I finished reading The 50th Law just a couple of days ago and I have to say that I’m impressed.
The book is based on Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) as it follows some of his events in life, but focuses on the lessons that those events presented. The lessons presented in the book were valuable in both personal growth and in business.
I found it interesting how it changed my view on him, as I’ve never liked his music or cared about him in any way. Now I have huge respect towards the guy (as well as the brilliant author Robert Greene), just because I found the book so good.
The 50th Law is divided to 10 chapters that each explain one piece of wisdom that helped Curtis succeed in the most undesirable conditions. Chances are that they will help you too.
- See Thing for What They Are – Intense Realism
- Make Everything Your Own – Self-Reliance
- Turn Shit into Sugar – Opportunism
- Keep Moving – Calculated Momentum
- Know When to Be Bad – Aggression
- Lead from the Front – Authority
- Know Your Environment from the Inside Out – Connection
- Respect the Process – Mastery
- Push Beyond Your Limits – Self-Belief
- Confront Your Mortality – the Sublime
1. Intense Realism
People are full of shit. Basically everyone thinks that their perspective or their “version” of reality is the right one. If you keep your ears open, you’ll hear a lot of people spouting their delusions as truth.
No one is really “denying” the reality, but rather looking at the world through their own muddy glasses.
Ironically, sometimes those who know the least are the loudest – think who you listen to in your daily life.
- Your greatest danger is your mind going dull
- See people as they are, not how they should be
- Your work may not seem to be at danger at the moment, but the world is changing rapidly. If you aren’t changing with it, you have higher chance of being screwed. Look at the big picture.
- It’s not necessarily matter of knowledge, but courage to see things for what they are. In other words, not denying the harshness of the world.
- World is full of dreamers that throw their fantasies at you. You want clarity, not escape or confusion.
- Be curious like a child, hungry for knowledge
- Think about your long-term goals
- Everyone can talk a good game, but what’s important is what you do.
Becoming emotionally self-reliant was one of the most important life lessons for me. Needless to say, this chapter hit home.
- When you work for others, you are at their mercy. They own your work, they own you.
- Self-reliance comes from within: only from this position can you truly work for yourself.
- We are living an entrepreneurial revolution: in this new kind of economy, we will all be corner hustlers
- Everyone is governed by self-interest, with the exception of some. You should never rely on someone not having their own interest in mind.
- Dependency is a habit that is easy to acquire through drugs, pleasure, shitty jobs and especially through childhood + school system
- If we succumb to the comfort of next paycheck, we avoid building the skills needed for self-reliance.
- Your life must be progression towards ownership; first mentally and then physically.
- Time is our most valuable resource, spend it wisely.
- No one else wants you to be independent.
- Use your work as a resource to learn more instead of it being a means to an end: take more responsibility and projects.
- When people do you favors, there are strings attached. They want something in return – make it a habit to get what you want instead of waiting for someone else to give it to you.
- Do not be taken by the culture of “ease”. Life is fucking hard. The only way to make it is through effort and practice.
Or, “Turn shit into sugar”
- Events in life (reality) are not negative or positive, but neutral.
- By lying low after negative event in business, you make the situation worse.
- See the seemingly negative events as wake-up call for you to take action.
- Make most with what you have, even if you have just shit.
- The sure way to being average is to do the same things as most people.
- Waiting for opportunities is an extremely limited way to live – go create your opportunities.
- Negative energy (events) can be turned around to positive.
Everything in our lives is about momentum. We either have it or we don’t. When we are stagnant, doing and starting to do things will feel impossible.
When we manage to build up momentum on one daily task, such as jogging, for longer period of time, that’s what we call “forming a habit”.
- In business, keep an eye out on shift in tastes. Look for all the new movements that are emerging. Don’t look at mainstream sources, but look for the movements that get lots of resistance from the conservative “normal”.
- Traditional business will seek to cement their standing when they should be changing with the world. Record business is the perfect example of this.
- Having flow is more powerful than being in control (need to control stems from fear). Let go of the need to control. (instead of being like rock, become like water, fluid and able to adapt to anything – very zen )
- If you keep doing the same things over and over again, both you and people around you will get bored. Keep moving forward instead of staying still.
- Learn the art of counterbalance: when you are fearful, act bolder than usual.
- Reinvent yourself on steady basis.
- You can rise by being bold (In business), but when it’s time to adapt, being bold may become your downfall.
I’m not a fan when it comes to being “aggressive” in its traditional sense. The 50th Laws “aggression” means to rather be aggressively proactive than violent and mad.
- Talent and intentions are never good enough in this world: you have to be fearless and strategic
- Your aim is to become strong and secure from within – not look for it from the outside
- This inner strength doesn’t come naturally, but with experience
- Be willing to displease people when your interests contradict theirs.
- When you start being more assertive, you’ll recognize that your fears were over exaggerated.
- Get rid of guilt and fear for going what you want
- If people sense that you accept and submit, they will keep pushing and exploiting you. In other words, trying to please people will make them lose respect towards you.
- Life is a competition in almost every way, get used to it.
- Know the rules before you break them. Be less respectful towards rules that other people have established.
- Get rid of people who you have impossible dynamics with.
- Conflicting interests in life are natural – they are nothing personal. Don’t avoid or feel guilty about them.
- When it comes to being a business leader, it’s better to be (feared and) respected than to be loved. When you give in too much, people will feel less compelled to work harder and make sacrifices.
- Moses was a badass leader
- A leader has to have 4 qualities: be visionary, unifier, role model and bold
- If people don’t view you as authority, you can only blame yourself.
