attack you in life. One of their main weapons will be to instill in you doubts about yourself – your worth, your abilities, your potential. They will often disguise this as their objective opinion, but invariably it has a political purpose – they want to keep you down.”Robert Greene
“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.” Robert Greene
Motivations to Read
On paper, this was a very intriguing combo: 50 Cent and Robert Greene. I'm a fan of 50's music and loved reading Greene's 48 Laws of Power. I knew this book would focus heavily on fear, an area which overcome can lead to significant personal growth.
3 Reasons to Read
- A uniquely balanced blend of history mixed with modern day street smarts to conquer fear
- Learning to accept your own mortality
- Gaining a Realist-Optimist mindset; keen eye for reality, while finding opportunity and persisting through
The 50th Law
Summary & Notes
THE 50TH LAW
This is a book about a philosophy of life regarding fear, and how they are the 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.
In Robert Greene’s book, “The 48 Laws of Power”, he took you on an adventure through history to see how power was used for various aims, as well as how to defend against them. It shed the light on power.
The 50th Law sheds light on fear. It talks about overcoming the fear of death, the ability to embrace chaos and change, as well as a change in mindset to view adversity as an opportunity for power.
Fear is the oldest and strongest emotion known to man
Fear for humans is an emotion that evolved for a protective purpose; remembering the source of a threat and protecting ourselves in the future.
Overtime we gained more control over our environment and didn’t face the same threats our ancestors did. In modern civilization, our fear became a kind of generalized anxiety.
We shift from feeling fear because of some threat, to having a fearful attitude towards life itself.
Fear causing a downward cycle, of low energy and momentum, making you more susceptible to other fears.
We focus on the negatives, seeing every event in terms of risk. We exaggerate dangers and our vulnerability.
The determining factor towards fear, is our attitude and how we choose to look at this reality.
We have the ability to evolve beyond our fears.
Two Ways with dealing with fear
Passive: Avoiding the activity that causes us anxiety.
Active: Finding a way to overcome the fear directly.
In the passive mode, one continues to maintain comfort and security, and as a result is more sensitive to fear as they don’t have experience with it; it’s vague and troubling.
In the active mode, certain individuals are in an environment of constant danger and must confront their fear repeatedly. This could be growing up in poverty, facing serious illness, war, or other high pressure situations. A large portion of individuals are crushed by the adversity in those situations, a few overcome them and are toughened by their experiences.
What separates those who go under and those who rise about adversity is the strength of their will and their hunger for power. This attitude, builds a strong defense against fear, which leads to an offense strong, fearless attitude.
The rapper 50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, grew up in Southside Queens at the peak of the crack epidemic in the 1980s. He faced the greatest fear of a child, that of being abandoned, as his father abandoned the family and his mother was murdered when he was 8 years old.
He depended on himself for his own shelter and protection and found himself in the streets hustling at an early age.
You can’t show fear on the streets, so that was the emotion he worked hard at overcoming.
Fifty had greater ambitions beyond the streets and at the peak of his hustling success at the age of twenty, he decided to go all in on music. He knew the value of boldness, and how to have supreme confidence in himself.
At age twenty-four, on the eve of his first record release, he was shot nine times, with one bullet going through his jaw. It was within a millimeter of killing him.
Note: This is also what defined his trademark sounding lisp.
He was dropped from the label(Columbia Records) and his first album was canceled.
Coming so close to death, he understood how short life is and had a great sense of urgency.
Other labels did not want to associate themselves with him and the violence that was around him. He decided to hit the streets again, but with mixtapes. He had a great sense of freedom, to do things his way.
The mixtape campaign made him famous on the streets, caught the attention of Eminem and Dr. Dre and the rest is history.
New generation fearless types from the black ghettos of inner-city America: James Baldwin, Malcom X, and Muhammad ali.
Chaos suits there temperament.
The 50th Law
“The great fear people have is that of being themselves. They want to be 50 center or someone else. They do what everyone else does even if it doesn’t fit where and who they are. But you get nowhere that way; Your energy is weak and no one pays attention to you. You’re running away from the one thing that you own - what makes your different. I lost that fear. And once I felt the power I had by showing the world I didn't care about being like other people, I could never go back.”
- 50 Cent
The 50th Law is based on the following premise: We humans have generally little control over circumstances.
