So here I was in a small city in Switzerland
on a Friday afternoon & I had just finished class. Normally that would’ve meant “Everything’s
fine! I can forget my worries until Monday. It’s time to relax… but was it?” The final
exams were coming dangerously close and the pressure I felt grew accordingly. To say I
was unprepared would’ve been an understatement. What would happen if I failed? I imagined
all the consequences and broke down. I swore to myself “I cannot repeat another year in
that school. I just can’t and I won’t.” And even if I managed to take on these exams,
what job would I pursue? I had procrastinated sending out my applications like a champ.
Would anyone employ me after looking at my marks? I had priotitized working out 4-5 times
a week without missing one single training, I didn’t care about marks. The only classes
I paid close attention to were history & economics. I could’ve cared less about Shakespeare or
learning by heart where on the world map lies Timbuktu or Burkina Faso. After all I could
just look it up on my phone, it made no sense to me. And I thought about all the essential
things that we didn’t learn one bit about. It all seemed upside down and I felt frustrated.
Not to mention the horrible books we were forced to read… making me hate books. I
figured they just weren’t my thing. I wasn’t meant to become that kind of scholar, that
kind of smart person. Two weeks before that point in my life, I
had made it a personal project to try out lucid dreaming. I had followed internet instructions,
writing down every detail of the dreams I remembered. Soon, I was able to remember every
dream, it worked… But every single night it was a nightmare. It felt so real, I couldn’t
possibly tell I was dreaming, let alone take control of the dream, which had been the goal
of the experiment. I woke up each morning feeling not like I had been resting, but mentally
crushed. Stressed out, sweating. I dreamt about sleeping in on the day of my exams,
about failing miserably. While I was pondering the question on the piece of paper, the time
went by in an instant. 5 more minutes, the prof proclaimed, finish what you can. My papers
were still empty. Just as I wanted to write the answer, the question above changed infront
of my eyes. I wanted to stand up, scream, but I couldn’t move, I was losing my shit
and then… [ALARM CLOCK]
I had to stop the experiment. It became clear to me, I had tried to escape reality by trying
to take control of my dreams. Atleast at night, I thought, I could live life how I wanted
it to be, but trying to escape my problems didn’t work. It never does.
So here I was, on my way to the bus station as usual, but this Friday, instead of going
home directly, I decided to check something. An idea had crossed my mind. The other day
I had watched a YouTube video, I still remember the channel. GoStrongTV. Whatever happened
to that guy, he’s not making any more videos, unfortuneately, but he changed the course
of my life & he doesn’t even know it. I was doing something else while watching the video
as I often do, but then he caught my full attention. He had quoted a short excerpt of
the 50th Law. “The very first thing I remember in my early
childhood is a flame, a blue flame jumping off a gas stove somebody lit… I was three
years old… I felt fear, real fear, for the first time in my life, but I remember it also
like some kind of adventure, some kind of weird joy, too. I guess that experience took
me someplace in my head I hadn’t been before. To some frontier, the edge, maybe, of everything
possible… the fear I had was almost like an invitation, a challenge to go forward into
something I knew nothing about. That’s where I think my personal philosophy of life…
started, with that moment… in my mind I have always believed and thought since then
that my motion had to be forward, away from the heat of that flame.”
It stunned me. I felt like I had just heard one of the truest things in my life. I knew
something wasn’t adding up, I just had no idea what it was. That moment I knew this
was something good. This author was the first person to tell it like it is and I could sense
that… And then I noticed, it said at the bottom of the text ’50 Cent’. I was confused,
50 Cent, the rapper, wrote a book? I had listened to 50 ever since I had an MP3 player. Through
his music, the way he was presented on MTV and his movie Get Rich or Die Tryin’ he had
become something like an idol to me. Especially as I lacked a strong father figure, I had
searched for people to admire in music & movies. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Lee, Van Damme,
even Eminem being some of the others. But I had never imagined 50 Cent writing a book
and who was this Robert Greene? How are they connected?
So, instead of going home I decided to check for myself. For the first time of my life,
I voluntarily entered a book shop. I entered a new world of possibilites & freedom, not
that I knew it at the time. Excuse me, do you have a book called The 50th
Law? – Who’s it from?” – “Umm, 50 Cent.” She gave me a weird look & typed it into the keyboard.