“Connection” in this case means the real connection that you should have with people who you do business with – in other words, customers. Instead of wondering what people might want, build a connection with them and see what their taste is like.
Curtis did this on the street when he was hustling. He gave samples out and found out what his “customers” did like and what they didn’t like.
Instead of just putting his products out there, he listened to the demand and tastes of his audience and acted accordingly.
- Often the opposite move or way to approach the situation than usual is the way to power
- Instead of demonizing those who are different, seek to understand them
- Avoid the “closed mind” and become open to all ideas
- Secret to creating work that becomes popular with people is to become close to them and understand their concerns, aspirations and frustrations.
- Any kind of group tends to close itself from the outside world and live in their own bubble. Avoid doing that.
- Create a social mirror: consider reactions that you get from others as a mirror that reflects your own actions.
- When your work doesn’t resonate in people, it’s your fault. You failed to connect with the audience.
Getting to master level at anything is hard and that’s how it’s supposed to be. Humanity today is plagued by the culture of ease, which doesn’t yield any long-term gratification. For me, getting out of that mindset was a huge leap.
- Part of becoming a “master” is boring grinding – get used to it
- treat the world as your teacher.
- Boredom is symptom of growing dependant on outside distractions
- All human activities involve a process of mastery: To be constantly learning and repeating requires discipline and persistence.
- Start by making a large goal for yourself, something that excites you deeply and learn the steps. When you get better by proceeding through the steps, you’ll start finding pleasure and seeing connections that you didn’t see before.
- Instead of focusing on ones achievements, focus on the process they went through.
- Real formula to power (as well as to mastery) is the uncomfortable truth of having to go through process that doesn’t sit well in todays short-circuit mindset. The process requires time, energy and focus.
- True mastery comes through trial and error – experimenting, failing and ultimately, learning.
- Failing works so well because you don’t want to repeat them.
- Master the simple things (basics) and work your way up.
- When in new environment, learn the rules that govern behavior in there.
- Details are what make something good to something excellent: pay attention to them as they are the essence of mastery.
- Rediscover the child-like persistence towards learning.
- Repetitive tasks are boring, but there’s a calming effect underneath.
The feeling of not being capable of anything is soul-crushing. Thankfully, our feelings that are based on misconceptions aren’t the same as reality. It’s your mind getting the best of you, instead of you getting the best of it (-> self-belief).
Self-belief is about knowing that what someone else can do, you can do as well. Sure there are feats that are possible because of unique conditions, but those are so rare that they are not worth it to think about.
- Your current identity has been shaped by the people and the environment you’ve been around so far. Your identity isn’t something that is constant and permanent, but something that you are able change.
- As a child, you had no way to resist that process, but as an adult, you can have all the tools to rediscover your individuality.
- You will have to take a risk to do something that people don’t expect from you. Something unconventional to your current character.
- Untie yourself from the opinions of others
- Conforming to people expectations is safe and comfortable, but in turn it makes you miserable and confined.
- Instead of focusing on your limits, think about what you can do differently
- When you raise your opinion of yourself instead of conforming to others, it has huge influence on everything you do.
- If you are dependant on others for your self-worth, your ego will always be weak and fragile: you need a center, a sense of balance that comes from within.
- Other peoples opinions are perfect in shaping your work, not your self-image
- Ambition is nothing to be guilty about, but something to cherish
- Normally we act out of habit, in line with the societys expectations. When we act from the state of freedom, we question the old habits and step beyond our usual routines.
- Five strategies to push past limits of your conditioning: defy all categories and labels, constantly reinvent yourself, subvert your (non-beneficial) patterns, create a sense of destiny and bet on yourself. For elaboration on these strategies, read the book.
The book makes an excellent point about the “illusion of freedom” and how the environment shapes us and I’ve given it a some thought lately.
It’s a paradox of sort: We are shaped by our environment and we have also have the power to change our shaping. In the end it’s irrelevant which one of those is true. As far as I know, they both can be – we live in a world full of different shades of grey.
The important thing is to not believe that how and what we are is completely out of our control because it can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you believe that your identity and your doings are “out of your control”, it can result into downward spiral and lack of responsibility.
From my point of view, it would be retarded not to believe that there isn’t free will. The “truth” doesn’t matter, because we can’t know for sure anyways.
The book makes a point that such philosophy essentially wants to deny our idea of freedom and that way takes the power to do something away from us.
There’s a great lesson here too: at any moment you can kick that philosophy in the trash-can by doing something entirely different – something that can’t be explained by your upbringing. You are responsible.
10. The sublime
Or, “Confront your mortality”
This chapter was one of the best in the book and very zen in its nature.
I liked it because it went so much beyond the conventional wisdom, embracing the “sublime” that is around all of us – we just miss it by focusing on the wrong things.
- Whenever Curtis felt that he had lot to lose, he ended up losing a lot more
- Always be willing to walk away
- Death represents the ultimate reality – the limit to our days on the earth
- What matters is that you live your life fully and when death comes, you have no regrets
- Falling into nihilistic view of the futility of it all is the ultimate waste for the time you’ve been granted
- Look inward and realize the fact that you carry death with you. Embrace the fact that your time is limited.
- Our focus on short-term makes minor things seem more important than they really are
- When Curtis nearly died, he realized that death can happen at any moment. Better do things that he wants to do now.
These are just various points that stood out from the book, but they can’t match up to the real value that comes from the analogies and stories presented. This is why you have to read it.