The 50th Law, however, states that there is one thing we can actually control - the mindset with which we respond to these events around us.
The people who practice the 50th law in their lives share these qualities:
supreme boldness, unconventionality, fluidity, and a sense of urgency.
Traumatic situations seem to be the catalyst for this sense of urgency.
A thought I’ve personally had on my mind is how can people in well-off circumstance, gain similar wisdom and the advice Greene gives is to deliberately put yourself in difficult situations and examine your reactions.
This can help build the power of reversal, overcoming the negatives of fear, leading to the positives of self-reliance, patience, self-confidence etc.
"This is life, new and strange; strange, because we fear it; new, because we have kept our eyes turned from it…Men are men and life is life, and we must deal with it as they are; and if we want to change them, we must deal with them in the form in which they exist.
- Richard Wright
Reality is my drug. The More I have of it, the more power I get and the higher I feel. - 50 Cent
For some individuals the world is so harsh and dangerous it forces you to open your eyes up to reality and never lose that sense.
The capacity to see the reality behind an appearance is not a function of education or cleverness; it’s a function of character and fearlessness.
Realists are not afraid to look at the harsh circumstances of life.
It’s a skill that can be trained, you have a choice to accept reality.
You’re eyes are fixed on the world, not on yourself or your ego. What you see determines what you think and how you act.
As an individual you cannot stop the tide of fantasy and escapism sweeping a culture. But you can stand as an individual defense towards this trend and create power for you self - we have a rational, conscious mind.
From Socrates: His superiority was that he knew that he knew nothing. This left his mind open to experiencing things as they are, the source of all knowledge.
With time our minds tend to close off.
What you need to do in life is return to that mind you possessed as a child, opening up to experience instead of choosing to close it off.
I found this part interesting from Malcolm X.
Identified as a realist, he wanted to find the source of the problem for blacks in America. The root of the problem he found was dependency. They couldn’t do things on there own and depended on the government, on liberals, on their leaders, on everyone but themselves.
If he could end this dependency, they would have the problem to change things.
Move from the surface, go to the deeps; the root of the problem to solve core issues.
Reverse the negative connotation behind “realist”, often Dreamers are praised for high imagination and “inspiring” others with their ideals and fancy creations.
“People who cling to their delusions find it difficult, if not impossible, to learn anything worth learning: A people under the necessity of creating themselves must examine everything, and soak up leaning the way the roots of a tree soak up water.” - James Baldwin
Make Everything Your Own Self-Reliance
50 Cent went to LA, in preparation for the launch of his debut album, Get Rich or Die trying. There he noticed the dependency and control the labels had over the artists and their music.
The label would give you money, and you gave them your freedom.
50 Cent, didn’t want any part of that and was clever. He self financed his own music videos and other promotions so he could control his image; the label thought it was saving them time and resources.
He went on to setup his own label within Interscope and also created his own website to interact with his fans.
If you don’t own yourself first, you will be at the mercy of people and circumstance, looking outward instead of relying on yourself and your wits.
Rub “Hurricane” Carter was a successful middleweight boxer who was arrested at the peak of his career in 1966, charged with triple murder and sentence to 3 life sentences.
Carter repeatedly stated his innocence, and in 1986, 19 years later, was exonerated of his crimes and set free.
Deep in his heart, Carter knew he would be free one day.
He spent all those years in prison developing his self-reliance; he acted liked a free man, despite being surrounded by walls.
He would not wear the prison uniform or carry an ID badge. He was an individual not a number. He would not eat with the other prisoners, do the other assigned task.
He was thrown into solitary confinement, but the only thing he was afraid of was losing his dignity and sense of ownership, not being alone.
[more to the story, read the book]
“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that.. imitation is suicide..that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tired.” - Ralph Waldo emerson
Every negative situation contains the possibility for something positive, an opportunity.
The universe does not care about your fate; it is indifferent to the violence that may hit you or to death itself; things just happen. It is your mind that chooses how to interpret them as negative or positive.
Often times we exaggerate the dangers we perceive.
How the hustler, in a “bad” environment thinks:
“I must take the most of what I have, even the bad stuff, because things are not going to get better on their own. It is foolish to wait; tomorrow may bring even worse shit.”
