Your fears are a kind of prison that confines you within a limited range of action. The less you fear, the more power you will have and the more fully you will live.
What separates those who go under and those who rise about adversity is the strength of their will and their hunger for power.
There is one thing we can actually control — the min-set with which we respond to these events around us. And if we are able to overcome our anxieties and forge a fearless attitude towards life, something strange and remarkable can occur — that margin of control over circumstance increases.
A bold act can put people on their heels and eliminate obstacles. In this way, it creates its own circumstances.
The key to possessing this supreme power is to assume the active mode in dealing with your fears. This means entering the very arenas you normally shy away from: making the very hard decisions you have been avoiding, confronting the people who are playing power games with you thinking of yourself and what you need instead of pleasing others, making yourself change the direction of your life even though such change is the very thing you dread.
Your attitude has the power of shaping reality in two opposite directions — one that constricts and cornets you in with fear, the other that opens up possibilities and freedom to act.
Chapter 1. See Things for What They Are — Intense Realism
The firmer your grasp on reality, the more power you will have to alter it for your purposes.
The greatest danger you face is your mind growing soft and your eye getting dull.
Seeing people as they are, instead of what you think they should be, would mean having a greater sense of their motives.
Realists are not afraid to look at the harsh circumstances of life. They sharpen their eye by paying keen attention to details, to people’s intentions, to the dark realities hiding behind any glamorous surface.
Having clarity about where you are headed, what people are up to, and what is happening in the world around you will translate into confidence to your environment, like a spider on is web.
As an individual you cannot shop the tide of fantasy and escapism sweeping a culture. But you can stand as an individual bulwark to this trend and create power for yourself.
Force yourself to hold the opposite opinion or see the world through your enemy’s eyes. Listen to the people around you with more attentiveness. See everything as a source of education — even the most banal encounters. Imagine that the world is still full of mystery.
In general, looking at people through the lens of your emotions will cloud what you see and make you misunderstand everything. What you want is a sharp eye towards your fellow humans — one that is piercing, objective, and nonjudgmental.
The real poetry and beauty in life comes from an intense relationship with reality in all its aspects. Realism is in fact the ideal we must aspire to, the highest point of human rationality.
Chapter 2. Make Everything You Own — Self-Reliance
You goal in every maneuver in life must be ownership, working the corner for yourself. When it is yours to lose — you are more motivated, more creative, more alive. The ultimate power in life is to be completely self-reliant, completely yourself.
True ownership can come only from within. It comes from a disdain for anything or anybody that impinges upon you mobility, from a confidence in your own decision, and from the use of your time in constant pursuit of education and improvement.
You are more alone than you imagine. This should not be a source for fear but of freedom. When you prove to yourself that you can get things on your own, then you experience a sense of liberation.
It is a kind of exercise you must practice on a daily basis — weaning yourself from dependencies, listening less to others’ voices and more to your own, cultivating new skills. You will find that self-reliance becomes the habit and that anything that smacks of depending on others will horrify you.
If we succumb to the illusion and the comfort of a paycheck, we then neglect to build up self-reliant skill and merely postpone the day of reckoning when we are forced to fend ourselves.
Your life must be a progression towards ownership — first mentally of your independence, and then physically of your work, owning what you produce. Blueprint:
- RECLAIM DEAD TIME. Your bosses prefer to keep you in dependent positions. It is in their interest that you do not become self-reliant, and so they will tend to hoard information. You must secretly work against this and seize this information for yourself.
- CREATE LITTLE EMPIRES. What you really value in life is ownership, not money. A lower-paying position that offers more room to make decision and carve out little empires is infinitely preferable to something that pays well but constricts your movements.
- MOVE HIGHER UP THE FOOD CHAIN. Your goal in life must be to always move higher and higher up the food chain, where you alone control the direction of your enterprise and depend on no one. Since this is a future ideal, in the present you strive to keep yourself free of unnecessary entanglement and alliances. And if you cannot avoid having partners, make sure that you are clear as to what function they serve for you and how you will free of them at the right moment.
- MAKE YOUR ENTERPRISE A REFLECTION OF YOUR INDIVIDUALITY. You are one of a kind. You must not be afraid of your uniqueness and you must care less what people think of you.
Things that come easy and fast will leave you just as fast. The only way to gain self-reliance or any power is through great effort and practice.
Chapter 3. Turn Shit into Sugar — Opportunism
Instead of becoming discouraged and depressed by any kind of downturn, you must see this as a wake up call, a challenge that you will transform into an opportunity for power.
You must adopt an attitude that is the opposite to how most people think and operate. When things are going well, that is precisely when you must be concerned and vigilant. You know it will not last and you be caught unprepared.
