The 50th Law by Robert Greene: Summary, Quotes, Lessons, and Chapter Wise Notes.

Summary:

The 50th Law is one the finest milestone of Robert Greene dedicated to every one of us since it teaches us from past experiences that we may face in the future, and if we know how to overcome our fear, we can overcome any obstacle in life. It teaches us how to face the deepest fears of our life. People had different fears; some are afraid of water while some are afraid of fire; some are afraid of being abandoned while some are afraid of being caught in emotional drama; some are afraid of heights while some are afraid of fights. All of us have fears in our lives that kill our morals and confidence from time to time to eradicate the fear that haunts us by facing the fear rather than hiding from it and avoiding it. It also teaches us the positive sides of fear, suffering, grief, challenges, and setbacks. Robert Greene says “Having a brush with death, or being reminded in a dramatic way of the shortness of our lives, can have a positive, therapeutic effect. Our days are numbered and so it is best to make every moment count, to have a sense of urgency about life. It could end at any moment. ” He also warns us that don’t try too hard to please people since they won’t be happy with us. The more you try to please them, they will just avoid you and be unhappy and stop pleasing people. Do serve your purpose in this short life and don’t try too hard to win people’s hearts who degrade and belittle you.

Chapter 1

See Things for What They Are-Intense Realism

The following are discussed in Chapter 1 in detail:

Fantasies and their consequences:

In chapter 1, Robert Greene teaches us that a life lived in fantasies has dire consequences since once your mind drifts into dreams you stop paying attention to things happening around you, and you lag behind in the race of life. People have a tendency to live their life according to a certain way and when things change they wish things would have been the same way, and instead of acting and facing reality and hardship to make things right, they drift into fantasies and wish it wouldn’t have happened; life would have been better. We shouldn’t forget this fact: life is unpredictable and we need to adjust ourselves to the situations. We need to be adaptable. As Robert Green says:

“Reality has its own power—you can turn your back on it, but it will find you in the end, and your inability to cope with it will be your ruin.”

People with masks:

A lot of emphasis has been put on masks that people wear to hide their true intentions. We are warned that be careful not to be deceived by a friendly smile.  People have ulterior motives that they don’t reveal early unless they get what they want from you so be cautious when someone’s getting closer to you without any reason. The author says that people have much knowledge; they have read countless books but they are not updated on their surroundings, they lack real-life’s experiences which are important for survival since you may face unexpected problems in the future or you may encounter deception and you may be manipulated and used so if you lack experiences, you will end up in the worst place. It is said that don’t judge people by friendliness but rather by their acts since people are not how they appear and being a leader your job is not to spend time with friendly people but rather spend time with those who give you the outcomes. Better keep people of acts, not those who postpone things and create problems. You should be alert to read signs and act before things go ugly and out of hand.

Adopt the mindset of a child:

It is written that for learning we need to act like we are children and explore as children since children are very curious by nature and they keep exploring and exploring; they are open to new experiences. This is what we adults should be in life always open to feedback and constructive criticisms, not take people’s comments seriously that could help us improve our lives, and better reflect on the comments to overcome the flaws that destroy our life.

Problem-solving:

We human beings act nervously when we face a problem, and we put the blame on others or we put blame on ourselves, and we regret our decisions. We wish we didn’t act this way. Without reaching the depth of the problem, we believe what looks on the surface, and it just clouds our thoughts and judgments that result in poor decisions and much harm. It is advised that we should examine the problem we are facing from every angle since looking at the problem from one angle hides the other side.

Boldness:

People who have the mindset of a loser lag behind in the race of life, and they later end up in the worst place that ever existed on earth. Compared to those who have the mindset of the winner, they act with heart and boldness and achieve what they are after. Boldness does matter in life, and without boldness, we miss a lot of opportunities.

Dreamers:

People who live in fantasies miss what happens in front of them and before they are aware of their surroundings, their lives have been upside-down. We need to face reality and live life realistically. Sinking into dreams drifts us away from our real aim in life. The real beauty and charm are in this moment, the reality is everything and we all should accept it rather than hide or run from it due to its harsh face.

Chapter 2

Make Everything Your Own—Self-Reliance

In chapter 2, a lot of things are discussed that if we follow can improve our lives drastically and we can learn a lot that we had missed in the past, though happened in front of our eyes, but we didn’t dive deeper. The following are discussed:

Self-reliant:

People who are not self-reliant face a lot of problems in life owing to the needs of others. They seek validations and affirmations to soothe their ego, to feel better, and to make others happy. Dependency is a monster that feeds on us when we lose control and succumb to the need of others. Self-reliant people don’t need others to define them, they are able to make their own decisions and live their life according to their rules. They can survive on their own; they have the ability to lead; they secure high posts in life owing to the independent and decision-making skills that they acquire through constant struggle.

Fearless:

We need to have a fearless approach in life, and to live a fearless life we need to have this thing in mind I will do what is right for me, what I want, what is my passion, I will not let others compel me to do things that I hate. You should say that I’m born alone, and I will die alone, and I’m the author of my life. Having a fearless attitude will help you face hardships and hard times in life, and accomplish what others dream of.

Self-interest:

A human being is selfish by nature so a friendly gesture can be a sign of self-interest from someone you barely know who has started approaching you and getting closer to you while that person was not that close in the past. These are signs that you need to read as everyone is after his interest, and no one cares what you want. Every relationship is based on self-interest, and you need to know who you should enter your inner circle and who you should expel from your inner circle. Life is too short to let others use you over and over again, and you don’t say anything in return, not even say a few harsh words just to let them know that I am not a child.

Being too nice:

Those who are not able to break the norms keep themselves under the suppression of others, and they are treated as children, not granting them their rights by superiors. What they do they keep the “too nice” too suppressed, and often praise them for their good work, and the next day criticizes them for their trivial mistakes. They work day and night to win their boss’ heart. They let others define them; they let others lead them in a direction they don’t want to follow but they are too timid and shy to say “NO” and do as they, please.

Obligations:

People shower you with gifts and favors to keep you under obligations and get the advantage of your skills and talents. As Robert Green says “let others do the work while you take the credit’. Such people are good at such things. They know life is too short and they cannot achieve everything they want in such a short span of life. What they do, is hire people who have the skills and get attached to them to get what they want. People who are obliged to others are hesitant to speak against their cruelty and injustice since they are already under a mammoth of favors and obligations. Free yourself from such people as early as possible, otherwise, the price you pay will be huge than the favors and gifts.

Reflection of your identity:

You should keep this thing in mind that you are unique and there is no one like you, and if you let other people define you and set the boundaries for you, you will not just lose your identity but you will believe in a lot of malicious things that will destroy your confidence and your uniqueness. So, be careful, do not let negative things persist in your heart and mind for so long rather reflect on them and understand whether what is told about you is true or not. As long as you maintain your uniqueness and charm, you will be the center of attention, and people around you would be jealous of your independence and self-reliance, and they would try their best to bring down your morale. Defend yourself and maintain your uniqueness in a crowd that all look alike in some ways. Your uniqueness will seduce everyone and very soon you will create an audience for yourself.

Smooth talkers and gregarious:

Talkative people are always in search of people to share their ideas with them just to feel happy when the listeners nod their heads in yes, they depend on others while those who are self-sufficient do not need others to let them know how great their ideas are. Self-reliant and self-sufficient people lead their life according to their own rules and principles. They are comfortable themselves, they do not others to define them. They attract others through their calmness and charm. When you appear needy, you push people.

Imitation:

Imitation is suicide and those who follow others lose their charm and uniqueness. Losing uniqueness means losing of everything: character, personality, behavior, attitude, and gestures__. Imitating others makes you look fake and unreliable and you look ordinary and common. Maintain your own charm!

Chapter 3

Turn Shit into Sugar—Opportunism

Chapter 3 is about opportunities: how to get the most out of each moment.

Negative situation:

Facing negative situations teaches us a lot about life and makes us prepare for the next battle of life. There are a lot of opportunities hidden in scary situations that people avoid owing to fear of being caught and pain. The great people went through sufferings and hardships and faced the hard face of life that made them the legend and the strongest men and women. Avoiding negative situations means avoiding life, and a negative situation avoided today should be faced tomorrow with a new face. Now, if someone who has not avoided the nasty problem happened to him yesterday is prepared to face the problem worse than yesterday since he has experienced and faced problems and has not run. Hardships make us strong and by facing tragedies and disasters, we are able to survive and seek opportunities in the abyss of life. Comfort is for the weak, the strong strive in the darkness.  “IF ONE IS CONTINUALLY SURVIVING THE WORST THAT LIFE CAN BRING, ONE EVENTUALLY CEASES TO BE CONTROLLED BY A FEAR OF WHAT LIFE CAN BRING.” Things will happen to you in life, now it depends on you how you face those things: through a positive mindset or a negative mindset. If you think like a pessimist, you will see negativity in everything, but if you adopt a positive mindset, you will see a beam of light in the negative things that happen to you, and you would feel reborn and refreshed to face the problem with zeal and zest. Mindset does depend on decision-making, having a clear mindset helps us face the problem and reach a conclusion early, while a foggy mindset just confuses us and clouds our judgments.

Illusions:

We live in a society where some people believe that they are more wealthy and have privileges so they don’t deserve to face ugly things in life, and they face a nasty problems, they blame others since they have the illusions that bad things should not happen to them, and they waste their precious time whining and complaining, not thinking about the problem’ root and its dire consequences. By the time, they act, it is too late, and things have got pretty worse. We need to solve the problem as we face it rather than putting the blame on others or waiting for others to help us. We don’t have to get emotional and aggressive rather stay calm to carefully examine the problem.

Fool waits:

When they face a problem or are stuck in a predicament, they wait for others to help them or wait for tomorrow or the day after tomorrow for a specific moment believing that things would improve when a specific day or a certain person appears. Things are delayed, and things get spoiled and rotten. It is advised to solve the problem as you face it and reach its depth and seek opportunities in it. Understanding how to get the most out of a precarious situation is a sign of wisdom and maturity.

Be cautious when things are going smoothly:

When life is calm and things are normal and everything is the way we wanted, we fall asleep with the hope that life would continue this way and nothing would happen. We forget that life is unpredictable, and if things are ok today, they can worsen tomorrow. You should be cautious that the worst tragedies happen to us when things are normal and we forget to focus on the things happening around us, this is when we fall into the abyss of life. Don’t fall asleep when everything is smooth, rather stay active and observe your surroundings and plan for the future, and seek more opportunities.

Seize the opportunity:

People wait for the right moment and right opportunity, and they keep waiting to lose their golden times of youth and energy and before they get what they were after, they are too tired and sick of life. Waiting kills our spirits and moments, opportunities are everywhere around us, and we need to be active and alert to seize them.

“According to conventional wisdom, an opportunity is something that exists out there in the world; if it comes our way and we seize it, it brings us money and power.”

The beauty of difficult situations:

We are lazy and tired, and we become super active when we are trapped in a challenging situation or meeting a deadline. We just wonder how our mind works so perfectly, how we focus on tiny details, and we get the most out of it since we know if we don’t get out of it, we are drowned and killed, and life is better than death once it is in our hands and we can save ourselves. Difficult situations give us signals and extract our best qualities in us, we seize the moments to seize the opportunities by playing with fire.

“True opportunists do not require urgent, stressful circumstances to become alert and inventive. They operate this way on a daily basis.”

Make the most out of what you have:

Facing hardships is what makes you strong and prepared for your next battle of life. Every negative situation and enemy you face gives you opportunities to get stronger. Facing enemies makes you more aggressive and gives you a strong boost of energy to overcome them, channeling negative emotions to positive ones not just makes you more confident but helps you see things through a clear lens, and you get the most out of the negative emotions. Not every negative emotion is bad if you can channel it into something useful and productive.

Move before you think you are ready:

People wait for the right moment to act due to fear and lack of confidence, it is advised to act before you are ready since the perfect moment does not come, better play with storms and get used to the harsh reality of life, and get the most out of the dangerous situations. You will miss the beauty of life if you stay in your comfort zone, and someday you will face hard times so you should act now so that you get prepared for the next encounter.

“Most people wait too long to go into action, generally out of fear. They want more money or better circumstances. You must go the opposite direction and move before you think you are ready.”

