After reading Fearless by Max Lucado, a deeply religious book about conquering fears, I was disappointed. Surely, I thought, there must be dozens of great books on Conquering Fear, based on hard evidence and life experience, not just scriptures. Then I remembered seeing 50 Cent and Robert Greene on CNBC.
Whatever is true or false about 50 Cent's reputation, he must know a thing or two about fear. And for anyone familiar with Robert Greene (48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction etc), he certainly lent a massive amount of credibility to the research side of this book. Years ago, I devoured The 48 Laws, but I had no idea what I was in for with the 50th. It's the story of how 50 Cent (née Curtis Jackson, from Queens, New York) was forced, at a very early age, to let go of his grasp on mortality, get smarter, get strategic, and maneuver his way out of a dangerous area, and a dangerous lifestyle. He wouldn't be able to do that with his everyday fears, and everyday attitudes, so he had to let them go.
Like all Robert Greene books, I'm warning you now, about 20 pages in you may feel as if the very ghost of Macchiaveli is right beside you on the couch. With each page, 50 reveals not just his business plans, but his personal plans for escaping the vicious cycle of a drug dealing huslter. He planned everything meticulously. He used his strengths to his advantage, and his weaknesses, he turned against his enemies. He became an invisible man when he needed to, a monster when he had to, and a charmer when he could.
To his surprise, as soon as he escaped the dope game, he found a newer, more plush ghetto to escape from: being an artist with a record deal. What seemed like a dream come true was actually another corner, another production line, where the bosses made all the real money. He immediately set about his plan to expand beyond music. The first lesson of fearlessness: don't be afraid of making mistakes and taking risk, be afraid of what will happen if you are dependent on others to eat, to live, to survive. Learn, so you can own. You're either doing one or the other. When you're an owner, you have the freedom, when you're an employee, you're a servant.
But how? How is it possible to be so much craftier than those around us, those that would stop us, hurt us, steal from us, or worse? No one is perfect, we all have advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weakness. The trick is to turn your weaknesses into strengths; morph into something else, shift your strategy such that your weaknesses disappear, all the wall focusing on your opponents weakness and driving a stake through them. Whether you're a man, a woman, a company, or a country, this mode of strategic thinking can transform you: if people say you're small you can be agile and fast, if people think you're too inexperienced, you can create a name for yourself, with no legacy to slow you down. Your greatest fear is not your enemies, but your mind going soft and your perceptions dated.
Fear plays another interesting role in the eyes of the Enlightened: it turns out that our peak potential and charm is when we're playing with chance. Improvise, and let the excitement fill you. When we overanalyze, and sterilize the world around us, we're disconnected from the moment, fractured, dulled. To live a life without pain or death would be an utter bore, we should be thankful; it's the stimulation of risk that makes life enjoyable. Turning the ultimate weakness'mortality'into our most treasured jewel. Whether it's getting a beautiful woman's phone number, skydiving, or starting your own business, its the risk, its the tantilizing edge that we walk, that seems to add color and life to everything we do'the difference between life and death.
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