True opportunists do not require urgent, stressful circumstances to become alert and inventive. They operate this way on a daily basis. The channel their aggressive energy into hunting down possibilities for expansion in the most banal and insignificant events.
When we go to work with what is there, we find new ways to employ this material. We solve problems, develop skills we can use again and again, and build up our confidence. If we become wealthy and dependent on money and technology, our minds atrophy and that wealth will not last.
Negative energy that comes at you in some form is energy that can be turned around — to defeat an opponent and lift you up. When there is no such energy, there is nothing to react or push against; it is harder to motivate yourself.
When you feel that you must work harder to get to your goal because you are not quite prepared, you are more alert and inventive. This venture has to succeed and so it will.
When you complain and rail against circumstances, you fall out of balance with the natural state of things; you wish things were different. What you must do instead is accept the fact that all events occur for reason, and that it is within your capacity to see this reason as positive.
Chapter 4. Keep Moving — Calculated Momentum.
Keep moving and changing your appearances to fit the environment. If you encounter wall or boundaries, slip around them. Do not let anything disrupt your flow.
Often what seems like chaos to us is merely a series of events are new and hard to figure out. By absorbing more of these chaotic moments with an open spirit, you can glimpse a pattern, a reason why they are occurring, and how you can exploit them.
You must find your freedom through the fluidity of your thoughts and your constant inventiveness. This means having a greater willingness to experiment, trying several ventures without fear of failing here or there.
Momentum in life comes from increased fluidity, a willingness to try move, to move in a less constricted fashion. Master the following four types of mental flow.
- MENTAL FLOW. The mind has a particular momentum itself; when it heats up and discovers something new, it tends to find other items to study and illuminate. Having such mental flow will allow you to constantly think around any obstacle and maintain your career momentum.
- EMOTIONAL FLOW. It might seem that intense feelings of love, hate, or anger can be used to impel you forward on some project, but that is an illusion. Such emotions give you a burst of energy that falls quickly and leaves you as low as your were high. Rather, you want a more balanced emotional life, with fewer highs and lows. This not only helps you keep moving and overcoming petty obstacles, but it also affects people’s perception of you. Maintaining such steadiness will keep that positive flow in motion.
- SOCIAL FLOW. You provide the framework, based on your knowledge and expertise, but you allow room for this project to be shaped by those involved in it. They are motivated and creative, helping to give the project more flow and force. You are not going too far in this process; you set the overall direction and tone. You are simply letting go of that fearful need to make people do exactly as you desire. In the long run, you will find that your ability to gently divert people’s energy in your direction gives you a wider range of control over the shape and result of the project.
- CULTURAL FLOW. You must find a way o periodically reinvent yourself. You are not trying to mimic the latest trend — that will make your look equally ludicrous. You are simply rediscovering that youthful attentiveness to what is happening around you and incorporation what you like into a newer spirit. You are taking pleasure in shaping your personality, wearing a new mask. The only thing your really have to fear is becoming a social and cultural relic.
You actively work to overcome this fixed nature, deliberately trying a different approach and style than your usual one, to get a sense of different possibility.
Chapter 5. Know When to Be Bad — Aggression
Before it is too late you must master the art of knowing when and how to be bad — using deception, manipulation, and outright force at the appropriate moments. Everyone operates with a flexible morality when it comes to their self-interest — you are simply making this more conscious and effective.
What you want is to feel secure and strong from within. You are willing to occasionally displease people and you are comfortable in taking on those who stand against your interests. From such a position of strength, you are able to handle friction in an effective manner, being bad when it is appropriate.
In your daily life you must assert yourself more than usual. This means that in your daily life you must assert yourself more than usual — you take on an aggressor instead of avoiding him; you stategize and push for something you want instead of waiting for someone to give it to you. Your confidence in handling such moments of friction will grow with each encounter.
When you submit in spirit to aggressors or to an unjust and impossible situation, you do not buy yourself any real peace. You encourage people to go father, to take more form you, to use you for their own purposes.
People will take from you what they can. If they sense that you are the type of person who accepts and submits, they will and push until they have established an exploitative relationship with you.
We must learn to recognize the situations that require assertive (yet controlled) actions, and which mode of attack is suitable.
AGGRESSORS. Instead of reacting, you must give aggressors some space to go further with their attacks, getting them to expose themselves in the process and provide you plenty of juicy targets to hit.
PASSIVE AGGRESSORS. The only way to treat these types is to take bold, uncompromising action that either discourages further nonsense or sends them running away.
UNJUST SITUATIONS. You must learn to play the fox, letting go of your moral purity. You resist the pull to get emotional, and you craft strategic maneuvers designed to win public support.