Energy and high morale:

Achieving a remarkable goal is not difficult when your energy and morale are high. With confidence, anything is achievable, without high morale and energy, you will likely lose everything instead of achieving. Seize the opportunities with high morale and confidence.

WITHOUT DOUBT, PRINCES BECOME GREAT WHEN THEY OVERCOME DIFFICULTIES AND HURDLES PUT IN THEIR PATH. WHEN FORTUNE WANTS TO ADVANCE A NEW PRINCE…SHE CREATES ENEMIES FOR HIM, MAKING THEM LAUNCH CAMPAIGNS AGAINST HIM SO THAT HE IS COMPELLED TO OVERCOME THEM AND CLIMB HIGHER ON THE LADDER THAT THEY HAVE BROUGHT HIM. THEREFORE, MANY JUDGE THAT A WISE PRINCE MUST SKILLFULLY FAN SOME ENMITY WHENEVER THE OPPORTUNITY ARISES, SO THAT IN CRUSHING IT HE WILL INCREASE HIS STANDING.

—Niccolò Machiavelli

Chapter 4:

Keep Moving—Calculated Momentum

The chapter teaches us great lessons: how to survive the worst and go with chaos.

“THE OLD MUSICIANS STAY WHERE THEY ARE AND BECOME LIKE MUSEUM PIECES UNDER GLASS, SAFE, EASY TO UNDERSTAND, PLAYING THAT TIRED OLD SHIT OVER AND OVER AGAIN…. BEBOP WAS ABOUT CHANGE, ABOUT EVOLUTION. IT WASN’T ABOUT STANDING STILL AND BECOMING SAFE. IF ANYBODY WANTS TO KEEP CREATING THEY HAVE TO BE ABOUT CHANGE.”

Go with the flow:

Focusing on each thing exhausts us, reliving the past is horrible, and it makes our present worse and our future the worst. You should go with chaos and face life, better change your appearance as time demands it. Chaos carries a lot of opportunities with itself, we need to open our eyes to grab them.

The disadvantage of clinging to the same ideas:

Clinging to the old ways of life and ideas make us blind to the changes happening around us, and we lag behind in the competitive world since life is in constant flux, and what worked yesterday may not be as efficient today so it is better to be adaptable and maintain momentum and rhyme in life, rather forcing people to do as you please since it may not work, and people may not like your ideas. A flexible mind is a real blessing.

“This hunger for control, common to all of us, is the root of so many problems in life.”

Influencing people:

Influencing people is the hardest thing to do in life since everyone has his own ideas and mindset and forcing them to do what you want makes them resentful and bitter. The best way to influence people is to bend to their different energies, and then slowly convert them into your way and get your job done. Keep moving in their direction, and then convert them to your direction.

“Water can adapt to whatever comes its way, moving around or over any obstacle. It wears away rock over time. This form of power does not mean you simply give in to what life brings you and drift. It means that you channel the flow of events in your direction, letting this add to the force of your actions and giving you powerful momentum.”

The fluidity of thoughts:

The fluidity of thoughts has a magical effect on people, and they attract you as they are under your spell since you do not follow conventional ideas and styles of living. Life is changing each moment, and being adaptable and fluid give you an edge over others who are conservative and have rigid thoughts and mindsets. Such flow takes you to the height of success. Be open to new ideas!

“You are stronger by having a softness that allows you to bend and adapt.”

Predictability vs unpredictability:

Those people who are rigid and hold on to conventional ideas are predictable and an easy target since everyone can predict their next move, and they may easily lose what they have earned even to the weakest enemy. On the contrary, adaptable people are hard to be deceived and defeated since they are fluid in nature and adapt themselves to the circumstances that make them indispensable and the true warriors of life. Rigidity destroys while fluidity saves.

“Most people in life are rigid and predictable; that makes them easy targets. Your fluid, unpredictable strategies will drive them insane. They cannot foresee your next move or figure you out. That is often enough to make them give way or fall apart.”

Chapter 5

Know When to Be Bad—Aggression

Being nice makes us an easy target to those who are good at manipulating and deceiving people, in order to face people who are aggressive, you need to let them know that you also have dark sides that can hurt you badly. People have ulterior motives, and they will cross your path someday in the future, you need to be smart enough to catch them before they have done their job and have got what they were after. You need to know what to be bad to get what you want.

“YOU WILL ALWAYS FIND YOURSELF AMONG THE AGGRESSIVE AND THE PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE WHO SEEK TO HARM YOU IN SOME WAY. YOU MUST GET OVER ANY GENERAL FEARS YOU HAVE OF CONFRONTING PEOPLE OR YOU WILL FIND IT EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO ASSERT YOURSELF IN THE FACE OF THOSE WHO ARE MORE CUNNING AND RUTHLESS. BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE YOU MUST MASTER THE ART OF KNOWING WHEN AND HOW TO BE BAD—USING DECEPTION, MANIPULATION, AND OUTRIGHT FORCE AT THE APPROPRIATE MOMENTS. EVERYONE OPERATES WITH A FLEXIBLE MORALITY WHEN IT COMES TO THEIR SELF-INTEREST—YOU ARE SIMPLY MAKING THIS MORE CONSCIOUS AND EFFECTIVE.”

Grab what you want:

People get emotional and dramatic in life, and the easy target to be used is the “too nice” and “too emotional”. The easiest way to achieve something great in life is to distract people with something strange and phenomenal, involve them in an emotional drama while they are busy sorting things out, you just strike and grab what you are after.

“You distract people with something dramatic and emotional, and while they are not paying attention to you, you grab what you want.”

Be aggressive:

It is not easy to get what you want in life, there are people who will surely block your way and be the hindrance on your path to success. Staying quiet and begging won’t help you, sometimes you should show outright hostility and aggressiveness to clear your way and grab what you desired. It is unfair to let someone block your way just because he has aggressive and strong, you should kill aggression with aggression sometimes to achieve your goals.

“Talent and good intentions are never enough in this world; you need to be fearless and strategic. When you face people’s indifference or outright hostility you have to get aggressive and push them out of your way by any means necessary, and not worry about some people disliking you.”

Overcome your fear:

Confronting people is challenging when there is fear in our hearts since fear controls everything. Being afraid of consequences makes us more scared and skittish and we grieve in silence under the rule of a tyrant. You should keep in mind that the person I am facing is as immortal as me, and I don’t deserve to be treated this way. We stay quiet because of our fears, and the “too nice” have deep fears and suffer throughout their life.

“When you feel weak and afraid, you have the sense that you cannot handle any kind of confrontation. You might fall apart or lose control or get hurt.”

Get active:

Being lazy lags us behind in life speedily, getting active means making some noise and confronting people who try to control your life. Let your enemies know there is no force that can stop me from achieving your goals. Observe your surroundings and be cautious about who is with you and who is against you. Be clever to catch the enemy in the guise of a friend.

“If you have dreams and ambitions, you know that to realize them you have to get active, make some noise, bruise a few people in your path.”

Be different:

Caring about people’s opinions and pleasing people is the hardest thing to do. You should develop your own charisma and style, and let people talk about you and this will make you more famous and enigmatic. You should be proud of your acts and pursue what you are after if you believe it is worth pursuing.

“He didn’t care if people thought he was different—he was proud of it.”

Chapter 6

Lead from the Front—Authority

A leader has to impress the group with his actions, complaining and whining have a counterproductive effect, and what we wish to achieve through the efforts of the team, we do not since haranguing leads to poor performance and poor performance leads to poor results. The leader should lead from the front and reflect the qualities in the acts that he wants to see in his team.

“IN ANY GROUP, THE PERSON ON TOP CONSCIOUSLY OR UNCONSCIOUSLY SETS THE TONE. 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. COMPLAINING AND HARANGUING PEOPLE TO WORK HARDER HAS A COUNTERPRODUCTIVE EFFECT. YOU MUST ADOPT THE OPPOSITE STYLE: IMBUE YOUR TROOPS WITH THE PROPER SPIRIT THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS, NOT WORDS. THEY SEE YOU WORKING HARDER THAN ANYONE, HOLDING YOURSELF TO THE HIGHEST STANDARDS, TAKING RISKS WITH CONFIDENCE, AND MAKING TOUGH DECISION. THIS INSPIRES AND BINDS THE GROUP TOGETHER. IN THESE DEMOCRATIC TIMES, YOU MUST PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH.”

Don’t relax and rest on your name:

The worst mistake people make is they rest and get relaxed when they achieve something big, they feel proud of their past achievements and do not look forward to competing with others since they feel they are complete. When they become passive, other competitive people excel in their fields. True leaders do not cling to past achievements, they live in the present and plan for the future.

“In this world, you cannot relax and rest on your name, your past achievements, your title. You have to fight to impose your difference and compel people to follow your lead.”

Listen less to people who slow you down:

People who have the ability to lead listen less to people who belittle them. They stand out from the huge crowd owing to their uniqueness and charm, and everyone around feels that person deserves to be the boss, the person can lead us. A true leader cares less about other people’s opinions and cares more about his words since he knows he is the one who can lead and control.

“WHEN I REACHED THE TOP IN BUSINESS, I ADJUSTED TO MY NEW POSITION—I BECAME BOLDER AND CRAZIER THAN BEFORE. AND I LISTENED EVEN LESS TO PEOPLE WHO TRIED TO SLOW ME DOWN.”

Trying to control everything:

Trying to control everything is a sign of weakness and insecurity, trying too hard to control people and make them work under pressure just escalates things. Great people and leaders do not try too hard to control everything, but rather impress the team with acts and bend to their energies to get the job done.

“Now they are alone and on the top, their every decision and action scrutinized by the group and the public. The pressures can be intense. And what inevitably happens is that many of them unconsciously succumb to all kinds of fears. Whereas before they might have been bold and creative, now they grow cautious and conservative, aware of the heightened stakes.”

Making the hard decisions:

Great leaders are ready to embrace setbacks, they are not afraid of a bleak future. They have the ability to make tough decisions and make bold moves in the midst of chaos. They are fearless; they are bold; they are decisive, and they are willing to play with fire, and this is what makes them different from others.

“People like Napoleon Bonaparte, Mahatma Gandhi, and Winston Churchill. What links these people together is not some mysterious skill or bit of knowledge, but rather a quality of character, a temperament that reveals the essence of the art.”

Lead from the front:

Great leaders do not hide behind closed doors and give orders from distances. All the great generals, and all the great leaders in history lead their troops and teams from the front and walk with them side by side to earn their respect and loyalty. Shouting orders from a distance is not strong enough to motivate people, they just get lazier and dull. While setting close to the group, taking tough decisions, and discussing things unite the team together to fight for a great cause.

“Leaders who work harder than anyone else, who practice what they preach, who are not afraid to be accountable for tough decisions or to take risks, will find they have created a well of respect that will pay great dividends down the road.”

Chapter 7

Know Your Environment from the Inside Out—Connection

Observing our environment is crucial for our survival and prosperity. We may face people who are friendly and nice, but they have a vicious face hidden behind the mask. Our audience tells us what works for us and what does not if we observe them keenly. Our life depends on the people around us, we depend on each other, and everyone has different interests and ideas, therefore, we are not able to converge. To unite your team, you should help them find a cause that is beneficial to everyone, not just a specific person. Understanding your environment and getting the most out of it is an art that you can learn by stepping out of your home and getting involved with the people around you to explore their different interests and pursue your cause.

“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, THINKING FIRST OF THE PUBLIC. YOU NEED TO KEEP YOUR FOCUS ON THEIR CHANGING NEEDS, THE TRENDS THAT ARE WASHING THROUGH THEM. BEGINNING WITH THEIR DEMAND, YOU CREATE THE APPROPRIATE SUPPLY. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF PEOPLE’S CRITICISMS—WITHOUT SUCH FEEDBACK YOUR WORK WILL BE TOO PERSONAL AND DELUSIONAL. YOU MUST MAINTAIN AS CLOSE A RELATIONSHIP TO YOUR ENVIRONMENT AS POSSIBLE, GETTING AN INSIDE “FEEL” FOR WHAT IS HAPPENING AROUND YOU. NEVER LOSE TOUCH WITH YOUR BASE.”

