The Key to Transforming Yourself -- Robert Greene (Video)

Your Primal Inclinations and the Concept of Mastery.

"Now the moral of the story, as I told the people who had come to me for advice and as I’m telling you now is the following. We, humans, tend to fixate on what we can see with our eyes. It is the most animal part of our nature. When we look at the changes and transformations in other people’s lives, we see the good luck that someone had in meeting a person like Joost, with all of the right connections and the funding. We see the book or the project that brings the money and the attention. In other words, we see the visible signs of opportunity and success in our own lives, but we are grasping at an illusion. What really allows for such dramatic changes are the things that occur on the inside of a person and are completely invisible. The slow accumulation of knowledge and skills, the incremental improvements in work habits and the ability to withstand criticism. Any change in people’s fortune is merely the visible manifestation of all of that deep preparation over time."

"By essentially ignoring this internal, invisible aspect, we fail to change anything fundamental within ourselves. And so in a few years time, we reach our limits. Yet again we grow frustrated, we crave change, we grab at something quick and superficial, and we remain prisoners forever of these recurring patterns in our lives."

"The answer. The key to the ability to transform ourselves is actually insanely simple to reverse this perspective: Stop fixating on what other people are saying and doing on the money, the connections, the outward appearance of things. Instead look inward, focus on the smaller internal changes that lay the groundwork for a much larger change in fortune. It is the difference between grasping at an illusion and immersing yourself in reality. And the reality is what will liberate and transform you."

The centrepiece of his argument is that we focus too much on the visible, and not enough on the internal journey that is require for self-transformation. And how to do we focus on improving ourselves from the inside? Counterintuitively, through our work, the area in which most people find problems.

  1. Many people have issues, but they often come down to wanting real and substantial changes in their lives.
  2. When Greene was young, he already knew he wanted to be a writer; he just didn’t know what type of writer. But he was advised early on not to be a writer, and that he was not “writer material”.
  3. Eventually he did realise that his career didn’t suit him as a way to make a living, and his worked reflect this. So he quit his job as a journalist and bounced around various jobs, still writing various forms (thought none of it got published).
  4. One day when a friend asked if he had any ideas for a book, all his experiences came together into an idea for a book (that become the 48 Laws of Power). Those varied experiences all gave him a broad scope of knowledge that allowed him to write the book — historical knowledge, the ability to tell stories, and knowing how to put research together, among others.
  5. We human tend to fixate on what we can see in front of us, that is our nature. When we look at transformations in other peoples’ lives, we see the visible signs of opportunity and success. But this is an illusion.
  6. What allows dramatic changes to occur is what happens on the inside. This is completely invisible. Such as the accumulation of knowledge and skills, and the ability to withstand criticism.
  7.  Any change in people’s fortunes is just a visible manifestation of that deep preparation over time. So if we ignore this internal change that is required, we will fail to change ourselves.
  8. So stop fixating to what other people are saying and doing about the money, the connections and the outward appearance of things.
  9. Focus instead on the smaller internal changes that lay the groundwork for large changes in fortune.
  10. It is the difference between grasping at an illusion and immersing yourself in reality.
  11. If each of us is unique, and when we are young we have what he calls “primal inclinations” that draw us to particular subjects. But over time we listen to other people that tell us what we should pay attention to instead, what is cool or not cool. This causes us to take paths that are not suited to us emotionally and intellectually.
  12. So reflect back on these early inclinations, and look at those subjects in the present that spark that child-like curiosity, and look at the subjects that repel you, that have no emotional resonance. From this, decide a direction you must take. This gives you a position to begin exploring. We must then continue to listen to our internal “radar”.
  13. With this internally-driven mindset, we do things differently:hours of practice are not so burdensome, we sustain our attention longer, the learning process excites us, and we are more present.
  14. The way to transform yourself is through your work. Instead we think self-transformation comes from spiritual journeys, therapy, gurus, intense group experiences. But most of these are ways of running away and are liked to boredom, and is disconnected from process.
  15. Work, however, allows us to connect with who we are instead of running away. And that slow organic process changes us in a way that is from the inside out and is very lasting. It can also be seen as quite spiritual, and we get to contribute something meaningful to the world.