Do you think you know yourself? Like, really know yourself? Have you taken the time to reflect and think about everything that you are? It’s amazing to think that your unique DNA has never been and will never be again in the history of the universe. Isn’t that insane to think about? You are destined for greatness through your uniqueness!
It’s always a good day when I get to have Robert Greene back on the show. He was my very first interview on this podcast, and I’ve had him back several times since then. He is a best-selling author who’s written a new book called, The Daily Laws: 366 Meditations on Power, Seduction, Mastery, Strategy, and Human Nature.
I think a lot of people feel like they are powerless right now. They don’t feel like they have a sense of control over what’s happening in the world today. They don’t feel like they have the power to overcome their circumstances and achieve greatness within themselves.
In this episode, we discuss how to find your inner power when you feel like you’ve lost it, why you should embrace your inner weirdness, what conversations you should be having with yourself to become successful, the skills you should master, the things that are wasting your time, and so much more. Let’s get into it!
Robert Greene is a world-famous American author known for his books on seduction, strategy, and power. He has six international bestselling books to his name including the New York Times bestsellers, The 48 Laws of Power, The 33 Strategies of War, Mastery, The 50th Law, and The Laws of Human Nature. His new book, The Daily Laws: 366 Meditations on Power, Seduction, Mastery, Strategy, and Human Nature, offers a daily dose of concise and refined wisdom through easy-to-digest lessons readers can learn each day.
Growing up in Los Angeles, Robert attended the University of California, Berkeley before finishing a degree in classical studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After finishing college, Robert worked many jobs, from a construction worker to a magazine editor and translator, to a Hollywood movie writer before eventually becoming a bestselling author.
Through his written works, Robert Greene teaches readers how to detach themselves from their own emotions and master self-control. He also shows them how to look behind people’s masks, how to develop the empathy that leads to insight, how to resist conformity to develop their own sense of purpose, and how to find their inner power.
Robert expressed in the interview that a lot of people don’t know themselves very well and that that is the core of a lot of problems in our society. I asked him how we can find that inner power?
“It all starts with something very simple, which is the power over yourself. If you have no power over yourself, then you’re at the whim of everything else in this world. So what does that mean to have power over yourself? Well, … it begins with something very simple, which is: You have to know who you are.” – Robert Greene
Robert explained to me that when you’re untethered to yourself, everything else will affect you in a way that you cannot control, and you end up wandering through life being triggered by things that are not important. Everything will start to affect you personally, and you’ll get grumpy, insecure, bitter, and resentful.
He says our phones are a big distraction. We are listening to what other people are telling us is cool on Instagram, Tik Tok, and Facebook.
“We’re … creatures of the media. We’ve been programmed. We don’t really know what drives us anymore. We are so tuned to what other people are telling us is what we should be interested in. [To know who you are] takes some reflection, it means you have to be able to step back and be alone with your thoughts. Meditate and reflect on your childhood, on who you are, on the mistakes you made, on the wrong career paths you’ve taken, and the wrong relationships. Then you can begin to construct an image of that real secret inner you that lies buried deep within all the bullsh*t.” – Robert Greene
Robert learned these life lessons through his own journey of failing, feeling lost, and then getting back up again. He didn’t really have anything to show for his life until he was about 40 years old when he published The 48 Laws of Power. Before that, he had wandered around Europe trying to write the next great American novel, tried and failed at journalism, tried and failed at screenwriting, and couldn’t sell any of his work.
But all of that rich life experience lent itself well to talking about finding your power and going your own way with boldness. He pitched the idea of The 48 Laws of Power, wrote a proposal that would get his publisher excited, and finally something worked. Twenty years later, this book is selling more than ever.
I love that Robert Greene focuses a lot on uniqueness in his books and reclaims the word “weird” as a good thing. Your “weirdness” is actually what makes you unique, and since there is no one on this planet like you, you should just focus on being yourself! In fact, by not being yourself, you are doing the world a great disservice.