 Train your eyes:

People who are after power, fame and wealth train their eyes to read people from inside out. They know who is emotional, who is strong, who is weak, who is famous, who is wealthy, and who can be his easiest target in his environment. Once we know our environment, we can easily get what we want. All we have to do is step out of home and spend time with people to know them better, their weaknesses, and strengths, and once you know them, you can add them into your group. The worst mistake people make is they get sensitive to people’s comments and are lost in their own thoughts, rather focusing on what is happening around them. To get power, emotions should be controlled.

“To connect to the environment in this way would mean having to move outside ourselves, train our eyes on people, but so often we prefer to live in our heads, amid our own thoughts and dreams. We strive to make everything in the world familiar and simple. We grow insensitive to people’s differences, to the details that make them individuals.”

A fundamental fearlessness:

People who are conservative live their life according to a set of beliefs and ideas that they have been following for years, and they feel bad when someone goes against their ideas and ways of life. We should be open to new ideas, and we should not get emotional and personal when someone says or does something that is the opposite of what we usually do. In our environment, people of different cultures, religions, caste,s and colors live, and if we just cling to a fixed mindset, we miss learning a lot of things that we can learn from others. Be fearless in your attitude to approach others, and keep exploring new things. There is beauty in dynamics and new ideas, and we are afraid to extract the hidden treasures owing to adhering to a specific code of life. It is hard to muster the power and get famous if we are not able to adapt and be flexible.

“Understand: the opposite approach is the way to power in this world. It begins with a fundamental fearlessness—you do not feel afraid or affronted by people who have different ways of thinking or acting.”

Understand your public:

Great musicians, politicians, and developers fail to earn fame and money due to their inability to understand their audience. The key to success in marketing is to know about the environment and its people, what works in India may not work in America, and vice versa. What was popular in the 60s may not be that popular in the 20s. We need to get into the mind of the public and read their psyche. We do work hard, but we are wrapped up in our thoughts.

“The great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky had almost two separate parts to his career: in the first, he was a socialist who interacted mostly with other intellectuals. His novels and stories were relatively successful. But then in 1849 he was sentenced to several years of prison and hard labor in Siberia for ostensibly conspiring against the government. There, he suddenly discovered that he hadn’t known the Russian people at all. In prison he was thrown in among the dregs of society. In the small village where he did his hard labor, he finally mingled with the Russian peasantry that dominated the country. Once he was freed, all of these experiences became deeply embedded in his work, and suddenly his novels resonated far beyond intellectual circles. He understood his public, the mass of Russian people, from the inside, and his work became immensely popular.”

Communicate with them:

We tend to avoid people physically or mentally due to fear of criticism of our ideas and busy routine. The more distance we keep, the more we push them away. It is important to share your ideas with people without fear since your outcome is for your audience, as dearly as we communicate to our public, we occupy a place for ourselves in their hearts as well as minds, and the less scared we get when we face them. Communication is important for growth and understanding, and we need to communicate with people in our environment to know what they lack in life, and if we could provide what they need, they would trust and support us in the future.

“We are social creatures who make things in order to communicate and connect with those around us. Your goal must be to break down the distance between you and your audience, the base of your support in life. Some of this distance is mental—it comes from your ego and the need to feel superior. Some of it is physical—the nature of your business tends to shut you off from the public with layers of bureaucracy.”

Inspire them to action:

There are people in our environment who crave inspirational words. We need to inspire such actions, and they will do the job for us. We need to know their problems, and what they lack in life. All the great politicians know the public’s problems, and they make lofty promises to overcome their problems. They inspire them with words and acts to win their support.

“Malcolm hated that feeling of creeping paternalism. In his mind, people can only help themselves—his role was to inspire them to action, not act in their name.”

Chapter 8

Respect the Process—Mastery

People commit mistakes in life following shortcuts while leaving the hard path to success that they have already covered. Shortcuts are good for the short term, we need to focus on the long term. People who look for shortcuts to earn money lose it as quickly as they earn it. Mastery takes time and patience, it takes a lot of practice and commitment. We need to go through the drudgery and hard times to reach the peak of success. All the great people in history became masters in their fields because they went through the hard times; they did not give up; they accepted rejections and failures, and they listened to their hearts.

“THE FOOLS IN LIFE WANT THINGS FAST AND EASY-MONEY, SUCCESS, ATTENTION. BOREDOM IS THEIR GREAT ENEMY AND FEAR. WHATEVER THEY MANAGE TO GET SLIPS THROUGH THEIR HANDS AS FAST AS IT COMES IN. YOU, ON THE OTHER HAND, WANT TO OUTLAST YOUR RIVALS. YOU ARE BUILDING THE FOUNDATION FOR SOMETHING THAT CAN CONTINUE TO EXPAND. TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN, YOU WILL HAVE TO SERVE AN APPRENTICESHIP. YOU MUST LEARN EARLY ON TO ENDURE THE HOURS OF PRACTICE AND DRUDGERY, KNOWING THAT IN THE END ALL OF THAT TIME WILL TRANSLATE INTO A HIGHER PLEASURE—MASTERY OF A CRAFT AND OF YOURSELF. YOUR GOAL IS TO REACH THE ULTIMATE SKILL LEVEL—AN INTUITIVE FEEL FOR WHAT MUST COME NEXT.”

Accustom yourself to the grinding pace:

Mastery takes time and it requires a lot of patience. It is not easy to become a master overnight or in a couple of months. It takes years to become a true master in our field whether it is education, sports, music, science, or every field we choose, we would go through years of practice and hard work, and in the end, new paths would open to us that would be invisible to others due to our consistency and years of struggle. We would reach a stage, we would feel bored and exhausted. That stage is the time of learning and exploring, and as we get through it, things improve on their own. We get used to the tough routines, daily practice, and work with each passing day. We need to accept that it is a gradual process, and it will take time, and we don’t have to give up.

“To resist this temptation, Curtis decided he would force himself in the opposite direction. He treated hustling as a job. He showed up on the street corner at the same hour every day, working from dawn to dusk. Gradually he accustomed himself to this slow pace. During the long hours with nothing to do, he would contemplate the future and come up with detailed plans of what he would accomplish year by year—ending with his eventual escape from street hustling. He would move into music, and then into business. To take the first step, he would have to save his money. The thought of this goal helped him endure the daily tedium of the job. In these slow hours, he also devised new hustling schemes, with the idea of continually improving himself at this job.”

“This taught him invaluable lessons—he could get whatever he wanted through sheer persistence rather than by violence or force; progressing step-by-step was the only way to succeed in anything.”

Use spare time wisely:

Masters use their downtime wisely to get the most out of it. It is a competitive world, to get ahead in our fields we just do not have to work during working hours, but also have to be careful about our spare time since spare time plays an important role in our life. Using the spare time that others use for gossip and fun can help us get ahead in our careers.

“These business types came at him from all directions with endorsement deals that would make him some fast millions. They assumed he was like all the other rappers who grabbed at such opportunities. But endorsement deals would not help him build anything solid or real. It was illusion money. He would turn them down, opting to start his own businesses on his own terms—each business building on the other like links on a chain. The goal this time was simple—to forge an empire that would last. And as before, he would get there through his own grinding persistence.”

Stay on one thing:

Productive level drops when we jump from one thing to the other. Human beings tend to get bored with what they do regularly due to the familiarity, and they tend to follow another career leaving the previous in the middle, and it continues this way__shifting from one thing to the other. To become a master, we should stick to one thing and get used to its boredom and seek new paths in our careers. When we get bored, it is because we are not true masters now. When we become true masters, we don’t get bored, but we feel excited when we explore new things in our fields that are invisible to others.

“They teach themselves to be patient and to practice something. They have learned from early on, through their jobs or through hustling, to endure the long, boring stretches of time that are necessary to master a process. They do not whine or seek to escape this reality, but instead see it as a means to freedom.”

Distractions and discipline:

Overcoming distractions is the hardest thing to do since we get bored and want some recreational time. We succumb to watching movies, playing games, capturing videos, and binge on partying with friends. When we come back, we do not feel up to work, and the discipline that we have maintained for months just gets destroyed in a week. We need to start from zero again. Discipline is curial in mastery, a poor discipline lags us behind in life. Masters maintain discipline, and they do not compromise on it. They are not easily distracted, and they know the consequences of distractions. For mastery, discipline is the key, and when we get used to it, we just follow it automatically. Learn to say NO to parties and friends who compel you to do things that you do not want, but you do it for their happiness, and later you get suffered for it.

“If we happen to lose our job or want something else, we suddenly have to confront the fact that we do not have the requisite patience to make the proper change. Before it is too late we must wake up and realize that real power and success can come only through mastering a process, which in turn depends on a foundation of discipline that we are constantly keeping sharp.

“Once we reach a certain level of mastery, we see there are higher levels and challenges. If we are disciplined and patient, we proceed. At each higher level, new pleasures and insights await us—ones not even suspected when we started out. We can take this as far as we want—in any human activity there is always a higher level to which we can aspire.”

Progress through trial and error:

Masters are willing to go through trial and error. To become a true master, you need to put your work to people’s scrutiny and criticism and learn from them. You don’t have to give up when you face hard times, rather take it as an opportunity for learning and grooming. The more mistakes you make, the more you explore and learn. Trial and error are important for learning, without setbacks and failures life are incomplete. All the great personalities went through trial and error; they did not jump from one thing to the other; they did not give up; they stand out from the rest due to their sheer commitment and consistency. Failures make them strong and undefeatable.

“You expose yourself and your work to public scrutiny. Your failures are embedded in your nervous system; you do not want to repeat them. Your successes are tied to immediate experience and teach you more. You come to respect the process in a deep way because you see and feel the progress you can make through practice and steady labor. Taken far enough, you gain a fingertip feel for what needs to be done because your knowledge is tied to something physical and visceral. And having such intuition is the ultimate point of mastery.”

Chapter 9

Push Beyond Your Limits—Self-Belief

Self-belief is important for success in life. If you believe, you are destined for little things in life, your morale will be down, and you will end up in the lowest place. On the other hand, if you are confident and bold enough to achieve great things and see a bright future for yourself, you will end up in the best place. How we see ourselves affects us, and we become exactly how we imagined ourselves. It is better to dream big, and follow a certain direction, not get scared of hindrances, but rather take them as opportunities for growth and learning.

“YOUR SENSE OF WHO YOU ARE WILL DETERMINE YOUR ACTIONS AND WHAT YOU END UP GETTING IN LIFE. IF YOU SEE YOUR REACH AS LIMITED, THAT YOU ARE MOSTLY HELPLESS IN THE FACE OF SO MANY DIFFICULTIES, THAT IT IS BEST TO KEEP YOUR AMBITIONS LOW, THEN YOU WILL RECEIVE THE LITTLE THAT YOU EXPECT. KNOWING THIS DYNAMIC, YOU MUST TRAIN YOURSELF FOR THE OPPOSITE—ASK FOR MORE, AIM HIGH, AND BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE DESTINED FOR SOMETHING GREAT. YOUR SENSE OF SELF-WORTH COMES FROM YOU ALONE—NEVER THE OPINION OF OTHERS. WITH A RISING CONFIDENCE IN YOUR ABILITIES, YOU WILL TAKE RISKS THAT WILL INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF SUCCESS. PEOPLE FOLLOW THOSE WHO KNOW WHERE THEY ARE GOING, SO CULTIVATE AN AIR OF CERTAINTY AND BOLDNESS.”

Kill your doubts:

Doubts make us weak, crippled, and useless while we have the ability to achieve great things in life, but doubts creep in, and we don’t even try. You should remove doubts from your heart if you are after something big, the best way to deal with doubts is to start from something simple and achieve it, and then go after something that is more difficult than our previous challenge. Going step by step makes us confident and energetic, and our doubts about ourselves diminish our time. Our spirits go up, our morale increases, and our self-belief strengthens.

“YOUR OPINION OF YOURSELF BECOMES YOUR REALITY. IF YOU HAVE ALL THESE DOUBTS, THEN NO ONE WILL BELIEVE IN YOU AND EVERYTHING WILL GO WRONG. IF YOU THINK THE OPPOSITE, THE OPPOSITE WILL HAPPEN. IT’S THAT SIMPLE.”

“Feeling less confined by doubts, you give freer rein to your individuality, which makes everything you do more effective. This movement towards confidence has a self-fulfilling quality that is impossible to deny.”