STATIC SITUATIONS. 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. And there is great power to be hand by being the one to initiate a new order.
IMPOSSIBLE DYNAMICS. You need to create as much distance as possible, so they cannot inveigle these emotions into you. They must become dead to you so you can go on with your life.
Life naturally involves conflicting interests; people have their own issues, their own agendas, and they collide with yours. Instead of taking this personally or concerning yourself with people’s intention, you must simply work to protect and advance yourself in this competitive game, this bloody arena.
Chapter 6. Lead from the Front — Authority
Imbue your troops with the proper spirit through your actions, not words. They see you working harder than anyone, holding yourself to the highest standards, taking risks with confidence, and making tough decision. This inspires and binds the group together. In these democratic times, you must practice what you preach.
Leaders who work harder than anyone else, who practice what they preach, who are not afraid to be accountable for tough decisions or to take risks, will find they have created a well of respect that will pay great dividends down the road.
You must imagine that you are continually being challenged to show that you deserve the position you occupy. In a culture full of fakery and hype, you will stand out as someone authentic and worthy of respect.
To be a leader often requires making touch choices, getting people to do things against their will. If you have chosen the soft, pleasing, compliant style of leadership, out of fear of being disliked, you will find yourself with less and less room to compel people to work harder or make sacrifices.
To master the art of leadership you must see yourself as playing certain parts that will impress your disciplines and make them more likely to follow you with the necessary enthusiasm. The following are the four main roles you must learn to perform.
- THE VISIONARY. You must have the strength to stamp the group with your own personality and vision, giving it a core and an identity.
- THE UNIFIER. A group needs a centripetal force to give it unity and cohesion but is not enough to have hat be you and the for of your personality. Instead it should be a cause that you fearlessly embody.
- THE ROLE MODEL. You need to develop a team of lieutenants who are infused with your ideas, your spirit, and your values. Once you have such a team, you can give them latitude to operate on their own, learning for themselves and bringing their own creativity to the cause.
- THE BOLD KNIGHT. You are not taking unnecessary risks, but simply adding a dash of aggression to your normally staid group. They become used to seeing you out in front and grow addicted to the excitement you bring with each new campaign.
Despite the spirit of the times, people have a secret yearning to be guided by a firm hand, by someone who knows where they are going. In the end, if people mistrust and resist your authority, you really have only yourself to blame.
Chapter 7. Know Your Environment from the Inside Out — Connection
You must maintain as close a relationship to your environment as possible, getting an inside “feel” for what is happening around you, never lose touch with your base.
The public is never wrong. When people don’t respond to what you do, they’re telling you something loud and clear. You are just not listening.
You do not feel afraid or affronted by people who have different ways of thinking or acting. You do not feel superior to those on the outside. In fact, you are excited by such diversity. Your first move is to open your spirit to these differences, to understand what makes the Other tick, to gain a feel for people’s inner lives, how they see the world.
In such a melting pot as the modern world, with people’s tastes changing at a faster pace than ever before, our success depends on our ability to move outside ourselves and connect to other social networks.
You are afraid of having your assumptions challenged. You must let go of this need to control and narrow your field of vision. When you study an individual or a group, your goal is to get inside their minds, their experiences, their way of looking at things. To do this, you must interact with them on a more equal plane.
In any event, what you are seeking is maximum interaction, allowing you to get a feel for people from the inside. You come to thrive off their feedback and criticism. The following are four strategies you can use to bring yourself closer to this ideal.
- CRUSH ALL DISTANCE. In this day and age, to reach people you must have access to their inner lives — their frustration, aspiration, resentments. To do so, you must crush as much distance as possible between you and your audience. You enter their spirit and absorb it from within.
- OPEN INFORMAL CHANNELS OF CRITICISM AND FEEDBACK. If some distance between you and public must be maintained, by the nature of your group or enterprise, then the ideal is to open up as many informal channels as possible, getting your feedback straight from the source.
- RECONNECT WITH YOUR BASE. Know your base and work to reconnect with it. Keep your association with it alive, intense, and present. Return to your origins — the source of all inspiration and power.
- CREATE THE SOCIAL MIRROR. When your work does not communicate with others, consider it your own fault — you did not make your ideas clear enough and you failed to connect with your audience emotionally.
Knowledge of human nature and social factors, the kind that is often most valuable to us, depends o knowing people and networks from the inside, on getting a feel for what they are experiencing. This can be gained by an intense involvement and participation, as opposed to the pseudoscientific pose of the intellectual addicted to studies, citations, and number, all designed to back up their preconceptions.
A really intelligent man feels what other men only know.
