Want an overview of The 50th Law by Robert Greene and 50 Cent? What do the authors say is the secret to overcoming your fears in life?
The 50th Law, by rapper 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) and author Robert Greene, argues that the biggest factor holding us back in life is fear. This fearfulness only holds us back from gaining power and success, but Robert Greene and 50 Cent argue that you must become fearless to truly thrive.
Read on for a brief overview of The 50th Law by Robert Greene and 50 Cent.
Robert Greene & 50 Cent: The 50th Law
In The 50th Law, Robert Greene and rapper 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) argue that the biggest factor holding us back in life is fear—of what others think of us, what we’ll lose, the future, and so on. This natural fearfulness developed to help us survive in ancient times, but in modern times, we rarely face life-threatening situations where it’s warranted. As a result, our fearfulness only holds us back from gaining power and achieving success. Robert Greene and 50 Cent argue in The 50th Law that you must become fearless to truly thrive. They illustrate this point by telling the story of Jackson’s struggles and accomplishments on his way to success and presenting the rules of fearlessness that he followed to get there.
Jackson is an American Rapper from Southside Queens, New York. He released his first major-label album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, in 2003, and in 2005, he starred in a film of the same name detailing his rise to fame. Jackson has sold over 30 million albums and received numerous awards, including a Grammy and multiple Billboard Music Awards. He’s also branched out into numerous other industries, including acting, talent management, apparel, liquor, and book publishing.
Greene is a best-selling author who’s arguably best-known for The 48 Laws of Power, his guide to power dynamics and social dominance. He’s also the author of Mastery, The 33 Strategies of War, and The Art of Seduction.
The Life of Curtis Jackson
The authors write that Jackson had a difficult childhood. He was raised in Southside Queens (New York City, New York) during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic with little familial guidance and almost no opportunity for upward mobility. Hustling by dealing drugs (which we’ll refer to simply as “hustling”) was the only career that could provide Jackon with enough income to live comfortably, so he chose to pursue this path at a young age. Hustling was a dangerous lifestyle, and Jackson faced violence from other hustlers, drug addicts, and police.
To survive in these treacherous conditions, Jackson adopted what he and Greene call the “50th Law”: Instead of fearing circumstances he couldn’t control, he adopted a fearless mindset. He took advantage of opportunities, adapted when necessary, forged his own path, and followed that path fervidly and without delay.
Fearlessness Transformed Jackson From a Queens Hustler Into a Rap Star
The authors write that Jackson’s fearlessness when pursuing hustling quickly paid off. He became one of the most successful hustlers in his area, gaining respect from customers and other hustlers alike. However, Jackson soon realized that with his newfound fearlessness, he could accomplish more than being a great hustler. He decided to leave his home and hustling career to chase his dream of becoming a rapper.
Once again, despite having no connections or experience in the music industry, Jackson used his fearlessness to make his dream of becoming a rapper into reality. In a few short years, he was signed to Columbia Records and ready to release his first album. However, right before the album’s release, Jackson was shot multiple times by an assassin sent by an old hustling competitor. As a result, his record label dropped him and he was back at square one.
This didn’t stop Jackson, however. He maintained his fearlessness and used his unfortunate circumstances to change the rap world forever. Once he recovered from his injuries, he created a unique genre of rap based on his dangerous experiences that portrayed the harsh reality of life on the inner-city streets. He spread the word about his music by handing out free mixtapes on the streets of New York. Jackson soon gained the attention of Eminem and joined his and Dr. Dre’s label.
Rule #1: Gain Acute Awareness of Reality
According to Curtis Jackson and Robert Greene’s The 50th Law, to achieve fearlessness, you must become acutely aware of the reality of your circumstances, no matter how painful they are.
Many people struggle to follow this rule because they want to avoid the anxiety and fear that arises when thinking of unpleasant facts. Consequently, they avoid confronting the harsh reality of their circumstances. As a result, these people have an inaccurate or incomplete view of reality that leaves them powerless to make the changes they desire in life.
On the other hand, becoming acutely aware of the factors shaping your circumstances allows you to achieve ultimate power over them. Gaining acute awareness requires you to look at the internal and external factors that have shaped your circumstances—your mindset and fears—as well as external elements like the people around you. Once you understand how these factors are shaping your reality, you can identify opportunities to manipulate them and change your future.
Rule #2: Be Self-Sufficient
Curtis Jackson and Robert Greene’s The 50th Law argues that fearlessness involves being self-sufficient. This means surviving and thriving completely on your own without relying on others to provide you with comfort or support, whether financially, emotionally, or physically.