“With Robert Greene?”, “I think so, yea.”, “Looks like we’ve got one copy here. Just
a moment.”, “She disappeared behind a staff only door and came back with a black covered
book, golden scripture.”, “That’ll be 19 francs 90.”
I was so all over the place I hadn’t even checked the insides of my wallet. I had one
20 francs bill with me, a complete coincidence. When I look back at that moment, I think about
just how inexpensive changing your life can be. Books are a bargain. The value of a book
should never be underestimated. Reading should never be underestimated and someone should
fire all those idiots in charge of what material is to be read in the public school system.
You know what, the whole school system is fucking outdated. What a bunch of morons in
authority of our education. Once you’re out you gotta unlearn school, if you want to make
it big. What a fucking joke. I didn’t wait at all. I started reading the
book on the bus all the way home and continued going through chapter after chapter in my
bed. Now I couldn’t put it aside. It was like a scene from a movie, where the main protagonist,
who has been hit by life’s hardships finally has that vital moment of awakening. Every
chapter, every line, every quote resonated with me so deeply I felt incredible. I had
never read something so true and life-changing. I finished the book in one sitting. The time
had passed so quickly I didn’t realize it was 3 in the morning. But I didn’t need to
go to sleep. This couldn’t wait. I sat down on the computer and started writing everything
that was going through my head. I revisited all the pages I had marked, wrote down what
I was doing wrong, what I had to change and how I would go about it. The essence of the
book, Nihil Timendum Est, FEAR NOTHING became my personal motto, my mantra. I’d repeat it
to myself every time I felt slightly anxious, every time I hesitated & eventually taking
decisive, bold action wasn’t something I had to think about anymore, I didn’t need to push
myself to it, it became my natural reaction. I wouldn’t be afraid of anything, I wouldn’t
cower in my bed, covered in the fetal position anymore, whishing things had been and had
gone different, I wasn’t going to ask myself any longer ‘what if, this or what if, that…’,
I wouldn’t hesitate chatting up that beautiful girl, I wouldn’t be afraid of standing up
for myself, I wouldn’t be afraid of pushing past my comfort zone, instead I looked forward
to it and most important of all I wouldn’t be afraid of failing my exams & even if I
failed, fuck the school system, I would either find or create another way, a way to survive
whatever the scenario, only a complete fool would not employ someone of my calibre. Yes,
I didn’t have the best marks and yes, I didn’t fit into this mindless, drug-taking, alcohol-consuming
mess of a group I thought of as my only friends, but I did have not only the brains, but the
courage to question the system I was in and to do whatever it took to make it work for
me… not the other way around. I swore to myself I wouldn’t slave away for someone else’s
benefit until the age of retirement and still worry about how I’m going to pay my bills.
I could not pity myself anymore. I had never, and still to this day have never, asked myself
‘Why is it always me?’, that’s a stupid question, because it implies that only you are suffering…
bad shit happens to everyone, but to say I had never felt like screaming it at the top
of my lungs would be a lie. It just so happened that I had much more shit to go through than
most. Your first 18-24 years you’re a leaf in the fucking wind. You don’t choose your
circumstances, but wishing it were different doesn’t change anything.
So, if you’re still watching this I take it you can relate on some level & I’d like to
share what lessons I took away from the 50th Law. Now I’m going to make this short and
to the point. As humans we do tend to overcomplicate things and I’m completely sold to the idea
that it can be as simple as what’s coming now.
1. Intense Realism We live in an age of general anxiety. We fear
not, if we’ll survive the next attack from an enemy tribe, if we’ll gather and hunt enough
natural resources to sustain ourselves or if we’ll find shelter and warmth nearby a
fireplace in a cave. While the intensity of the dangers we face lessened throughout human
evolution, our sense of fear, an emotion that kept us alive, manifested in a different form,
one that greatly limits our potential and our worries dramatically grew in number.
