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The 50th Law Book Summary – Robert Greene

What you will learn from reading The 5oth Law:

– The philosophies and mindset to build your own empire. 

– How to use the ‘social mirror’ to adapt your identity.

– How to take criticism and defy categorisation with others.

Time to Face Reality:

When you grow tired of the grind your mind slips into fantasies. You wish things were a certain way, and slowly you turn inward to your thoughts and desires. If things go well you can become complacent also. 

Reality has come to be seen as something to be avoided. Our culture has invented various fantasies for us to consume. 

You can’t stop the spread of fantasy and escapism, but you can do something about ceasing power. 

Tighten you connection to the environment, you want clarity not escape and confusion.  


Take back ownership of your life:

“Never be a minion, always be an owner”

The consequences of being dependent on people, leads to constant disappointment and needs left unmet. When you prove to yourself that you can get things on your own, you feel a sense of liberation.  You can make your enterprise a reflection of your individuality. 

Cultivate a taste for making your own decisions and owning your mistakes because what you should really value in life is ownership not money. When you take ownership you will have more ability to make different decisions and not be constricted by someone. 

In the face of so many difficulties and competition in the adult world, a part of us yearns to return to that childish position of dependence. We maintain an adult face and work to gain power for ourselves, but deep inside we secretly wish that our spouses, partners, friends or bosses could take care of us and solve our problems. 

Everyone in the world is governed by self-interest. Our bosses keep us around out of need not affection. 


Cultivate acceptance:

Mentally framing an event as a blessing in disguise makes it easier to move on. 

The truth is that life by nature is competitive and hard. No matter how much resources you have accumulated someone will be looking to take it from you. There are no adverse circumstances just life as it is. 

If negative publicity comes your way think of it as a form of negative attention that you can easily re-frame for your purposes. 

In general, obstacles force your mind to focus and find ways around them. They heighten your mental powers and should be welcomed. So, everything is an obstacle, a problem to be solved, a mountain to be climbed. 


Become assertive:

If your main goal is to be liked, this becomes a defensive shield (reflection of deep fears). What you want instead is to feel secure and strong from within. You should be willing to occasionally displease people and be comfortable in taking on those who stand against your interests.  

In your daily life you must assert yourself more than usual. You take on an aggressor instead of avoiding them or you strategise and push for something you want. You will notice that your fears have exaggerated the consequences of this behaviour. 

People will take from you what they know 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. You must demonstrate that some lines can’t be crossed. 

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

Life naturally involves conflicting interests; people have their own issues, their own agendas, and they collide with yours. The Life Lesson is – People will continually take from you; if they doubt your powers they will challenge you. 


Get close to your social environment:

Group dynamics – the natural dynamic of any group is to splinter into factions. People want to protect and promote their own narrow interests, so they form political alliances from within.

The source of your power is your sensitivity and closeness to the social environment.  

We are less patient and capable of seeing the bigger picture. To be a leader means that you are playing a role, out in front, fearlessly driving the group forward. 

You need to connect with your environment, get feedback as soon as possible. Talking to audience you get an idea for their thinking and can creatively come up with marketing schemes. To reach people you must have access to their inner lives, their frustrations, aspirations and resentments. You must give voice to people’s ideas and desires.  

You should never feel afraid of affronted by people who have different ways of thinking or acting. You should be excited by such diversity. Open up to understand what makes the others tick, to gain a feel for people’s inner lives, how they see the world.  



Bold Action = followers:

A bold act requires a high degree of confidence. People follow those who take bold action. 

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. There is great power to be had by being the one to initiate a new order. 


Look to the Social Mirror:

When we realise we are not as skilled as we had imagined we results to blaming others for not understanding it or getting in our way. Our egos become bruised and delicate. Instead of this – consider people’s coolness to your idea and their criticisms as a kind of mirror they are holding up to you. Your ego can’t protect you, you see you as others see you.  

The opinions of other people serve a similar function. You view your work from inside your mind, encrusted with all kinds of desires and fears. They see it as an object; they see it as it is.  

Use social mirror to perfect yourself. 


Use peoples criticism:

Other peoples criticisms – 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, they use labels to try limit your behaviour and place a mask on your face.  

Conforming to people’s expectations is safer and more comfortable. In essence you are afraid to be yourself and what you could become. If you do not dance or retreat with other opinions in mind. You drown out their voice that often translate into doubts inside you. When you raise your opinion of yourself, you feel more comfortable taking risk, knowing you will always be able to fall back on your feet. 

People will constantly attack you in life. One of their main weapons will be to instill in you doubts about yourself, about your worth, your abilities, your potential. They will disguise this as objective opinion where in reality it is political – to keep you down. 

You are prone to believe these opinions if you ego is fragile. If you have a bigger purpose and higher destiny then peoples attacks only make you more determined and angry. 

You must avoid seeing people’s neat and tidy judgements as a form of confinement. Your task is to retain or rediscover those aspects of your character that defy categorisation.  

Remember, if you stay the same you end up as predictable and weak. 


Hard work is the way to Mastery:

Now that we have all our survival needs cared for, we are confronted with a new found freedom. So, the mind now has a tendency to gravitate towards anxieties about the future – possible problems and dangers. Soo we have this desire that haunts us until this day to escape boredom at all costs, to distract ourselves from anxieties. 

The current day entertainments have a faster pace that the time we spend at work. Work then is experienced as something boring, slow and repetitive. If we go far enough in impulse direction we find it increasingly difficult to muster the patience to endure the hard work. 

To mastery –  you must learn the various steps and procedures involved, proceeding to higher and higher levels or proficiency. This requires discipline and tenacity – the ability to withstand repetitive activity, slowness, and the anxiety that comes with this challenge. 

The people who have discipline tend to have  a deep hunger for power and a sense of urgency. 

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