Be a mystery to yourself:

When you were born, you were a unique being. Your personality was molded and shaped by your parents, relatives, friends, and teachers. You began to live your life according to their rules, you began to see yourself in their mirror, and you lost your uniqueness. We face people in life who try to fit us into their group and restrict our ideas and thoughts to their conventional wisdom. When we let them distort our self-belief about ourselves, we lose our identity and charm. You should not let people change your self-belief about yourselves, once your opinion about yourselves change, and you see yourself through the lens of others, you appear ordinary and common. Always maintain the mystery, and keep your morale high to achieve more and attract more.

“Many of these criticisms and opinions are not objective at all. People want to see certain qualities in you. They project onto you their own fears and fantasies. They want you to fit a conventional pattern; it is frustrating and often frightening for people to think they cannot figure someone out. Behavior that is considered abnormal or different, which may very well be coming from somewhere deep within you, is actively discouraged. Envy plays a role as well—if you are too good at something, you might be made to feel strange or undesirable.”

Untying yourself from the opinions of others:

People will restrict your movements and will try to drag you into their ideas and way of life by praising or ridiculing you. You should untie yourself from people’s diverse opinions intended to change your self-belief about yourself to lower your confidence and destroy your spirits and energy. You should be open to feedback and criticism and public scrutiny of your work to know what areas need improvement and what you are good at, but you should not take it seriously, rather take it for learning and grooming.

“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. There is another, fearless way of approaching your life. It begins by untying yourself from the opinions of others. This is not as easy as it sounds. You are breaking a lifelong habit of continually referring to other people when measuring your value. You must experiment and feel the sensation of not concerning yourself with what others think or expect of you.”

“If you are dependent on their judgments for your sense of worth, then your ego will always be weak and fragile.”

Maintaining a sense of purpose:

People will not respect you when your self-belief is too low, and they will push you here and there. Once they know you are after something outstanding, and you are daring enough to reach that target, they will not push you, but rather get jealous of you, and will try to block your way. Your self-belief defines you; it attracts people towards you; you appear bigger than life. All the great people in history started from nothing, they went through storms, they faced enemies, and they got what they wanted due to their strong self-belief about themselves. People will support you when they feel you have the ability to lead them, but if your self-belief is weak, they will push you.

“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. You are continually prone to believe these opinions, particularly if your self-image is fragile. In every moment of life you can defy and deny people this power. You do so by maintaining a sense of purpose, a high destiny you are fulfilling. From such a position, people’s attacks do not harm you; they only make you angry and more determined. The higher you raise this self-image, the fewer judgments and manipulations you will tolerate. This will translate into fewer obstacles in your path. If someone like Douglass could forge this attitude amid the most unfree of circumstances, then we should surely be able to find our own way to such inner strength.”

Have your own independent wishing:

People will try to drag you into their fantasies, and you will succumb to their words and opinions if your self-belief is weak. Once you are added to their group, you are one of them, and their qualities rub off on you; you lose your uniqueness and charm. To maintain a strong self-belief, you should have an independent wish, your own path, your own dreams, and goals that you believe are achievable no matter what others say to you.

“ONE’S OWN FREE, UNTRAMMELED DESIRES, ONE’S OWN WHIM…ALL OF THIS IS PRECISELY THAT WHICH FITS NO CLASSIFICATION, AND WHICH IS CONSTANTLY KNOCKING ALL SYSTEMS AND THEORIES TO HELL. AND WHERE DID OUR SAGES GET THE IDEA THAT MAN MUST HAVE NORMAL, VIRTUOUS DESIRES? WHAT MAN NEEDS IS ONLY HIS OWN INDEPENDENT WISHING, WHATEVER THAT INDEPENDENCE MAY COST AND WHEREVER IT MAY LEAD.”

 —Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“The story of Jeanne d’Arc demonstrates a simple principle: the higher your self-belief, the more your power to transform reality. Having supreme confidence makes you fearless and persistent, allowing you to overcome obstacles that stop most people in their tracks.”

Chapter 10

Confront Your Mortality—the Sublime

As long as we do not accept our mortality, we think that we have much time on earth, and we will get what we want in life when we want. We forget that time passes quickly; we forget that we have limited time on earth. As early as we accept our mortality, we accept life and its unpredictability, and we see life through a clear lens. We strive to achieve more, we stick to our routines, and we use our time wisely. Accepting mortality frees us from the fear of death, we tend to live in the present and are prepared for the future while learning from past experiences. Life is short, we can die any moment, and we should be prepared for what comes our way, and it is only possible when we accept our mortality.

“IN THE FACE OF OUR INEVITABLE MORTALITY WE CAN DO ONE OF TWO THINGS. WE CAN ATTEMPT TO AVOID THE THOUGHT AT ALL COSTS, CLINGING TO THE ILLUSION THAT WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD. OR WE CAN CONFRONT THIS REALITY, ACCEPT AND EVEN EMBRACE IT, CONVERTING OUR CONSCIOUSNESS OF DEATH INTO SOMETHING POSITIVE AND ACTIVE. IN ADOPTING SUCH A FEARLESS PHILOSOPHY, WE GAIN A SENSE OF PROPORTION, BECOME ABLE TO SEPARATE WHAT IS PETTY FROM WHAT IS TRULY IMPORTANT. KNOWING OUR DAYS TO BE NUMBERED, WE HAVE A SENSE OF URGENCY AND MISSION. WE CAN APPRECIATE LIFE ALL THE MORE FOR ITS IMPERMANENCE. IF WE CAN OVERCOME THE FEAR OF DEATH, THEN THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR.”

Kills fear of death:

As long as you deny death, it haunts you and chases you. The only way to expel the fear of death from your heart and mind is to accept the fact that I have limited time on earth, and I have to get the most out of each second. The thought of death scares us, and it cripples us and makes us weak in the face of tragedies and our enemies since we are in denial that we will live longer; we will not catch diseases; we will stay forever healthy and young, while we are drowned in our own fantasies, death has arrived, and we have no option, but to leave the world leaving nothing precious behind. Accepting mortality frees us from the pain inflicted upon us by death, we become cautious and concerned about our future, and we live each second wisely.

“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.”

Attaining goals:

When we accept our mortality, we develop a sense of urgency and struggle to accomplish our goals. We get lazier and clumsy when we think that we have unlimited time, and we can postpone today’s work to tomorrow. We do delay our work because we do not accept death, and we lag behind in life. Accepting mortality gives us a direction to follow that leads to prosperity and happiness and fills our days with joys and blessings.

“If attaining certain goals becomes your greatest source of pleasure, then your days are filled with purpose and direction, and whenever death comes, you have no regrets.”

Makes you strong and self-reliant:

The greatest fear everyone has is the fear of death, and when you embrace death wholeheartedly and are prepared for it anytime, you become strong and self-reliant, and no force on earth can scare you. When we become strong emotionally, we become the center of attention, and people look up to us since we look calm in hard times and are able to overcome problems.

“You will be strong and self-reliant, unafraid to be alone. You will have a certain lightness that comes with knowing what matters—you can laugh at what others take so seriously. The pleasures of the moment are heightened because you know their impermanence and you make the most of them. And when your time to die comes, as it will some day, you will not cringe and cry for more time, because you have lived well and have no regrets.”

Expose yourself to new dangers:

Exposing yourself to things you are scared of makes you strong mentally and reminds you of your mortality. Once you face hard things, your fear of death flies into thin air, and you emerge stronger. Face what you are afraid of, and you will become less afraid of things. When you are not scared of death, you will live a life devoted to your goals, and when death arrives, you have no regrets since you have already achieved what you were after. You feel proud to have lived a meaningful life.

“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, occasionally farther. Locked in banal time, we tend to distort events—we 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. The sublime variety is an intimation of the reality of the utter vastness of time and the constant changes that are going on. It requires that we lift our heads out of the moment and engage in the kinds of meditations that obsessed Kenkō. We imagine the future centuries from now or what was happening in this very spot millions of years ago. We become aware that everything is in a state of flux; nothing is permanent. “

The sense of awe:

When we accept our mortality, we live in the present and feel the beauty of life that helps us accept reality. Fantasies waste our time when we cannot change our fantasies into reality, we live in fantasies since we think we have limitless time on earth. When we accept our mortality, we observe our surroundings keenly. When we are in the present, we are less depressed and anxious about our future since we are prepared for it.

“This sense of awe can be elicited by something vast or strange— endless landscapes (the sea or the desert), monuments from the distant past (the pyramids of Egypt), the unfamiliar customs of people in a foreign land. It can also be sparked by things in everyday life—for instance, focusing on the dizzying variety of animal and plant life around us that took millions of years to evolve into its present form.”

Quotes:

“Fear is the oldest and strongest emotion known to man, something deeply
inscribed in our nervous system and subconscious.”

“An animal that cannot let go of its fears once the threat is gone will find it hard to eat and sleep. We are the animal that cannot get rid of its fears and when so many of them lay inside
of us, these fears tend to color how we view the world.”

“let me assert my firm belief that the only thing
we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror,
which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

“If you view everything through the lens of fear, then you tend to stay in retreat mode.”

“If we go the opposite direction, cultivating a fearless approach to life, attacking everything with boldness and energy, then we will create a much different dynamic.”

“There are two ways of dealing with fear—one passive, the other active.”

“Understand: no one is born this way. It is unnatural to not feel fear. It is a process that requires challenges and tests. What separates those who go under and those who rise above adversity is the strength of their will and their hunger for power.”

“slavery was a system that depended on the creation of deep levels of fear.”

“THIS PAST, THE NEGRO’S PAST, OF ROPE, FIRE, TORTURE…DEATH AND HUMILIATION; FEAR BY DAY AND NIGHT, FEAR AS DEEP AS THE MARROW OF THE BONE…THIS PAST, THIS ENDLESS STRUGGLE TO ACHIEVE AND CONFIRM A HUMAN IDENTITY…YET CONTAINS, FOR ALL ITS HORROR, SOMETHING VERY BEAUTIFUL…. PEOPLE WHO CANNOT SUFFER CAN NEVER GROW UP, CAN NEVER DISCOVER WHO THEY ARE….” —James Baldwin

“One of the greatest fears that any child has is that of being abandoned, left alone in a terrifying world.”

“This meant that he would have to place himself again and again in the situations that stimulated anxiety. The first time he faced someone with a gun, he was frightened. The second time, less so. The third time, it meant nothing.”

“He quickly learned the value of boldness, how he could push others on their heels by feeling supreme confidence in himself.”

“We are living through strange, revolutionary times. The old order is crumbling before our eyes on so many levels. And yet in such an unruly moment, our leaders in business and politics cling to the past and the old ways of doing things. They are afraid of change and any kind of disorder.”

“They find that the chaos of the times suits their temperament.”

“THE GREATEST FEAR PEOPLE HAVE IS THAT OF BEING THEMSELVES. THEY WANT TO BE 50 CENT 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 YOU DIFFERENT. I LOST THAT FEAR. AND ONCE I FELT THE POWER THAT I HAD BY SHOWING THE WORLD I DIDN’T CARE ABOUT BEING LIKE OTHER PEOPLE, I COULD NEVER GO BACK.”

“Good things come our way, followed by bad things.”

“The 50th Law, however, states that there is one thing we can actually control—the mind-set with which we respond to these events around us. And if we are able to overcome our anxieties and forge a fearless attitude towards life, something strange and remarkable can occur—that margin of control over circumstance increases.”

“A bold act requires a high degree of confidence.”

“Having a brush with death, or being reminded in a dramatic way of the shortness of our lives, can have a positive, therapeutic effect. Our days are numbered and so it is best to make every moment count, to have a sense of urgency about life. It could end at any moment.”

“Trying so hard to please people can actually end up pushing them away—it is hard to respect someone who has such an ingratiating attitude.”

“This means entering the very arenas you normally shy away from: making the very hard decisions you have been avoiding, confronting the people who are playing power games with you, thinking of yourself and what you need instead of pleasing others, making yourself change the direction of your life even though such change is the very thing you dread.”