Instead of real threats, we began to fear the loss of material wealth, worry about our
status in society, about what the unknown future will bring, about illness and growing
old, things as petty and nonessential as the uneducated opinions of people we personally
dislike. Not until we have a near death experience or almost lose one of our loved ones are we
reminded of what truly matters. And it’s at this point, when we live through a tragedy,
that we are aware, that we see the world through our heart… for a couple of days, maybe even
weeks, until we forget and get sucked back into focusing on our next promotion, social
acceptance and superficial qualities. We avoid the truth and seek comfort in lies
we get told and tell ourselves. For every unpleasant thought we have, there’s someone
soothing playing to our fantasies. They might say “You shouldn’t worry about your time on
earth, you will live a better life after death, if you believe in and join our religion / cause.”
Or they might say “It is not your fault you feel miserable, they are the ones responsible
for your suffering. Help us fight them collectively.” And they may also say “You do not have to
work hard at all, play it smart instead and buy our program. We guarantee easy and fast
results. Just follow our secret code to cheat the system.” And we choose to listen to them,
because it’s what we want to hear. The truth is more often than not undesirable. Honesty
is punished. We get mad at people who tell the truth. Stating the obvious has become
a social faux-pas resulting in modernday which hunts designed to ruin our lives, if we don’t
fit in, thus further encouraging group think and growing our fear of not belonging, of
standing out with genuine authenticity, thus drawing unwanted attention to ourselves.
See the reality of the world you live in. Question the status quo. Knowledge is power.
The more you obtain of it the better off you are. Remind yourself constantly what’s important
and what isn’t. We’ve been wired in a way that makes us pay attention to the negative
and black out the positive. You’re aware of this and you don’t let yourself be seduced
by comfortable lies, constant outrage and wishful thinking.
2. Self-Reliance Being independent. Relying on nobody else,
but yourself is probably the greatest achievement for any humanbeing. What’s more dangerous
and appealing, than a person who doesn’t need anyone and anything. You don’t like what they
have to offer, you just walk away. You got leverage, you don’t have to depend on anyone.
You either find a way or you make one. No one holds great power over you, because you
can survive without them. They cannot control you as you don’t require them one bit. Be
self-reliant and no challenge is too big for you. Your resilience is incredible. Where
others wait for things to happen, you’ve already gotten into the habit of making things happen
years ago. You trust yourself, because you know what you’re capable of. You start by
taking small steps into the right direction and every step you take adds to your confidence.
I’m reviewing Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay on Self-Reliance next. I expand upon what
it means to be and how to become self-reliant. This whole chapter in the 50th law was inspired
by Emerson’s essay. It’s had a tremendous impact on Robert Greene. And I’m convinced
you’ll draw value from it for yourself. 3. Opportunism
Open your eyes, opportunities are everywhere around you, but they have a lifespan – a time
window, so you have to act swiftly. Time doesn’t wait for you. Time doesn’t wait for anyone.
When 50 saw he could tap into the music business & leave behind dealing drugs & gang wars on
the streets, he took that opportunity & ran with it. He understood, the time to act boldly
had come. He established himself swiftly, before that life on the streets would have
gotten him killed or imprisoned for life. Start looking for a way out & when you see
a chance for yourself, take it. Look, if you had, one shot, or one opportunity. To seize
everything you ever wanted. In one moment. Would you capture it, or just let it slip?
That’s the intro to Lose Yourself by Eminem. And if you can relate to this, you know exactly
what I’m talking about. You might not be able to get out of it tomorrow. You gotta leave
the hood behind. Crime is not worth it in the longrun. Realize the one’s keeping you
from getting out, the ones saying you’ve changed and you’re not you anymore, they’re not your
friends. They’re fucking losers. You don’t owe them a thing. You don’t need them for
you count on nobody else but yourself. Remember, you’re self-reliant.
There’s a good reason Greene’s books are the most-read in prison. They know the streets
& they wanna leave that shit behind, man. This applies everywhere. In business, especially
today, keep looking for opportunities. You don’t owe your company shit. They will saw
you off the minute they can replace you with someone more cost-efficient. Doesn’t matter
how much smarter you are. It’s a profit-driven machine, there’s no room for feelings. The
guy telling you you’re fired won’t give a fuck about you ending up underneath a brige
with your family, why would you be so foolish to give a fuck about him? You might feed the
lion one second and the next he’s fucking eating you, alright? Because it’s not enough,
it’s never enough in this business driven economy. Especially since your’e being exploited.