Many people struggle to follow this rule because we’re raised to be dependent on others from childhood. We’re dependent on our parents for everything while growing up, on bosses for employment and financial stability, and on friends for mental and emotional support. However, this reliance gives others power over you and takes away your autonomy. This limits your power to grow, succeed, and change your circumstances—you can’t reach your full potential if you’re relying on others to provide for you.
(Shortform note: While Curtis Jackson and Robert Greene argue in The 50th Law that you should gain full self-sufficiency rather than relying on others for support, some experts argue that relying on social support systems is integral to reaching your goals and sustaining your mental health and well-being. People who rely on strong social support systems are better at coping with stress, have increased motivation to achieve their goals, and are more likely to engage in healthy and productive behaviors. On the other hand, people who don’t lean on their support system in difficult times have an increased risk of alcohol use, cardiovascular disease, depression, and suicide.)
Rule #3: Embrace Change and Maintain Forward Motion
Third, Curtis Jackson and Robert Greene claim in The 50th Law that to achieve fearlessness, maintain forward motion by being open to change and learning new things. When moving toward a goal, unexpected situations will always arise. The only way to overcome these situations and maintain forward motion is to learn, adapt, and stay committed to your goal. If you resist change, try to accomplish your goals the “quick” way, or avoid learning everything you can about your craft, you’ll only end up slowing yourself down.
Many people struggle to maintain consistent forward motion for two reasons. First, they have set beliefs about how things are supposed to be. When a situation arises that they didn’t expect, they get flustered and don’t know how to react, slowing down their progress. However, if you embrace unexpected situations and adapt to handle them, not only will you maintain your momentum toward your goal, but you’ll also add skills to your repertoire and achieve success faster than those who resist change.
Second, people struggle to maintain momentum because they want fast results and look for shortcuts that don’t exist. Jackson and Greene argue that to reach your goals and maintain your success, you must become a true expert in your discipline. There’s no fast way to do this: You must dedicate time and effort to your goals to succeed, and taking shortcuts will only sabotage you in the end.
Rule #4: Show Your Teeth When Necessary
Fourth, to be fearless, you must show your teeth—be aggressive when aggression is needed. Otherwise, people will underestimate or take advantage of you, claim Curtis Jackson and Robert Greene in The 50th Law.
Many people struggle to follow this rule because they want to be liked and accepted by others, so they’re passive and avoid confrontation. However, Jackson and Greene believe that confrontation is crucial to progressing toward any goal. If you don’t confront your competition and people who are sabotaging you, you’ll never gain power and success—there’ll always be someone or something holding you back.
(Shortform note: Greene first explored the concept of using aggression to gain power in The 48 Laws of Power. While Greene and Jackson heavily emphasize being fiercely and dramatically aggressive in The 50th Law, in 48 Laws, Greene discusses a crucial caveat to this rule: If you rely too heavily on aggression, you’ll likely end up weakening rather than strengthening your power by tiring yourself out and creating numerous enemies on all fronts. To avoid this outcome, keep your emotions (and aggression) contained while luring your enemy to attack first. You’ll reserve your energy while they deplete theirs, and you won’t create unnecessary enemies.)
Rule #5: Become an Inspiring Leader
Fifth, Curtis Jackson and Robert Greene’s The 50th Law argues that fearlessness involves becoming an inspiring leader—someone who both you and others believe in. First, believe in yourself intensely to the point where failure is not an option—you’re convinced that you’ll succeed. Doing this is crucial because you can only achieve what you think you can achieve.
Once you have this intense belief in yourself, share your dream with others and convince them to believe in you as well. This authority will grant you power and success.
Rule #6: Overcome the Fear of Death
The final rule in Curtis Jackson and Robert Greene’s The 50th Law states that the possibly most important rule of fearlessness is to overcome the fear of death. Most people struggle to follow this rule because it’s our natural instinct to fear death—this is what keeps us alive. However, when we fear death, we repress thoughts about our mortality and embrace the more desirable but unrealistic fantasy that we have infinite time—not just to live, but to accomplish our goals. This ultimately leads to inaction—when we don’t take our finite lifespan seriously, we lack the sense of urgency needed to follow the previous five rules and succeed.
To overcome the fear of death, Jackson and Greene argue that you must reach a state of transcendence—a higher level of awareness in which you accept and appreciate the universal process of life and death. You’ll learn to accept that death is a natural part of life—it’s neither good nor bad. Once you do so, you can connect to a deeper life purpose and develop a sense of urgency to achieve power and success before your time is up.
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- Rapper 50 Cent and Robert Greene's perspectives on overcoming fear
- The story of how 50 Cent overcame adversity and became successful
- The rules and principles you must follow to become fearless