“IN MY VIEW…IT IS BETTER TO BE IMPETUOUS THAN CAUTIOUS, BECAUSE FORTUNE IS A WOMAN, AND IF YOU WISH TO DOMINATE HER YOU MUST BEAT HER AND BATTER HER. IT IS CLEAR THAT SHE WILL LET HERSELF BE WON BY MEN WHO ARE IMPETUOUS RATHER THAN BY THOSE WHO STEP CAUTIOUSLY.”

“REALITY CAN BE RATHER HARSH. YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED. IT TAKES CONSTANT EFFORT TO CARVE A PLACE FOR YOURSELF IN THIS RUTHLESSLY COMPETITIVE WORLD AND HOLD ON TO IT. PEOPLE CAN BE TREACHEROUS. THEY BRING ENDLESS BATTLES INTO YOUR LIFE. YOUR TASK IS TO RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO WISH IT WERE ALL DIFFERENT; INSTEAD YOU MUST FEARLESSLY ACCEPT THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, EVEN EMBRACE THEM. BY FOCUSING YOUR ATTENTION ON WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND YOU, YOU WILL GAIN A SHARP APPRECIATION FOR WHAT MAKES SOME PEOPLE ADVANCE AND OTHER FALL BEHIND. BY SEEING THROUGH PEOPLE’S MANIPULATIONS, YOU CAN TURN THEM AROUND. THE FIRMER YOUR GRASP ON REALITY, THE MORE POWER YOU WILL HAVE TO ALTER IT FOR YOUR PURPOSES.”

“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 THEM AS THEY ARE; AND IF WE WANT TO CHANGE THEM, WE MUST DEAL WITH THEM IN THE FORM IN WHICH THEY EXIST.”

“REALITY IS MY DRUG. THE MORE I HAVE OF IT, THE MORE POWER I GET AND THE HIGHER I FEEL.”

“Truth’s words apply to you as much as to Fifty: the greatest danger you face is your mind growing soft and your eye getting dull. When things get tough and you grow tired of the grind, your mind tends to drift into fantasies; you wish things were a certain way, and slowly, subtly, you turn inward to your thoughts and desires. If things are going well, you become complacent, imagining that what you have now will continue forever.”

“Reality has its own power—you can turn your back on it, but it will find you in the end, and your inability to cope with it will be your ruin.”

“Think of reality in the following terms: the people around you are generally mysterious. You are never quite sure about their intentions. They present an appearance that is often deceptive—their manipulative actions don’t match their lofty words or promises.”

“People can be full of book knowledge and crammed with information but have no real sense of what’s going on around them. It is in fact a function of character and fearlessness. Simply put, realists are not afraid to look at the harsh circumstances of life.”

“He judged people by results, not friendliness or political values.”

“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.”

“His 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. You had a need and hunger for knowledge, to overcome this ignorance, so you observed the world as closely as possible, absorbing large amounts of information.”

“What you need to do in life is return to that mind you possessed as a child, opening up to experience instead of closing it off.”

“Force yourself to go to events and places that are beyond your usual circle.”

“If they could end this dependency, they would have the power to reverse everything.”

“When you do not get to the root of a problem, you cannot solve it in any meaningful manner.”

“There are times that require you to act with heart and boldness, without doubts or self-distance.”

“The dreamers, those who misread the actual state of affairs and act upon their emotions, are often the source of the greatest mistakes in history—the wars that are not thought out, the disasters that are not foreseen. Realists, on the other hand, are the real inventors and innovators.”

“The real poetry and beauty in life comes from an intense relationship with reality in all its aspects. Realism is in fact the ideal we must aspire to, the highest point of human rationality.”

“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 LEARNING THE WAY THE ROOTS OF A TREE SOAK UP WATER.”

“WHEN YOU WORK FOR OTHERS, YOU ARE AT THEIR MERCY. THEY OWN YOUR WORK; THEY OWN YOU. YOUR CREATIVE SPIRIT IS SQUASHED. WHAT KEEPS YOU IN SUCH POSITIONS IS A FEAR OF HAVING TO SINK OR SWIM ON YOUR OWN. 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 TO LOSE-YOU ARE MORE MOTIVATED, MORE CREATIVE, MORE ALIVE. THE ULTIMATE POWER IN LIFE IS TO BE COMPLETELY SELF-RELIANT, COMPLETELY YOURSELF.”

“HUMAN NATURE IS SO CONSTITUTED, THAT IT CANNOT HONOR A HELPLESS MAN, ALTHOUGH IT CAN PITY HIM; AND EVEN THIS IT CANNOT DO LONG, IF THE SIGNS SIGNS OF POWER DO NOT ARISE. “

—Frederick Douglass

“The only way to survive was to admit you were on your own, learn to make your own decisions, and trust your judgment. Do not ask for what you need but take it. Depend only on your wits.”

“I WAS BORN ALONE AND I WILL DIE ALONE. I’VE GOT TO DO WHAT’S RIGHT FOR ME AND NOT LIVE MY LIFE THE WAY ANYBODY ELSE WANTS IT.”

“Without realizing it you squander your independence, everything that makes you a creative individual.”

“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.”

“Individuals everywhere want more control over their destiny and have much less respect for an authority that is not based on merit but on mere power. We have all naturally come to question why someone should rule over us, why our source of information should depend on the mainstream media, and on and on. We do not accept what we accepted in the past.”

“Everyone in the world is governed by self-interest. People naturally think first of themselves and their agendas. An occasional affectionate or helpful gesture from people you know tends to cloud this reality and make you expect more of this support—until you are disappointed, again and again.”

“He was afraid only of losing his dignity and sense of ownership.”

“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 you enter that you cannot ever leave. You continually look outward for help and this severely limits your options and maneuverability. When the time comes, as it inevitably does, when you must make an important decision, you have nothing inside of yourself to depend on.”

“I AM OWNER OF MY MIGHT, AND I AM SO WHEN I KNOW MYSELF AS UNIQUE.”

 —Max Stirner

“We will often package this as the opposite—that by working for others, being dutiful, fitting in, or subsuming our personality to the group, we are being a good person. But that is our fear speaking and deluding us. If we give in to this fear, then we will spend our lives looking outward for salvation and never find it. We will merely move from one dependency to another.”

 “We forget the essential truth that all humans are governed by self-interest. Our bosses keep us around out of need, not affection.”

“Your life must be a progression towards ownership—first mentally of your independence, and then physically of your work, owning what you produce.”

“Time is the critical factor in our lives, our most precious resource. The problem when we work for others is that so much of this becomes dead time that we want to pass as quickly as possible, time that is not our own.”

“Remember: your bosses prefer to keep you in dependent positions. It is in their interest that you do not become self-reliant, and so they will tend to hoard information. You must secretly work against this and seize this information for yourself.”

“If you form partnerships with them or depend upon them for your advancement and protection, you are asking for trouble.”

“You must remember that when people give you things or do you favors it is always with strings attached. They want something from you in return —assistance, unquestioned loyalty, and so forth. You want to keep yourself free of as many of these obligations as possible, so get in the habit of taking what you need for yourself instead of expecting others to give it to you.”

“Understand: you are one of a kind. Your character traits are a kind of chemical mix that will never be repeated in history. 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.”

“We might think of people who are independent and used to being alone as reclusive, prickly, and hard to be around. In our culture we tend to elevate those who are smooth talkers, seem more gregarious, and fit in better, conforming to certain norms. They smile and seem happier. This is a superficial appraisal of character; if we reverse our perspective and look at this from the fearless point of view we come to the opposite conclusion.”

“People who are self-sufficient are generally types who are more comfortable with themselves. They do not look for things that they need from other people. Paradoxically this makes them more attractive and seductive.”

“The needy, clingy types—often the most sociable—unconsciously push us away.”

“Those who are self-reliant turn to people out of strength—a desire for pleasant company or an exchange of ideas.”

“Things that come easy and fast will leave you just as fast.”

“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 DO KNOW UNTIL HE HAS TRIED.”

 —Ralph Waldo Emerson

“EVERY NEGATIVE SITUATION CONTAINS THE POSSIBILITY FOR SOMETHING POSITIVE, AN OPPORTUNITY. IT IS HOW YOU LOOK AT IT THAT MATTERS. YOUR LACK OF RESOURCES CAN BE AN ADVANTAGE, FORCING YOU TO BE MORE INVENTIVE WITH THE LITTLE THAT YOU HAVE. LOSING A BATTLE CAN ALLOW YOU TO FRAME YOURSELF AS THE SYMPATHETIC UNDERDOG. DO NOT LET FEARS MAKE YOU WAIT FOR A BETTER MOMENT OR BECOME CONSERVATIVE. IF THERE ARE CIRCUMSTANCES YOU CANNOT CONTROL, MAKE THE BEST OF THEM. IT IS THE ULTIMATE ALCHEMY TO TRANSFORM ALL SUCH NEGATIVES INTO ADVANTAGES AND POWER.”

“EVERY NEGATIVE IS A POSITIVE. THE BAD THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO ME, I SOMEHOW MAKE THEM GOOD. THAT MEANS YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING TO HURT ME.”

“Things merely happen to you. It is your mind that chooses to interpret them as negative or positive.”

“Understand: we live in a society of relative prosperity, but in many ways this turns out to be a detriment to our spirit. We come to feel that we naturally deserve good things, that we have certain privileges due to us. When setbacks occur, it is almost a personal affront or punishment. “How could this have happened?” we ask. We either blame other people or we blame ourselves. In both cases, we lose valuable time and become unnecessarily emotional.”

“I must make 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.”

“You must adopt an attitude that is the opposite to how most people think and operate. When things are going well, that is precisely when you must be concerned and vigilant.”

“According to conventional wisdom, an opportunity is something that exists out there in the world; if it comes our way and we seize it, it brings us money and power.”

“The truth is that for the human mind, everything that crosses its path can be a potential tool for power and expansion. Many of us have had the following experience: we find ourselves in an urgent, difficult situation.”

“This attitude is what we shall call “opportunism.” True opportunists do not require urgent, stressful circumstances to become alert and inventive. They operate this way on a daily basis.”

“An opportunist in life sees all hindrances as instruments for power.”

“Most people wait too long to go into action, generally out of fear. They want more money or better circumstances. You must go the opposite direction and move before you think you are ready.”

“With energy and high morale, a human can overcome almost any obstacle and create opportunity out of nothing.”

“WITHOUT DOUBT, PRINCES BECOME GREAT WHEN THEY OVERCOME DIFFICULTIES AND HURDLES PUT IN THEIR PATH. WHEN FORTUNE WANTS TO ADVANCE A NEW PRINCE…SHE CREATES ENEMIES FOR HIM, MAKING THEM LAUNCH CAMPAIGNS AGAINST HIM SO THAT HE IS COMPELLED TO OVERCOME THEM AND CLIMB HIGHER ON THE LADDER THAT THEY HAVE BROUGHT HIM. THEREFORE, MANY JUDGE THAT A WISE PRINCE MUST SKILLFULLY FAN SOME ENMITY WHENEVER THE OPPORTUNITY ARISES, SO THAT IN CRUSHING IT HE WILL INCREASE HIS STANDING. “

—Niccolò Machiavelli

“IN THE PRESENT THERE IS CONSTANT CHANGE AND SO MUCH WE CANNOT CONTROL. IF YOU TRY TO MICROMANAGE IT ALL, YOU LOSE EVEN GREATER CONTROL IN THE LONG RUN. THE ANSWER IS TO LET GO AND MOVE WITH THE CHAOS THAT PRESENTS ITSELF TO YOU—FROM WITHIN IT, YOU WILL FIND ENDLESS OPPORTUNITIES THAT ELUDE MOST PEOPLE. DON’T GIVE OTHERS THE CHANCE TO PIN YOU DOWN; KEEP MOVING AND CHANGING YOUR APPEARANCES TO FIT THE ENVIRONMENT. IF YOU ENCOUNTER WALLS OR BOUNDARIES, SLIP AROUND THEM. DO NOT LET ANYTHING DISRUPT YOUR FLOW.”

“THE OLD MUSICIANS STAY WHERE THEY ARE AND BECOME LIKE MUSEUM PIECES UNDER GLASS, SAFE, EASY TO UNDERSTAND, PLAYING THAT TIRED OLD SHIT OVER AND OVER AGAIN…. BEBOP WAS ABOUT CHANGE, ABOUT EVOLUTION. IT WASN’T ABOUT STANDING STILL AND BECOMING SAFE. IF ANYBODY WANTS TO KEEP CREATING THEY HAVE TO BE ABOUT CHANGE.” —Miles Davis

“Forcing people to do what we want makes them resentful—inevitably they sabotage us or assert themselves against our will.”