You depend on that job to keep food on the table, you’re not self-reliant. I know it’s
tough, no one said it was easy. You have to get more income sources going. That’s just
a fact in today’s world. You got the internet. Get creative. Otherwise you’re building on
quicksand. 4. Momentum
It takes more energy to push an object than to keep it moving. The most difficult part
is starting. Taking that first bold action, even though it’s scary, and establishing momentum.
Keeping at it day in and day out. Greatness is developed through hours and hours every
day of the week, every month of the year. Don’t allow any slack. If your day sucked
shit, go to bed and start again. It’s not an excuse, that you if failed on Monday you
keep failing on Tuesday. You keep going. You gotta have that vision. See the light at the
end of the tunnel and remind yourself everytime you think about giving up that you will never
see the light and make it out if you quit. You cannot stop now, you’ve come to far to
give up. You’re being watched. I don’t care if it’s your father, your mother, your siblings,
your partner, your children. They are watching you and they expect you to do great things.
They expect you to lead by example and make them proud. You cannot quit, you must keep
going. Repeat after me. I can, I will, I must. Breathe life into it. There’s no plan B. Good.
5. Resisting Oh man this is the worst. Look around you
& tell me honestly – what do you see? You see a bunch of mediocre, average, unoriginal
copies of eachother blindly following along without questioning anything and they’re all
coping. They’re trying to ease the pain they feel, because they’ve given up. They’re coping
with alcohol, drugs, junk food, material possessions and the worst about it is. They become a slave
to their possessions. They cannot resist giving in to addiction. Giving in to vices and feeling
out of control about it. I don’t know one person, myself included, that isn’t or hasn’t
been addicted to some destructive habit. Most of us are literally incapable of taking care
of our bodies and what we put into it, because we lack self-discipline. I had a friend who
smokes two packs a day and he’s been saying how he wants to quit for over 3 years now.
He knows what to do, but he can’t. I’m no saint, either. I fucking love video games.
It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. Immediate gratification, endless fun,
a way to escape my problems. I sit on my computer conquering the whole world as Napeoleon Bonaparte,
what a time to be alive, right? It’s a double edged sword really. I’ve become pretty good
at disciplining myself today, but I’m afraid of getting anywhere near videogames for they
will consume me. I lose all sense of time and give up on everything that’s important.
I can wake up feeling ready for a tough workout, sit down & start a game, get comfortable within
minutes and then feel like ‘fuck it, I’ll workout tomorrow.’ So I don’t allow myself
to do that. I don’t buy or even install video games anymore. I resist being a slave to what’s
addicting to me. 50 Cent’s example was being around drugs all
day. When you’re selling that stuff on the streets of Queens, a question presents itself.
Do you try your own product? Do you get high & drunk at parties all week long? 50 saw what
it made out of people. He saw living examples of what would happen with him. It’s not pretty
being a crackfiend, so he made the decision to stay away from it. Look, 50’s music is
all about how hard he parties all day long. “In da club” is the record that made him famous.
He doesn’t actually do any of that. While you’re in the club getting drunk and listening
to his songs, he’s working on his new album, on his movies, on his vitamin water. He’s
hustling his ass off, while you think it’s all about party, hoes & streetlife. Resist
being average guys. And I know some of you beat yourselves up over it. We’re all human
we’re not perfect. And taking control of ourselves builds our character. Self-discipline comes
with happiness. 6. Authority
This is about leadership. Picture Leonidas, king of the Spartans or any great leader for
that matter. Picture Alexander the Great, leading the spearhead of his cavalry. They
have no fear. How else, could they set the tone and be in charge. Look at a pack of wolves,
they follow the strongest, fiercest leader, not the weak and defenseless. If you’re going
to lead the people following you to success they will follow you. If you’ve got no followers,
you’re not worth following. You want authority, you have to earn it. Work for it.