“You’re a freak. You’re weird. You’re different. But to embrace it — that’s your source of power. When people criticize you and you have setbacks, you’ll land back on your feet. If you know that, you’ll have moments of doubt and depression, like I did, but you’ll eventually land back on your feet.” – Robert Greene
Robert also emphasized that failure is a good thing. Failure teaches you how to develop inner toughness and thick skin. There is a lot of adversity in life, and if you’ve only had everything good, the first time something happens that you didn’t expect, in Robert’s words, you will wilt. So failure actually keeps you on the rebound, which is a good thing.
Many people will disguise the reason they are not trying by saying they are not ready, but it’s not true. They will never be ready with that kind of attitude. They need to face their fears and just try something to get their life moving in the direction they want it to go. The problem is, there is no one giving you a deadline or milestone to get something done, so you have to make those markers yourself. Robert says what’s missing in our society is a sense of urgency to follow your dreams because there is only a small window of time to make it happen.
“You have to live on what I call ‘death ground.’ Death ground means that your back is up against the wall. The enemy is coming at you, and it’s either defeat them or die. You have to tell yourself that you only have so much time. I believe the peak creative years for anybody is in their thirties.” – Robert Greene
On the flip side, sometimes people do try really hard to achieve their dreams, and they still find themselves banging their heads against the wall. Robert explains that a big skill that most people don’t have is how to sell themselves. If he were to go back in time, he said he would learn more about marketing for this reason.
“You have to learn how to master your art and then how to master the art of selling yourself. If no one knows who you are, then you’re not going to have opportunities to be able to monetize your craft and provide a lifestyle for yourself.” – Robert Greene
With this comes the understanding of human psychology, emotions, politics, and egos. It’s a “power game” as he says, and we need to learn how to play it well in order to succeed in life.
Speaking of succeeding in life, have you ever felt like you have this big, grandiose goal but no idea how to bridge your present to the fulfillment of that goal? Many of us feel this way which is why Robert Greene discusses the concept of the “Ladder of Descending Goals” in his book. This concept is about taking your long-term goal and breaking it up into smaller, more achievable chunks. These become daily, monthly, weekly, and annual goals that are much more reachable. It also gives you a feeling of pride and accomplishment once you hit these goals, which gives you more motivation and momentum to go after the next set of goals.
“Don’t make it [your goals] too difficult, but don’t make it too easy either. I always tell people to make it a little bit above what you think you can do, and you’ll get there.” – Robert Greene
It’s also important not to get too distracted by trying to be the jack of all trades yet master of none. Because of how accessible information is these days, it can be enticing to try way too many things, but that ultimately bogs down your mission. Pick one or two things that you are super passionate about and pursue those things because it’s the passion that will fuel the fire when the going gets tough.
“The main thing that’ll get you ahead in life is your level of enthusiasm and excitement over anything else.” – Robert Greene
At the end of each episode, I ask my guests what three truths they would leave behind for the future. Here is what Robert said:
These are three truths I will definitely be putting into practice more often, especially the one about appreciating and loving deeply what I have now. I can be so future-focused that I can miss all the amazing things happening in the moment. Life is a beautiful thing amidst the struggle and the climb.
Guys, it’s okay to be weird. There are so many more amazing nuggets of wisdom that Robert dropped in this interview, so make sure to listen to the full episode for more! Don’t forget to share this episode with someone who needs to hear it. You could change someone’s life.
Follow Robert on social media (listed in the show notes below) and check out his website to view all of his books. Also, if you liked what you heard today, tag Robert, @robertgreeneofficial, and me, @lewishowes, on Instagram with your greatest takeaways!
I want to acknowledge Robert for being my first ever guest on The School of Greatness and for being so consistent in his life. He creates beautiful pieces of art that serve and help people, and I think it’s incredible that he continues to show up and do this, even when he doesn’t have to. I acknowledge him for always being the example, even during challenging times, and I appreciate his friendship. His definition of greatness is something we all need to remember:
“[Greatness is] realizing your potential to some degree. If your potential is to build something, however small it is, and you realized it, and you realized 50- 60% of your potential, that is greatness. Then you can go to bed at night, feeling good and proud of yourself. So a lot of it is not the money that matters. It’s not the attention that matters. It’s the inner feeling you have that you have accomplished something and fulfilled your potential.” – Robert Greene
Friends, join me on Episode 1193 to learn about finding your inner power, embracing your weirdness, and the life skills you need to master with Robert Greene! It’ll change your life!