“In a social situation in which you want the ability to influence people, your first move is to bend to their different energies.”

“Water can adapt to whatever comes its way, moving around or over any obstacle. It wears away rock over time. This form of power does not mean you simply give in to what life brings you and drift. It means that you channel the flow of events in your direction, letting this add to the force of your actions and giving you powerful momentum.”

“Like the hustler, you must find your freedom through the fluidity of your thoughts and your constant inventiveness.”

“In the end, according to Taoism, you are stronger by having a softness that allows you to bend and adapt.”

“Most people in life are rigid and predictable; that makes them easy targets. Your fluid, unpredictable strategies will drive them insane. They cannot foresee your next move or figure you out. That is often enough to make them give way or fall apart.”

“THUS ONE’S VICTORIES IN BATTLE CANNOT BE REPEATED—THEY TAKE THEIR FORM IN RESPONSE TO INEXHAUSTIBLY CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES…. IT CAN BE LIKENED TO WATER, AS WATER VARIES ITS FLOW ACCORDING TO THE FALL OF THE LAND.” —Sun Tzu

“Understand: momentum in life comes from increased fluidity, a willingness to try more, to move in a less constricted fashion. On many levels it remains something hard to put into words, but by understanding the process, becoming more conscious of the elements involved, you can place your mind in a readied position, better able to exploit any positive movement in your life. Call this calculated momentum. For this purpose you must practice and master the following four types of flow.”

“The mind has a particular momentum itself; when it heats up and discovers something new, it tends to find other items to study and illuminate. All of the greatest innovations in history come from an openness to discovery, one idea leading to another, sometimes coming from unrelated fields.”

“Forgetting is a skill that you must develop in order to have emotional flow. If you cannot help but feel anger or disgust in the moment, make it a point to not let it remain the following day.”

“To combat this, you must learn the art of counterbalance. When you are fearful, force yourself to act in a bolder fashion than usual. When you feel inordinate hate, find some object of love or admiration that you can focus on with intensity. One strong emotion tends to cancel out the other and help you move past it.”

“When you are young you are more sensitive to these fluctuations in taste and so you generally keep up with the present. But as you get older the tendency is for you to become locked in a style that is dead, one that you associate with your youth and its excitement.”

“The only thing you really have to fear is becoming a social and cultural relic.”

“In Western culture, we tend to associate strength of character with consistency.”

“He is not strong enough to adapt; he is a prisoner of his fixed nature. What raised him above others then becomes the source of his downfall.”

“PEOPLE WISH TO BE SETTLED; ONLY AS FAR AS THEY ARE UNSETTLED IS THERE ANY HOPE FOR THEM.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

“YOU WILL ALWAYS FIND YOURSELF AMONG THE AGGRESSIVE AND THE PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE WHO SEEK TO HARM YOU IN SOME WAY. YOU MUST GET OVER ANY GENERAL FEARS YOU HAVE OF CONFRONTING PEOPLE OR YOU WILL FIND IT EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO ASSERT YOURSELF IN THE FACE OF THOSE WHO ARE MORE CUNNING AND RUTHLESS. BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE YOU MUST MASTER THE ART OF KNOWING WHEN AND HOW TO BE BAD—USING DECEPTION, MANIPULATION, AND OUTRIGHT FORCE AT THE APPROPRIATE MOMENTS. EVERYONE OPERATES WITH A FLEXIBLE MORALITY WHEN IT COMES TO THEIR SELF-INTEREST—YOU ARE SIMPLY MAKING THIS MORE CONSCIOUS AND EFFECTIVE.”

“[T]HE HUSTLER’S EVERY WAKING HOUR IS LIVED WITH BOTH THE PRACTICAL AND THE SUBCONSCIOUS KNOWLEDGE THAT IF HE EVER RELAXES, IF HE EVER SLOWS DOWN, THE OTHER HUNGRY, RESTLESS FOXES, FERRETS, WOLVES, AND VULTURES OUT THERE WITH HIM WON’T HESITATE TO MAKE HIM THEIR PREY.” —Malcolm X

“You distract people with something dramatic and emotional, and while they are not paying attention to you, you grab what you want. “

“As Fifty had learned, talent and good intentions are never enough in this world; you need to be fearless and strategic. When you face people’s indifference or outright hostility you have to get aggressive and push them out of your way by any means necessary, and not worry about some people disliking you.”

“THE WAY I LEARNED IT, THE KID IN THE SCHOOL YARD WHO DOESN’T WANT TO FIGHT ALWAYS LEAVES WITH A BLACK EYE. IF YOU INDICATE YOU’LL DO ANYTHING TO AVOID TROUBLE, THAT’S WHEN YOU GET TROUBLE.”

“Life involves constant battle and confrontation. This comes on two levels. On one level, we have desires and needs, our own interests that we wish to advance. In a highly competitive world, this means we must assert ourselves and even occasionally push people out of position to get our way. On the other level, there are always people who are more aggressive than we are. At some point they cross our path and try to block or harm us. On both levels, playing offense and defense, we have to manage people’s resistance and hostility. This has been the human drama since the beginning of history and no amount of progress will alter this dynamic. The only thing that has changed is how we handle these inevitable moments of friction in our lives.”

“If you have dreams and ambitions, you know that to realize them you have to get active, make some noise, bruise a few people in your path.”

“The fearless types in history have often had to face a lot of hostility in their lives, and in doing so they invariably discover the critical role that one’s attitude plays in thwarting people’s aggression.”

“He didn’t care if people thought he was different—he was proud of it.”

“What Wright had discovered was simple: when you submit in spirit to aggressors or to an unjust and impossible situation, you do not buy yourself any real peace.”

“This is how it is in life for everyone: people will take from you what they can. If they sense that you are the type of person who accepts and submits, they will push and push until they have established an exploitative relationship with you. Some will do this overtly; others are more slippery and passive aggressive. You must demonstrate to them that there are lines that cannot be crossed; they will pay a price for trying to push you around. This comes from your attitude—fearless and always prepared to fight.”

“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.”

“[F]OR HOW WE LIVE IS SO FAR REMOVED FROM HOW WE OUGHT TO LIVE, THAT HE WHO ABANDONS WHAT IS DONE FOR WHAT OUGHT TO BE DONE, WILL RATHER LEARN TO BRING ABOUT HIS OWN RUIN THAN HIS PRESERVATION. A MAN WHO WISHES TO MAKE A PROFESSION OF GOODNESS IN EVERYTHING MUST NECESSARILY COME TO GRIEF AMONG SO MANY WHO ARE NOT GOOD. THEREFORE IT IS NECESSARY FOR A PRINCE, WHO WISHES TO MAINTAIN HIMSELF, TO LEARN HOW NOT TO BE GOOD, AND TO USE THIS KNOWLEDGE AND NOT USE IT, ACCORDING TO THE NECESSITY OF THE CASE. “—Niccolò Machiavelli

“We are not very good at being either good or bad. When we do the manipulative acts that are necessary, it is with half a heart and some guilt. We are not sure how to operate in this way—when to play the more aggressive role, or how far to go.”

“If he became too aggressive, he would look bad on the world stage and suffer for it. If he was too good and gentle, his state could be overrun by a rival, bringing misery for his citizenry.”

“A prince or leader must first and foremost be effective in his actions and to do so he must master the art of knowing when and how to be bad.”

“If he masters the art of being bad, he uses it sparingly and he creates more peace and power for his citizens than the awkward prince who tries to be too good.”

“It is best to fight them in an indirect manner, concealing your intentions and doing what you can behind the scenes—hidden from the public—to create obstacles and sow confusion. Instead of reacting, you must give aggressors some space to go further with their attacks, getting them to expose themselves in the process and provide you plenty of juicy targets to hit.”

“These types are masters at disguise. They present themselves as weak and helpless, or highly moral and righteous, or friendly and ingratiating.”

“Catherine was a classic fearless type. She understood that with passive aggressors you must not get emotional and drawn into their endless intrigues.”

“Better to be proactive and take precautionary measures the moment you feel they are trying to get into your life.”

“Lincoln was the consummate realist—if your goal is to end an injustice, you have to aim for results, and that requires being strategic and even deceptive. To end slavery he would be willing to do almost anything.”

“In facing an unjust situation, you have two options. You can loudly proclaim your intentions to defeat the people behind it, making yourself look good and noble in the process. But in the end, this tends to polarize the public (you create one hardened enemy for every sympathizer won over to the cause), and it makes your intentions obvious.”

“In other words you must be the complete lion, as bad as can be.”

“In general, you must be less respectful of the rules that other people have established. They do not necessarily fit the times or your temperament. And there is great power to be had by being the one to initiate a new order.”

“Sometimes in life you find yourself in a negative situation that cannot be improved no matter what you do. You might find yourself working for people who are irrational. Their actions seem to serve no purpose apart from imposing their power and making you miserable.”

“In truth the only viable solution is to terminate the relationship—no arguing, no bargaining, no compromising. You leave the job (there are always others); you leave the person who is tormenting you with as much finality as possible. Resist the temptation to feel any guilt. You need to create as much distance as possible, so they cannot inveigle these emotions into you. They must become dead to you so you can go on with your life.”

“IN THE RING, OUR OPPONENTS CAN GOUGE US WITH THEIR NAILS OR BUTT US WITH THEIR HEADS AND LEAVE A BRUISE, BUT WE DON’T DENOUNCE THEM FOR IT OR GET UPSET WITH THEM OR REGARD THEM FROM THEN ON AS VIOLENT TYPES. WE JUST KEEP AN EYE ON THEM…NOT OUT OF HATRED OR SUSPICION. JUST KEEPING A FRIENDLY DISTANCE. WE NEED TO DO THAT IN OTHER AREAS. WE NEED TO EXCUSE WHAT OUR SPARRING PARTNERS DO, AND JUST KEEP OUR DISTANCE—WITHOUT SUSPICION OR HATRED.” —Marcus Aurelius

“IN ANY GROUP, THE PERSON ON TOP CONSCIOUSLY OR UNCONSCIOUSLY SETS THE TONE. 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. COMPLAINING AND HARANGUING PEOPLE TO WORK HARDER HAS A COUNTERPRODUCTIVE EFFECT. YOU MUST ADOPT THE OPPOSITE STYLE: IMBUE YOUR TROOPS WITH THE PROPER SPIRIT THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS, NOT WORDS. THEY SEE YOU WORKING HARDER THAN ANYONE, HOLDING YOURSELF TO THE HIGHEST STANDARDS, TAKING RISKS WITH CONFIDENCE, AND MAKING TOUGH DECISION. THIS INSPIRES AND BINDS THE GROUP TOGETHER. IN THESE DEMOCRATIC TIMES, YOU MUST PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH.”

“NO MAN CAN PROPERLY COMMAND AN ARMY FROM THE REAR. HE MUST BE AT THE FRONT…AT THE VERY HEAD OF THE ARMY. HE MUST BE SEEN THERE, AND THE EFFECT OF HIS MIND AND PERSONAL ENERGY MUST BE FELT BY EVERY OFFICER AND MAN PRESENT WITH IT…. “—General William T. Sherman

“WHEN I REACHED THE TOP IN BUSINESS, I ADJUSTED TO MY NEW POSITION—I BECAME BOLDER AND CRAZIER THAN BEFORE. AND I LISTENED EVEN LESS TO PEOPLE WHO TRIED TO SLOW ME DOWN.”

“Throughout history we have witnessed the following pattern: certain people stand out from the crowd because of some special skill or talent that they have. Perhaps they are masters at the political game, knowing how to charm and win the proper allies. Or maybe they have superior technical knowledge in their field. Or maybe they are the ones who initiate some bold venture that has success. In any event, these types suddenly find themselves in leadership positions, something for which their past experience and education has not prepared them.”

“Or they become excessively dictatorial, trying to control everything—another sign of weakness and insecurity.”

“Leaders who work harder than anyone else, who practice what they preach, who are not afraid to be accountable for tough decisions or to take risks, will find they have created a well of respect that will pay great dividends down the road.”