7. Connection I’ve already talked about this. In Robert’s
words Know your environment inside out. Direct quote “Most people think first of what
they want to express or make, then find the audience for their idea. You must work the
opposite angle.” Now what stuck with me from Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead was the architect
saying something along the lines of “I don’t build in order to sell, I sell in order to
build.” It’s not quite the same, but I’ll leave it up to you to make the connection.
A little word play here. 8. Mastery
Greene went ahead and made a whole book in addition to this chapter. You can become a
master if you put in the time. No matter what environment you were brought up in. If a 12
year old orphan can build an empire without going to school, then fighting 4-5 years older
dealers for territory, then running the streets, then dominating the music industry and then
selling shit like vitamin water. I’m still baffled that actually sells, than so can you.
Check out my review on Mastery here. Don’t worry, it’ll open up in a new tab.
9. Self-Belief To me this all ties down to being self-reliant.
Being fearless demands you trust yourself with such strength, that you have no doubts,
when it comes to your success. Your confidence is grounded on knowing who you are and seeing
yourself in action. It’s not just a mental shift. You’re congruent. Your words, thoughts
and actions are in alignment. In other words, you’re for real. You’re not arrogant, you’re
just so far beyond what your average person looks like that you can’t help but believe
in yourself. You’ve faced far more serious problems than the fears of the mediocre. Their
limits are a joke to you. And they should be. Believe in yourself.
10. Mortality We are going to die. There is no way around
it. You fear death, because you fear life. If you were living life to the fullest, you
would be prepared to die at any moment. Like let’s imagine for a second, this was our final
destination, I know it’s a scary thought, but bear with me. If we asked ourselves right
now “Did I truly live the life I wanted and make the most out of it?” The answer for most
of us would be “No, not really.”, but here’s the positive. It’s not too late for us, we’re
very fortunate to have opportunities that our ancestors couldn’t even dream up. You
can start right now and if you’ve already started, you can keep going. Every morning
you wake up is a blessing. You might not see that, because you hate your job, I’ve been
there, but that doesn’t mean you hate life. Your job is the problem. It’s designed to
waste your life, so the people you’re working for live all the memories & stories that you
deserve. You want a reason to subscribe? I’ll go hard on this subject very soon, on how
to make the system work for you, not the other way around.
Live an extraordinary life. Your days are numbered. You won’t get another chance. This
is what you’ve got. You can play and win the game with the hand you’ve been dealt. It’s
up to you how well you execute, no matter the circumstances you were born in. You might
have to work harder than everybody else in order for it to pay off in the end, but you
can’t expect anything, if you waste your time. Eventually, every second you chose to sacrifice
for immediate gratification will accumulate and hit you hard. Value your time, invest
it intelligently, know who to have time for and how much, appreciate every moment and
you will see positive results. If you fuck up today, start again tomorrow. Not new year’s
eve, but the second you wake up, it’s on. Break the devil’s cycle, before you become
entrenched in it. Once you realize, once you believe this, I
wholeheartedly do, you can stop wishing for things to happen, you can let go of the negative
experiences you’ve had in your past and focus on living in the present, while preparing
for the future. And I said preparing for the future, not worrying about it.
All our lives are temporary. You feel uncomfortable hearing that, because you’re most likely concious
you’re wasting more time, than you should. We all are. Have a sense of urgency. I love
ancient history and one of the things they believed is that the gods are doomed for they
live forever. The fact that we won’t live forever makes everything better. Every moment
is precious. Our memory of our loved ones and past relationships pains us, when in fact
it’s how we will be remembered that will make us live on. We all know of Achilles, because
his story was written down in the Iliad and you don’t have to storm Troy to reach immortality,
but realize that your time in this world is limited. Time cannot be recovered, so invest
it wisely. Most of us need to stop thinking tomorrow and start thinking NOW. Not sometime
later today, but right now. Life is precious, because it ends.
Thank you for being here, for not getting offended by nothing, for actually facing the
reality like a strong and smart person should, for not giving up on yourself, I know it’s
hard sometimes… and most importantly, thank you for having the courage and the strength
to be your self. Nihil Timendum Est. Fear nothing… That’s it… that’s all I got.
Talk to you soon.