The hustler mind-set is more realist and effective. The trust is life is by nature harsh and competitive.
The culture towards knowledge is hardened too far into rigid categories, which ends up strangling ourselves into too narrow interests.
Da Vinci and other renaissance figures understood the power of multi-disciplinary learning, and knew that what matters are the connections between things and not what separates them.
Develop a hunger for knowledge, and allow yourself to be carried away with what you discover.
We are emotional creatures, but too much can blind us and cloud our judgment.
Still we should not repress our emotions, they are core part of human nature. Instead, be mindful on not holding out to a single emotion for too long.
Once strong emotion can cancel out another, helping you move past it, so this can be helpful in getting over fear. Using other emotions as a catalyst for action and exploration.
Social Flow, working in groups, provide the framework, based on your knowledge and expertise, but allow room for the project to be shaped by those involved in it. Let go off the fear of losing control and allow for teammates potential to organically blossom.
Cultural Flow, you exist in a particular cultural moment, with its own flow and style. When your younger it’s easier to adapt to the style and changes, as you get older you may lock into a style. Find a way to periodically reinvent yourself.
As 50 Cent was carving out his path in his rap career, he say that there was limited room for top performers. He releases that talent and good intentions wasn’t enough; you need to be fearless and strategic.
As associate of 50 Cent had robbed Ja Rule, another popular rapper at the time. When the two met at the club, Ja Rule didn’t approach 50 Cent at all. 50 Cent was confused by this, as he knew in streets a real hustler or gangsta would never ignore someone who had robbed him so boldly. He realized that the Ja Rule was a fake gangsta rapper and that the label had just manufactured his image.
50 Cent began to plot about how he could use this to his advantage, and released a number of diss tracks painting Ja Rule as a studio gangsta who rapped about things that he never experienced.
Ja Rule tried to come back, but 50 Cent had pushed all the right buttons and made Ja Rule angry while 50 kept his cool. 50 Cent planned his album release around Ja Rules and used the publicity around their beef(rivalry) to promote himself and 50 Cents sales far exceeded Ja Rules, whose career dwindled away.
Develop a fighting stance that comes from deep within and cannot be shaken.
By a paradoxical law of human nature, trying to please people less will make them more likely in the long run to respect and treat you better.
Life naturally involves conflicting interests. Instead of taking this personally, work to protect and advance yourself in this competitive game. Focus your attention on their maneuvers and how to deflect them.
Found this very interesting
Thomas Edison, also seen as America’s preeminent inventor and scientist, was more a mix of a visionary, strategist, and shrewd businessman. He only had a few months of formal education and wasn’t really a scientist.
Edison searched around the world looking at all of the latest advances in science and technology and thought about how some of these advanced could be made into commercial products. He would then hire the best minds in these fields to bring to life his ideas.
[Basically he was the early twentieth century Steve Jobs]
We tend to socialize with those who share similar values. When we are confronted with people or individuals who have different values and belief systems, we feel threatened.
The opposite approach is the way to power in this world.
The fearless types in history learn to develop and open spirit, a ming that is constantly learning. Be excited by diversity in opinions, ideas and beliefs.
You cannot disguise your attitude towards the public. If you feel superior at all, part of some chosen elite, it is conveyed in your tone and mood. It creates distance between the people you are trying to communicate with.
Crush all distance: To reach people you must have access to their inner lives - their frustrations, aspirations, resentments.
Open Informal Channels of Criticism and Feedback: When people feel involved they bring their own ideas and energy to the cause.
Reconnect with your Base: Success can create more distance, as you end up spending more time with more successful people and out of touch with the people who helped you get there. The problem comes from diminished communication and emotional connection.
Know your base and work to reconnect with it. Keep you associations with it alive, intense, and present. Return to your origins - the source of all inspiration and power.
Create the Social Mirror: When your work does not communicate with others, don’t try to blame others, turn inward and ask yourself if you did not make your ideas clear enough and you failed to connect with your audience emotionally.
Science and the scientific method has a distance and detached perspective at times.
Knowledge of human nature and social factors, the kind that is often most valuable to us, depends on knowing people and networks from the inside, on getting a feel for what they are experiencing.
