“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.”
– 50-cent and Robert Greene, The 50th Law
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Or in this case, by its author.
When I picked up the book, The 50th Law, I expected to find another quick-read self-help book. I did not expect to find it written by a rapper and a business author.
Even the cover is a little off-putting.
Without saying a word, most folks assume it’s a Bible and an old-style King James Version bible at that. That perception probably hurts its sales, but don’t let it stop you from picking it up.
I had a lot of expectations about what I would find, but I did not expect to find profoundly good advice for surviving this economy. Quoting Machiavelli, Sun Tzu and James Baldwin, the book began to teach me a few new truths.
In the first 50 pages, I’ve learned:
- “The greatest danger you face is your mind growing soft and your eye getting dull.”
In other words, our greatest danger is the problem that led us into this current economic mess: Not Paying Attention. To our job, to bad financial schemes in the market, to the changing world, to the line of work that we’re in. Whether we like it or not, the assumptions we’ve made about the world we live in will shift again and we need to not just be ready for it, but to anticipate it.
In order to do that, the authors write, you need to convert to realism: or the way of looking at the world so that you see every circumstance and every individual as different. Then account for that difference. Leave behind your preconceptions and judge people “based on results, not friendliness or political values.”
- Fight our culture’s tendency to escape reality
The authors remind us how very different the United States is today from when it started: from a people who had to face the harsh realities of their environment to a people who spend millions to escape from our problems and the harshness of life. Our tendency to let fantasy and escapism dull our edge and clarity of vision makes us ineffective.
They suggest that we need to become keen observers of what’s around us by:
a) Rediscovering our curiosity – being open to new ideas
b) Know the complete terrain – don’t just get reports from others on what’s going on, but expand your familiarity with different ideas in your field, your business or your job.
c) See further ahead – develop a long term vision and learn to view your circumstances through that vision
d) Look at people’s deeds, not their words
e) Reassess yourself frequently – Every few weeks, review your actions and decisions as if they were done by someone else, and assess their effectiveness.
If you read past the first 50 pages, 50 cent and Robert Greene will cover topics as diverse as adaptability, staying relevant in the market as you get older, and leadership. As I said, I’m still reading through the book, but you know my rule: if I have to copy more than 10 pages from a book, it’s time to buy it. When I turned from page 49 to 50, I knew I needed to buy it. Even now I’m waiting for my copy to write notes in the margins.
A while back I made the commitment to being open to life-giving ideas, regardless of the source, but I didn’t realize how much my prejudices might still be filtering out good ideas. The 50th Law was a reminder to keep my eyes open for things that hit the edge of my filters, so that I wouldn’t miss something good.
Leave me a comment or send me a tweet, my id is jgodfrey.