“There, everyone starts from zero. To gain respect from your peers, you must repeatedly prove yourself. People are constantly prone to doubting your abilities and your power.”

“Big words and promises mean nothing; only actions carry weight.”

“The greatest leaders in history all inevitably learned by experience the following lesson: it is much better to be feared and respected than to be loved.”

“He had a unique way of directing actors. He would say only a few, well-chosen words about what he wanted from them. Then, if they did the wrong thing on the set, he would brutally humiliate them in front of everyone. They quickly learned they had to pay attention to the few words he spoke and to his body language on the set, which would often tell more.”

“Understand: to be a leader often requires making tough choices, getting people to do things against their will. If you have chosen the soft, pleasing, compliant style of leadership, out of fear of being disliked, you will find yourself with less and less room to compel people to work harder or make sacrifices. “

“FOR IT IS A GENERAL RULE OF HUMAN NATURE THAT PEOPLE DESPISE THOSE WHO TREAT THEM WELL AND LOOK UP TO THOSE WHO MAKE NO CONCESSIONS.” —Thurydides

“He had been chosen by God to lead the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt and to the Promised Land. Although the Hebrews suffered in Egypt, they had relative security. Moses wrested them from this predictable life and set them to wander for forty years in the wilderness, where they were plagued by a lack of food, shelter, and basic comforts. They constantly doubted Moses and even came to hate him—some plotting to kill him, as the king who needed to be sacrificed. They saw him as an oppressor and madman. To aid his cause, God would perform regular miracles to show that Moses was chosen and blessed, but these miracles were quickly forgotten and the Hebrews kept resorting to their endless complaining and recalcitrance.”

“To overcome the seemingly impossible obstacles in his path, Moses resorted to a unique solution: he united the twelve constantly divided tribes around a single, simple cause—one God to worship, and the attainable goal of reaching the Promised Land.”

“At first he kept his intentions to himself, and then suddenly he announced to one and all that he would not appoint a minister to run the country—from now on that would be his task.”

“Understand: the natural dynamic of any group is to splinter into factions. People want to protect and promote their narrow interests, so they form political alliances from within.”

“More than likely you rose to the top by virtue of your boldness and desperate desire to get ahead.”

“The word “authority” comes from the Latin root autore, meaning author—a person who creates something new.”

“In the end, if people mistrust and resist your authority, you really have only yourself to blame.”

“A DISTINGUISHED COMMANDER WITHOUT BOLDNESS IS UNTHINKABLE. NO MAN WHO IS NOT…BOLD CAN PLAY SUCH A ROLE, AND THEREFORE WE CONSIDER THIS QUALITY THE FIRST PREREQUISITE OF THE GREAT MILITARY LEADER. HOW MUCH OF THIS QUALITY REMAINS BY THE TIME HE REACHES SENIOR RANK, AFTER TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE HAVE AFFECTED AND MODIFIED IT, IS ANOTHER QUESTION. THE GREATER THE EXTENT TO WHICH IT IS RETAINED, THE GREATER THE RANGE OF HIS GENIUS.” —Carl bon Clausewitz

“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, THINKING FIRST OF THE PUBLIC. YOU NEED TO KEEP YOUR FOCUS ON THEIR CHANGING NEEDS, THE TRENDS THAT ARE WASHING THROUGH THEM. BEGINNING WITH THEIR DEMAND, YOU CREATE THE APPROPRIATE SUPPLY. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF PEOPLE’S CRITICISMS—WITHOUT SUCH FEEDBACK YOUR WORK WILL BE TOO PERSONAL AND DELUSIONAL. YOU MUST MAINTAIN AS CLOSE A RELATIONSHIP TO YOUR ENVIRONMENT AS POSSIBLE, GETTING AN INSIDE “FEEL” FOR WHAT IS HAPPENING AROUND YOU. NEVER LOSE TOUCH WITH YOUR BASE.”

“I KNEW THAT THE GHETTO PEOPLE KNEW THAT I NEVER LEFT THE GHETTO IN SPIRIT, AND I NEVER LEFT IT PHYSICALLY ANY MORE THAN I HAD TO. I HAD A GHETTO INSTINCT; FOR INSTANCE, I COULD FEEL IF TENSION WAS BEYOND NORMAL IN A GHETTO AUDIENCE. AND I COULD SPEAK AND UNDERSTAND THE GHETTO’S LANGUAGE.” —Malcolm X

“Dre explained to Curtis that in his experience there are two kinds of hustlers in this world—those who stay on the outside, and those who move to the inside.”

“Drug users are no different from anyone else. They have phobias and bouts of boredom and a whole inner life. Because you remain on the outside, he told Curtis, you don’t see any of this and your hustling is purely mechanical and dead.”

“THE PUBLIC IS NEVER WRONG. WHEN PEOPLE DON’T RESPOND TO WHAT YOU DO, THEY’RE TELLING YOU SOMETHING LOUD AND CLEAR. YOU’RE JUST NOT LISTENING.”

“To connect to the environment in this way would mean having to move outside ourselves, train our eyes on people, but so often we prefer to live in our heads, amid our own thoughts and dreams. We strive to make everything in the world familiar and simple. We grow insensitive to people’s differences, to the details that make them individuals.”

“When we are confronted with people or individuals who have different values and belief systems, we feel threatened. Our first move is not to understand them but to demonize them”—that shadowy Other.

“Understand: the opposite approach is the way to power in this world. It begins with a fundamental fearlessness—you do not feel afraid or affronted by people who have different ways of thinking or acting. “

“You have a sense of urgency to stay connected to the environment and the people around you—your life depends on it.”

“When you study an individual or a group, your goal is to get inside their minds, their experiences, their way of looking at things.”

“FEW PEOPLE HAVE THE WISDOM TO PREFER THE CRITICISM THAT WOULD DO THEM GOOD, TO THE PRAISE THAT DECEIVES THEM.” —François de La Rochefoucauld

“The great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky had almost two separate parts to his career: in the first, he was a socialist who interacted mostly with other intellectuals. His novels and stories were relatively successful. But then in 1849 he was sentenced to several years of prison and hard labor in Siberia for ostensibly conspiring against the government. There, he suddenly discovered that he hadn’t known the Russian people at all. In prison he was thrown in among the dregs of society. In the small village where he did his hard labor, he finally mingled with the Russian peasantry that dominated the country. Once he was freed, all of these experiences became deeply embedded in his work, and suddenly his novels resonated far beyond intellectual circles. He understood his public, the mass of Russian people, from the inside, and his work became immensely popular.”

“We are social creatures who make things in order to communicate and connect with those around us. Your goal must be to break down the distance between you and your audience, the base of your support in life. Some of this distance is mental—it comes from your ego and the need to feel superior. Some of it is physical—the nature of your business tends to shut you off from the public with layers of bureaucracy. “

“Understand: in this day and age, to reach people you must have access to their inner lives—their frustrations, aspirations, resentments. To do so, you must crush as much distance as possible between you and your audience.”

“When people feel involved they bring their own ideas and energy to the cause.”

“Success creates distance.”

“Malcolm hated that feeling of creeping paternalism. In his mind, people can only help themselves—his role was to inspire them to action, not act in their name.”

“Communication is a power of intensity, not extensity and numbers.”

“Instead of turning inward, consider people’s coolness to your idea and their criticisms as a kind of mirror they are holding up to you.”

“But they have also spawned a peculiar preconception—that to understand anything we must study it from a distance and with a detached perspective.”

“A REALLY INTELLIGENT MAN FEELS WHAT OTHER MEN ONLY KNOW.” —Baron de Montesquieu

“THE FOOLS IN LIFE WANT THINGS FAST AND EASY-MONEY, SUCCESS, ATTENTION. BOREDOM IS THEIR GREAT ENEMY AND FEAR. WHATEVER THEY MANAGE TO GET SLIPS THROUGH THEIR HANDS AS FAST AS IT COMES IN. YOU, ON THE OTHER HAND, WANT TO OUTLAST YOUR RIVALS. YOU ARE BUILDING THE FOUNDATION FOR SOMETHING THAT CAN CONTINUE TO EXPAND. TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN, YOU WILL HAVE TO SERVE AN APPRENTICESHIP. YOU MUST LEARN EARLY ON TO ENDURE THE HOURS OF PRACTICE AND DRUDGERY, KNOWING THAT IN THE END ALL OF THAT TIME WILL TRANSLATE INTO A HIGHER PLEASURE—MASTERY OF A CRAFT AND OF YOURSELF. YOUR GOAL IS TO REACH THE ULTIMATE SKILL LEVEL—AN INTUITIVE FEEL FOR WHAT MUST COME NEXT.”

“MASTER THE INSTRUMENT, MASTER THE MUSIC, THEN FORGET ALL THAT SHIT AND PLAY.” —Charlie Parker

“This taught him invaluable lessons—he could get whatever he wanted through sheer persistence rather than by violence or force; progressing step-by-step was the only way to succeed in anything.”

“Their life would be all the more miserable for having once tasted some glory.”

“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

“The principal means of distraction are all forms of public entertainment, drugs and alcohol, and social activities.”

“Life becomes divided between what is necessary (time at work) and what is pleasurable (distractions and entertainment.”

“We are not engaged in the daily activity of the job with our full mental powers because it is not as exciting as life outside work.”

“The fearless types in history inevitably display in their lives a higher tolerance than most of us for repetitive, boring tasks.”

“ALL OF MAN’S TROUBLES COME FROM NOT KNOWING HOW TO SIT STILL, ALONE IN A ROOM.” —Blaise Pascal

“We are by nature creatures of impatience. It has always been hard for us to want something and not have the capacity to get it.”

“We come to value breadth of knowledge over depth, the power to move here or there rather than digging deeper to the source of a problem and finding out how things tick.”

“To reach the end of anything, to master a process, requires time, focus, and energy.”

“Understand: 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.”

“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.”

“The best way to overcome this once and for all is to attack this weakness head-on and build for ourselves a pattern of confidence. And this must be done by first tackling something simple and basic, giving us a taste for the power we can have.”

“Understanding the value of practice, he then worked on improving the delivery of his speeches.”

“When you take the time to master a simple process and overcome a basic insecurity, you develop certain skills that can be applied to anything. You see instantly the reward that comes from patience, practice, and discipline. You have the sense that you can tackle almost any problem in the same way. You create for yourself a pattern of confidence that will continue to rise.”

“He made a point of always dressing in the most professional manner and acting with the utmost courtesy, without appearing to bow and scrape.”

“He found out that in most cases, it was best to argue on points of narrow procedure rather than on grand concepts.”

“Understand: when you enter a group as part of a job or a career, there are all kinds of rules that govern behavior—values of good and bad, power networks that must be respected, patterns to be followed for successful action.”

“Often when you begin a project of any kind, it is from the wrong end. You tend to think first of what you want to accomplish, imagining the glory and money it will bring you if it succeeds.”

“This is the dilemma we all face: to accomplish anything worthwhile in life generally takes some time—often in blocks of years.”

“You cannot persist on two or three paths, so avoid that temptation.”

“You have a large goal, but there are steps along the way, and steps within the steps.”

“Remember: anything will give way to a sustained, persistent attack on your part.”

“NOW THERE ARE…INDIVIDUALS WHO WOULD RATHER PERISH THAN WORK WITHOUT TAKING PLEASURE IN THEIR WORK; THEY ARE CHOOSY…AND HAVE NO USE FOR AMPLE REWARDS IF THE WORK IS NOT ITSELF THE REWARD OF REWARDS…. THEY DO NOT FEAR BOREDOM AS MUCH AS WORK WITHOUT PLEASURE; INDEED, THEY NEED A LOT OF BOREDOM IF THEIR WORK IS TO SUCCEED. FOR…ALL INVENTIVE SPIRITS, BOREDOM IS THAT DISAGREEABLE “LULL” OF THE SOUL THAT PRECEDES A HAPPY VOYAGE AND CHEERFUL WINDS. “—Friedrich Nietzsche

“YOUR SENSE OF WHO YOU ARE WILL DETERMINE YOUR ACTIONS AND WHAT YOU END UP GETTING IN LIFE. IF YOU SEE YOUR REACH AS LIMITED, THAT YOU ARE MOSTLY HELPLESS IN THE FACE OF SO MANY DIFFICULTIES, THAT IT IS BEST TO KEEP YOUR AMBITIONS LOW, THEN YOU WILL RECEIVE THE LITTLE THAT YOU EXPECT. KNOWING THIS DYNAMIC, YOU MUST TRAIN YOURSELF FOR THE OPPOSITE—ASK FOR MORE, AIM HIGH, AND BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE DESTINED FOR SOMETHING GREAT. YOUR SENSE OF SELF-WORTH COMES FROM YOU ALONE—NEVER THE OPINION OF OTHERS. WITH A RISING CONFIDENCE IN YOUR ABILITIES, YOU WILL TAKE RISKS THAT WILL INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF SUCCESS. PEOPLE FOLLOW THOSE WHO KNOW WHERE THEY ARE GOING, SO CULTIVATE AN AIR OF CERTAINTY AND BOLDNESS.”