Chapter 8. Respect the Process — Mastery
You must learn early on to endure the hours of practice and drudgery, knowing that in the end all of that time will translate into a higher pleasure — master of a craft and of yourself. Your goal is to reach the ultimate skill level — an intuitive feel for what must come next.
Most people can’t handle boredom. That means they can’t stay on one thing until they get good at it. And they wonder why they’re unhappy.
Before it is too late we must wake up and realize that real power and success can come only through mastering a process, which in turn depends on a foundation of discipline that we are constantly keeping sharp.
The real secret, the real formula for power in this world, lies in accepting the ugly reality that learning requires a process, and this in turn demands patience and the ability to endure drudge work. The following are five principles for developing the proper relationship to process.
PROGRESS THROUGH TRIAL AND ERROR. To master any process you must learn through trial and error. You experiment, you take some hard blows, and you see what works and doesn’t work in real life.
MASTER SOMETHING SIMPLE. When you take the time to master a simple process and overcome a basic insecurity, you develop certain skills that can be applied to anything. You see instantly the reward that comes from patience, practice, and discipline.
INTERNALIZE THE RULES OF THE GAME. If you find yourself confronting an unjust and corrupt system, it is much more effective to learn its codes from the inside and discover its vulnerabilities. Knowing how it works, you can take it apart — for good.
ATTUNE YOURSELF TO THE DETAILS. You have a project you wish to bring to life, but you begin by immersing yourself in the details of the subject or field. You look at the material you have to work with, the tastes of your target audience, and the latest technical advances in the field.
REDISCOVER YOUR NATURAL PERSISTENCE. Anything will give way to a sustained, persistent attack on your part.
Chapter 9. Push Beyond Your Limits — Self-Belief
Ask for more, aim high, and believe that you are destined for something great. Your sense of self-worth comes from you alone — never the opinion of others, with a rising confidence in your abilities, you will take risks that will increase your chances of success.
You are in fact a mystery to yourself. You began life as someone completely unique — a mix of qualities that will never be repeated in the history of the universe. In your earliest years, you were a mass of conflicting emotions and desires. Then something foreign to you is placed over this reality. Who you are is much more chaotic and fluid than this surface character; you are full of untapped potential and possibility.
When you raise your opinion of yourself and what you are capable of it has a decided influence on what you do.
People will constantly attack you in life. One of their main weapons will be to instill in you doubts about yourself — your worth, your abilities, your potential.
You are essentially free to move beyond any limits others have set for you, to re-create yourself as thoroughly as you wish.
What blocks us from moving in this direction are the pressures we feel to conform; our rigid, habitual patterns of thinking; and our self-doubts and fears. The following are five strategies to help you push past these limits.
- DEFY ALL CATEGORIES. Remaining unique, you will create something unique and inspire the kind of respect you would never receive from tepid conformity.
- CONSTANTLY REINVENT YOURSELF. People judge you by appearances, the image you project through your actions, words, and style. If you do not take control of this process, then people will see and defined you the way they want to, often to your detriment.
- SUBVERT YOUR PATTERNS. By taking an action we have never done before, we place ourselves in unfamiliar territory — our minds naturally awaken to the novel situation.
- CREATE A SENSE OF DESTINY. Having supreme confidence makes you fearless and persistent, allowing you to overcome obstacles that stop most people in their tracks.
- BET ON YOURSELF. You must always be prepared to place a bet on yourself, on your future, by heading in a direction that others seem to fear. This means you believe that if you fail, you have the inner resources to recover.
Chapter 10. Confront Your Mortality — the Sublime
Knowing our days to be numbered, we have a sense of urgency and mission. We can appreciate life all the more for its impermanence. If we can overcome the fear of death, then there is nothing left to fear.
If attaining certain goals becomes your greatest source of pleasure, then your days are filled with purpose and direction, and whenever death comes, you have no regrets.
The Sublime in any form tends to evoke feelings of awe and power. The following are the four sensations of a sublime moment and to conjure them.
- THE SENSE OF REBIRTH. Whenever life feels particularly dull or confining, we can force ourselves to leave familiar ground.
- THE SENSE OF EVANESCENCE AND URGENCY. Contemplating sublime time has innumerable positive effects — it makes us feel a sense of urgency to get things done now, gives us a better grasp of what really matters, and instills a heightened appreciation of the passage of time, the poignancy and beauty of all things that fade away.
- THE SENSE OF AWE. Experiencing awe on any scale is like a sudden blast of reality — therapeutic and inspiring.
- THE SENSE OF THE OCEANIC, THE CONNECTION TO ALL LIFE. Absorbing this reality should have a positive effect upon us all.