A Conversation with Robert Greene


We had the opportunity to speak with Robert Greene, author of four international bestsellers: The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, and The 50th Law. His new book, Mastery, was recently released and it may be the most important book you ever read.

Greene has distilled the latest science and the wisdom from past greats in an easily digestible and direct way. What did he discover? It’s ALL within your grasp. People fall into the trap of thinking that success depends on who your parents are, where you went to school, or whether or not you’re being born with certain innate advantages. You can achieve far more than you think. It’s in your control. If you pursue a path that is aligned with your deepest interests – your primal inclinations – you are going to move into a process of mastery. During this phase you will learn faster and develop more skill than you ever thought possible.

Our brains evolved to make us supreme opportunists. We’d see a rock and instinctively know it could be used as a tool or a weapon. Those who seized the opportunity prospered. The same holds true today. Being an opportunist is a GOOD thing! Opportunities come to you everyday. Most of them pass you by because your eyes aren’t open. Have a fluid, adaptable mind. Are you ready? Are you skilled enough? Be ready for your opportunity.

The latest research in neuroscience shows that our brains are plastic. That means we literally create and recreate our brain every day. Your way of thinking is not set at birth. Your habits and routine – what you do each day – changes the neurological structures of your brain. Your brain is meant to change, adapt and evolve. You are not a product of uncontrollable circumstances. If you are always learning and growing, your brain grows. If you are inert all day, your brain atrophies like an unused muscle. Remember, you create yourself.

There are two major obstacles that get in the way of mastery in these moderns times.

1. Technology – While it can make mastery easier, it’s also a major distraction. Many believe that everything must be achieved quickly, so we don’t want to put in the time (10,000 hours) to become masters. We are outwardly focused. Instead look inward. Who are you? What makes you unique?

2. Cultural barriers – In the past, following your true calling was reserved for the upper class. That’s no longer the case. Today, people have the perception that power and mastery is elitist and, therefore, a bad thing. In reality, it’s about finding out what you love and chasing it.

Everyone should become a master. That doesn’t necessarily mean becoming famous or even rich (unless that’s what you want). It means discovering what moves you and pursuing that to its fullest. Go into the line of work that suits you. The Internet and entrepreneurship make opportunities possible today that were inconceivable 10-15 years ago.

Robert always knew he wanted to be writer, but he didn’t know what kind of writer. He struggled and wandered for years and still didn’t find his calling. Then, in 1995, he pitched an idea for a book about power. He had always been interested in hidden realities. From his years working in Hollywood he saw that people were driven by the desire for power and control. But no one wanted to talk about it. Power was behind the scenes. He wanted to bring it into focus. That pitch turned into his first book, the best selling 48 Laws of Power, which started him down a path that he continues to walk today.

Experience and frustration prepared Greene, then he seized an opportunity and changed his life.

Having just finished the Steve Jobs biography, we discussed the Apple CEO’s use of the Reality Distortion Field. Self belief can be an incredibly motivating device. You accomplish what you think you are worth accomplishing. If you think of yourself as great, you have a better chance of being great. But it must be grounded in reality. Steve Jobs had grand achievements which were grounded in reality and based on his skills. His reality distortion field gave him the confidence to pull of what many thought was impossible. The lesson here is to create your own reality distortion field while also mastering a unique set of skills.

We all encounter obstacles in our path. That’s a good thing! The saying that keeps Robert going is the Nietzsche quote “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”. While this line has turned into a cliche, it is truly powerful. You must learn to love resistance because it is resistance that makes you better. Just like the resistance of weight makes muscles grow, resistance in life grows your skills and patience. Embrace it, and use it to your advantage. Push yourself past previous limits. This keeps you alive and evolves your plastic brain.

Are you ready to discover your calling and walk the path? Then check out Mastery. Have questions for Robert Greene, his books, becoming a master, or anything else? Let us know in the comments and we’ll reach out to him for a response.

Be sure to check out Robert Greene’s blog and follow him on Twitter.