“LET ME POINT OUT TO YOU THAT FREEDOM IS NOT SOMETHING THAT ANYBODY CAN BE GIVEN; FREEDOM IS SOMETHING PEOPLE TAKE AND PEOPLE ARE AS FREE AS THE WANT TO BE.” —James Baldwin

“What had saved him in each case was the intensity of his ambition and self-belief.”

“YOUR OPINION OF YOURSELF BECOMES YOUR REALITY. IF YOU HAVE ALL THESE DOUBTS, THEN NO ONE WILL BELIEVE IN YOU AND EVERYTHING WILL GO WRONG. IF YOU THINK THE OPPOSITE, THE OPPOSITE WILL HAPPEN. IT’S THAT SIMPLE.”

“Either way, shyness is a fluid quality—it fluctuates according to the situation and the people you are around.”

“Many of these criticisms and opinions are not objective at all. People want to see certain qualities in you. They project onto you their own fears and fantasies. They want you to fit a conventional pattern; it is frustrating and often frightening for people to think they cannot figure someone out. Behavior that is considered abnormal or different, which may very well be coming from somewhere deep within you, is actively discouraged. Envy plays a role as well—if you are too good at something, you might be made to feel strange or undesirable.”

“Understand: you are in fact a mystery to yourself.”

“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.”

“There is another, fearless way of approaching your life. It begins by untying yourself from the opinions of others. This is not as easy as it sounds. You are breaking a lifelong habit of continually referring to other people when measuring your value. You must experiment and feel the sensation of not concerning yourself with what others think or expect of you.”

“People are drawn to those who act boldly, and their attention and faith in you will have the effect of heightening your confidence.”

“If you are dependent on their judgments for your sense of worth, then your ego will always be weak and fragile.”

“They tend to internalize many of these judgments and perhaps deep inside feel that they don’t deserve much of what is considered good in this world.”

“People who want power so badly must have psychological problems, or so we think. Much of this social prudery around the idea of power and ambition comes from an unconscious guilt and desire to keep other people down.”

“Frederick Douglass. He was born into the cruelest system known to man—slavery.”

“He saw himself becoming a great orator, railing against the evils of slavery.”

“He maintained his inner freedom and his sanity. He converted all of the whippings and mistreatment into a spur for him to escape to the North; it gave him more material to some day share with the world on the evils of slavery. Several years later, Douglass managed to escape to the north. There he became a leading abolitionist, eventually founding his own newspaper and always pushing against the limits people tried to impose on him.”

“ONE’S OWN FREE, UNTRAMMELED DESIRES, ONE’S OWN WHIM…ALL OF THIS IS PRECISELY THAT WHICH FITS NO CLASSIFICATION, AND WHICH IS CONSTANTLY KNOCKING ALL SYSTEMS AND THEORIES TO HELL. AND WHERE DID OUR SAGES GET THE IDEA THAT MAN MUST HAVE NORMAL, VIRTUOUS DESIRES? WHAT MAN NEEDS IS ONLY HIS OWN INDEPENDENT WISHING, WHATEVER THAT INDEPENDENCE MAY COST AND WHEREVER IT MAY LEAD.” —Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“In today’s world our idea of freedom largely revolves around the ability to satisfy certain needs and desires.”

“There is, however, a completely different concept of liberty. It is not something that people grant us as a privilege or right. It is a state of mind that we must work to attain and hold on to—with much effort. It is something active and not passive. It comes from exercising free will.”

“When we act with freedom, we ignore any pressures to conform; we step beyond our usual routines. Asserting our will and our individuality, we move on our own.”

“Free action has a momentum of its own.”

“Understand: at any moment you could kick this philosophy and its ideas into the trashcan by doing something irrational and unexpected, contrary to what you have done in the past, an act not possibly explained by your upbringing or nervous system. What prevents you from taking such action is not mommy, daddy, or society, but your own fears.”

“Your decision to alter a career path, for instance, is based on careful consideration of your strengths and deepest desires and the future you want. It comes from thinking for yourself and not accepting what others think about you.”

“What block us from moving in this direction are the pressures we feel to conform; our rigid, habitual patterns of thinking; and our self-doubts and fears. The following are five strategies to help you push past these limits.”

“If at any moment in her life she had succumbed to the pressure to be more like others, she would have lost that magic that now seemed to follow her when she went her own direction.”

“Understand: the day you were born you became engaged in a struggle that continues to this day and will determine your success or failure in life. You are an individual, with ideas and skills that make you unique. But people are constantly trying to fit you into narrow categories that make you more predictable and easier to manage. They want to see you as shy or outgoing, sensitive or tough. If you succumb to this pressure, then you may gain some social acceptance, but you will lose the unconventional parts of your character that are the source of your uniqueness and power. You must resist this process at all costs, seeing people’s neat and tidy judgments as a form of confinement. Your task is to retain or rediscover those aspects of your character that defy categorization, and to give them even greater play. Remaining unique, you will create something unique and inspire the kind of respect you would never receive from tepid conformity.”

“Understand: people judge you by appearances, the image you project through your actions, words, and style. If you do not take control of this process, then people will see and define you the way they want to, often to your detriment. “

“Animals depend on instincts and habits to survive. We as humans depend on our conscious, rational thinking, which gives us greater freedom of action, the ability to alter our behavior according to circumstance. And yet that animal part of our own nature, that compulsion to repeat the same things, tends to dominate our way of thinking.”

“In nature, no two trees are ever the same. A forest is formed in a kind of random fashion and that is its beauty.”

“What often prevent us from using the mental fluidity and freedom that we naturally possess are the physical routines in our lives. We see the same people and do the same things, and our minds follow these patterns. The solution then is to break this up. For instance, we could deliberately indulge in some random, even irrational act, perhaps doing the very opposite of what we would normally do in our day-to-day life.”

“The story of Jeanne d’Arc demonstrates a simple principle: the higher your self-belief, the more your power to transform reality. Having supreme confidence makes you fearless and persistent, allowing you to overcome obstacles that stop most people in their tracks.”

“The truth is that the greatest inventions and advances in technology or business generally come in negative periods because there is a greater necessity for creative thinking and radical solutions that break with the past.”

“For most of us, the words “ego” and “egotism” express something negative. Egotistical people have an oversize opinion of themselves. Instead of considering what is important for society, a group, or family, they think first and foremost of themselves and act upon this. Their vision is narrowed to the point of seeing everything in reference to their needs and desires. But there is another way to look at it: we all have an ego, a sense of who we are. And this ego, or self-relationship, is either strong or weak.”

“WE ARE FREE WHEN OUR ACTS PROCEED FROM OUR ENTIRE PERSONALITY, WHEN THEY EXPRESS IT, WHEN THEY EXHIBIT THAT INDEFINABLE RESEMBLANCE TO IT WHICH WE FIND OCCASIONALLY BETWEEN THE ARTIST AND HIS WORK. “—Henri Bergson

“IN THE FACE OF OUR INEVITABLE MORTALITY WE CAN DO ONE OF TWO THINGS. WE CAN ATTEMPT TO AVOID THE THOUGHT AT ALL COSTS, CLINGING TO THE ILLUSION THAT WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD. OR WE CAN CONFRONT THIS REALITY, ACCEPT AND EVEN EMBRACE IT, CONVERTING OUR CONSCIOUSNESS OF DEATH INTO SOMETHING POSITIVE AND ACTIVE. IN ADOPTING SUCH A FEARLESS PHILOSOPHY, WE GAIN A SENSE OF PROPORTION, BECOME ABLE TO SEPARATE WHAT IS PETTY FROM WHAT IS TRULY IMPORTANT. KNOWING OUR DAYS TO BE NUMBERED, WE HAVE A SENSE OF URGENCY AND MISSION. WE CAN APPRECIATE LIFE ALL THE MORE FOR ITS IMPERMANENCE. IF WE CAN OVERCOME THE FEAR OF DEATH, THEN THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR.”

“I HAD REACHED THE POINT AT WHICH I WAS NOT AFRAID TO DIE. THIS SPIRIT MADE ME A FREEMAN IN FACT, WHILE I REMAINED A SLAVE IN FORM.” —Frederick Douglass

“PEOPLE TALK ABOUT MY GETTING SHOT LIKE IT REPRESENTED SOMETHING SPECIAL. THEY ACT LIKE THEY’RE NOT FACING THE SAME THING. BUT SOME DAY EVERYBODY HAS TO FACE A BULLET WITH HIS OR HER NAME ON IT.”

“If we were to give ourselves up to these two trains of thought—the pain and the meaninglessness—we would almost be paralyzed into inaction or driven to suicide.”

“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. Depending on a belief in an afterlife or drowning yourself in the moment to avoid pain is to despise reality, which is to despise life itself.”

“If attaining certain goals becomes your greatest source of pleasure, then your days are filled with purpose and direction, and whenever death comes, you have no regrets.”

“The core of Stoicism is learning the art of how to die, which paradoxically teaches you how to live.”

“The more you contemplate your mortality, the less you fear it—it becomes a fact you no longer have to repress. By following this path, you know how to die well, and so you can now begin to teach yourself to live well.”

“THERE SEEMS TO HOVER SOMEWHERE IN THAT DARK PART OF ALL OUR LIVES…AN OBJECTLESS, TIMELESS, SPACELESS ELEMENT OF PRIMAL FEAR AND DREAD, STEMMING, PERHAPS, FROM OUR BIRTH…A FEAR AND DREAD WHICH EXERCISES AN IMPELLING INFLUENCE UPON OUR LIVES…. AND, ACCOMPANYING THIS FIRST FEAR, IS, FOR THE WANT OF A BETTER NAME, A REFLEX URGE TOWARD ECSTASY, COMPLETE SUBMISSION, AND TRUST.” —Richard Wright

“In the past, our relationship to death was much more physical and direct. We would routinely see animals killed before our eyes—for food or sacrifices.”

“To mediate this fear, religion would play a powerful and important role.”

“That we are not aware of this phenomenon is a sign of the deep repression that has taken place.”

“Understand: to keep death out, we bathe our minds in banality and routines; we create the illusion that it is not around us in any form. This gives us a momentary peace, but we lose all sense of connection to something larger, to life itself.”

“This feeling of having your soul pulled out of your body like a handkerchief is the essence of a sublime sensation.”

“Kenkō decided to take his vows and become a Buddhist monk. But instead of retiring to a monastery, he remained in the capital, Kyoto, and quietly observed life around him as the country seemed to fall apart.”

“If man were never to fade away like the dews of Adashino, never to vanish like the smoke over Toribeyama, but lingered on forever in the world, how things would lose their power to move us! The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty.”

“It is the shadow of death that makes everything poignant and meaningful to us.”

“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, occasionally farther. Locked in banal time, we tend to distort events—we 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. The sublime variety is an intimation of the reality of the utter vastness of time and the constant changes that are going on. It requires that we lift our heads out of the moment and engage in the kinds of meditations that obsessed Kenkō. We imagine the future centuries from now or what was happening in this very spot millions of years ago. We become aware that everything is in a state of flux; nothing is permanent.”

“The truth, however, is that death makes no such discriminations. It is the ultimate equalizer.”

“One organism must die so another can live. It is an endless process that we are a part of. This is what is known as an oceanic feeling—the sensation that we are not separated from the outside world but that we are part of life in all its forms.”

“Life and death are inextricably intertwined, not separate; the one cannot exist without the other.”

“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.”

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