“A really intelligent man feels what other men only know.” 0 Baron de Montesquien
“Most people can’t handle boredom. That means they can’t stay on one thing until they get good at it. And they wonder why they’re unhappy.” - 50 Cent
With more free-time spent on leisure relative to our ancestors, our minds gravitate towards anxieties about the future - possible problems and dangers.
We are less likely to sacrifice our pleasures for hard work and the public good.
We look outside ourselves for diversions and grow dependent on them. [..] If we go far enough in this direction, we find it increasingly difficult to gather the patience necessary to put in the hard work to master a craft.
Life becomes divided between what is necessary (time at work) and what is pleasurable (distractions and entertainment).
Reaching mastery in something will bring you far greater satisfaction that short-term thrills and entertainment.
Five Principle Strategies for Developing a Proper Relationship to Process
- Progress through trail and error Knowledge from books isn’t enough, you need to learn from practical experience and trail and error.
- Master something simple
Start small to build a pattern of confidence, that teaches you how to respect the process, and build skills that can be applied to bigger goals.
- Internalize the rules of the game
Learn how the systems you operate in work so you can avoid errors. Deep knowledge of the rules will enable you to move with greater purpose and control.
- Attune yourself to the details
Focus on the details, they come before the whole.
- Rediscover your natural persistence
To accomplish anything worthwhile in life generally takes some time - often in blocks of years. Manage your energy, focus and break up your goal into smaller manageable milestones.
Try to look at boredom from the opposite perspective - as a call for you to slow yourself down, to stop searching for endless distraction.
This might mean forcing yourself to spend time alone, overcoming that childish inability to sit still.
You are in fact a mystery to yourself. You began life as someone completely unique - a mix of qualities that will never be repeated in the history of the universe.
Your work thrives on feedback. Use it to shape your work, but don’t take criticism personally; you set the value of your self-image.
In impoverished environments like the hood, people’s sense of who they are and what they deserve is continually under attack. Some crumble on the pressure and internalize the judgments and doubt themselves.
Then there are those who overcome this pronouncement of the outside world and use double the energy and motivation, convincing themselves they are worth more and can rise as far as they want through willpower.
They tend to have a more intense level of ambition, because they fight against the systemic and negative judgment forces of gravity that attempt to keep them on the ground.
Ambition should not be a dirty word.
People will constantly attack you in life, and their main weapon will be to instill in you doubts about yourself - your worth, your abilities, your potential. [..] You are continually prone to believe these opinions, particularly if your self-image is fragile.
In every movement of your life you can defy and deny people this power, by maintaining a sense of purpose.
We tend to conform to society’s norms in behavior and thinking.
To be completely free is impossible and undesirable. Look for a freer range of action in your life.
Here are some strategies to move past these limits:
Defy all categories
People constantly try to fit you into narrow categories that make you more predictable and easier to manage.
Your task is to rediscover aspects of your character that defy categorization.
Constantly Reinvent yourself
Express the evolutions in your life. You have the freedom to mold your image to fit your needs and mood of the moment.
Subvert your patterns
We are stuck in the same behaviors, we see the same people and do the same things, and our minds follow these patterns.
Take more different actions, place yourself in unfamiliar territory, encounter different people, wake up at odd hours, or read books that challenge your mind instead of dull them.
Create a sense of destiny
Believing you are destined to accomplish something creates a powerful sense of purpose that guides you but does not chain you to one way of doing things. Enjoy the journey.
Bet on yourself
Have faith in your abilities, and take risks. If you fail, have courage that you have the inner resources to recover. You should be the first person to believe in yourself.
Unlike any other animal, we are conscious of our morality. This is the source of all our fears. Death represents the ultimate reality, a limit to our days and efforts in a definitive fashion.
The fearless approach requires that you accept the fact that you have only so much time to live, and that life itself inevitably involves levels of pain and separation.By embracing this, you embrace life itself and accept everything about it.
Becoming aware of the sublime around us is a way to convert our fears into something meaningful and active, to counter the repressions of our culture.
Four Sensations of a Sublime Moment
- The Sense of Rebirth
- The Sense of Evanescence and Urgency
- The Sense of Awe
- The Sense of the Oceanic, the connection to all life
“When I nearly died it made me think - this can happen again any second. I better hurry and do what I want. I started to live like I never lived before. When the fear of death is gone, then nothing can bother you and nobody can stop you.” - 50 Cent