by Steve Roh
Hello, I’m happy to offer my latest article for the Banyan Hypnosis E-Zine. This series is intended to help hypnosis professionals by briefly summarizing books from outside of the field, and describing how the information can be applied within a hypnosis practice.
In this issue, we are going to summarize “The 50th Law” by 50 Cent and Robert Greene. A bit of background about both the authors will be useful in understanding the context of this book.
Robert Greene is a best-selling author of books including “48 Laws of Power”. His books are distillations of concepts about the nature of power, gathered from sources such as Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Miyamoto Musashi, and Taoist philosophy, combined with analysis of the historical applications of those concepts by figures such as Napoleon, Queen Elizabeth, etc.
50 Cent is a very successful artist who started life in very “disadvantaged” circumstances (to put it mildly). He managed to work his way up as a youth selling crack cocaine starting at the age of twelve, surviving nine bullet wounds as he began his musical career, eventually putting together a business empire to become one of the most recognized performers in the world with an estimated net worth over $400 million.
For the purposes of this summary let us set aside any desire to moralize about the lifestyle of 50 Cent and the appropriateness of studying the nature of power. Besides, those who are most vocal about proclaiming their morality, decrying the immorality of studying the mechanics of power, are often already part of established power structures (either actively or passively) which benefit from people being kept ignorant of how they are manipulated like pawns.
Robert Greene views 50 Cent as a modern-day Napoleon; someone who intuitively understood the laws of power and out of necessity had to apply them in daily life. The 50th Law and the overriding theme of the book is: Fear Nothing. With the understanding that no human is born fearless, each chapter in the book is a “lesson in fearlessness” to help people get closer to that ideal.
Some of the lessons will be examined here in more detail than others; sorry, but I have to accept the reality of time constraints! Speaking of which…
10 Lessons in Fearlessness
I: See Things for What They Are – Intense Realism
For a person to operate most effectively towards a goal, it is crucial that they are willing and able to face reality. This is what “Think and Grow Rich” author Napoleon Hill (different Napoleon here) would call “accurate thinking”, which he considered to be a necessary component of a successful mindset. Without accurate thinking, a person responds to inaccurate perceptions about their environment with inappropriate feelings and ineffective actions.
Which leads me to Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” — the godfather of strategic texts. I think Sun Tzu’s work is fundamentally about realism and accurate thinking.
I was recently speaking with a client who is an attorney, about “The Art of War”. If you are familiar with the book, you may wonder, as he did, about the relevance of the many chapters involving subjects such as counting the number of chariots available for attack, or assessing the terrain to determine whether the ground is muddy or dry. What does that have to do with modern life?
I think Sun Tzu emphasizes calculations and terrain, because he wants to point the mind to objective analysis of the situation and environment, without subjective judgment based on the personality or whims or wishful thinking of the leader. If the terrain is swamp-land, do not treat it as if it were solid ground, just because you’d prefer it that way. If calculations show that you’d most likely lose a conflict, do not engage in the fight, just because you like the idea of possibly gaining a glorious and ego-pleasing victory.
In a way, this gets to the idea of the no-self, which is well-represented by the writings of Miyamoto Musashi in “The Book of the Five Rings”. The goal is to eliminate the interference caused by ego-based ideas about preferences, likes and dislikes.
And this gets to the idea of “Accept everything as it is.” Not in the passive, helpless sense of victimhood; but in the sense of accepting harsh reality about the marketplace, human nature, the financials of the business, and therefore being able to do whatever needs to be done to manage risk and achieve goals without hesitation or second-guessing.
In the hypnotic field, when working with clients, I think this idea is applicable in the sense that we must do our best to not create “stories” about our clients and their problems, based on our own preferences and analytical overlay.
A simple example would be the over-reliance on content-based suggestions, for example where a client is instructed to imagine being on a warm, sandy beach in order to relax, or a soothing musical theme is played during a session, because the hypnotist believes that everyone must like that kind of thing, since the hypnotist does.
Another real-life example: a client told me about how she had seen a hypnotist to improve her eating habits. During the interview, the hypnotist recommended that the client change their diet to follow a specific program. The client did not want to do that, as is their right, of course.
But during the session, with the client in hypnosis, the hypnotist decided to go ahead and tried to suggest that the client follow that program. Of course the client was able to reject that unwanted suggestion and spent the rest of the session fuming at the hypnotist — that hypnotist should have “accepted everything (including the client) the way it is”!
A more complex example would be when a hypnotist constructs a story in their mind about why a client has a problem, based on guesses and speculation about family dynamics, typically tainted by personal experiences with such matters. Often, you can see this kind of thing being played out on hypnosis internet forums when a “case study” is presented; it is sad to think that a client’s sessions might be run based on “analysis” offered by random people on the internet who are trying to diagnose a problem through an online forum, several layers removed from reality.
(By the way, the common occurrence of certified hypnotists resorting to seeking assistance from random people online should be of concern to anyone who cares about educational standards in this field. If so many hypnotists feel they are unable to get guidance on basic issues or mentorship from whoever trained and certified them, then what does that say about the general quality of trainers and instructors in this field? I mean, who the heck is certifying the folks who ask questions like “Does anyone here have a script to treat schizophrenia?”)
Also, in the hypnotic profession, there can be a tendency to rely on “affirmations” or “positive thinking” as a solution to problems, regardless of harsh reality. There is the well-known affirmation that clients are encouraged to repeat to themselves: “Every day in every way, I get better and better.”
But what if that’s not true? In fact, could that statement ever possibly be true, unless the meaning of “better” is interpreted in a way that is so diluted as to mean nothing?
Some recent research has shown that repeating positive affirmations can in fact be counterproductive and harmful when they are not based on reality.
There is a famous quote by Jim Rohn: “Affirmation without discipline is beginning of delusion.” Delusion can be the result of either overly optimistic or overly pessimistic thinking, in the former case often arising from an undisciplined mind which is uncomfortable with and fearful of negativity. I think we owe it to our clients to make our best effort not to encourage self-delusion in either direction.
Finally, intense realism in the realm of marketing serves the purpose of making it easier for hypnotists to serve more people.
Instead of the hypnotist basing their marketing and advertising on what the hypnotist would prefer to focus on (such as the wondrous mechanics of “The Subconscious”), seeing things for what they are in terms of the market and human nature (accepting that humans are self-interested and mainly want to know What’s In It For Me?), makes it easier for the hypnotist/marketer to address the real concerns and needs of the people they are serving. And that should be the focus, right?
II: Make Everything Your Own – Self Reliance
III: Turn S___ into Sugar – Opportunism
This is the same ideal expounded by Napoleon Hill: “Within every adversity there is an equal or greater opportunity”.
IV: Keep Moving – Calculated Momentum, Flow
Of course, being a rapper 50 Cent would be interested in flow. The concept can also be applied to hypnosis. Hypnotic work should be, well… hypnotic! Meaning there should be an entrancing flow of thoughts and images and suggestions and ideas and responses to those elements in a dynamic and organic interaction.
This relates to the need to be careful about being dependent upon hypnosis scripts. I often use scripted content during certain parts of a session, because the good ones are highly optimized in terms of both language and structure. But there’s nothing entrancing or hypnotic about closing your eyes and listening to someone who is hesitantly and obviously reading from a piece of paper without any sense of drama or confidence about the process.
V: Know When to be “Bad” – Aggression
Have you noticed that oftentimes hypnotists seem very intent on making sure that people know that they are “good”, and that they operate on a “higher level of consciousness”? Maybe it’s just me, but have you also noticed that many times folks who proclaim themselves as being calm and serene fountains of light and wisdom, tend to be highly reactive and defensive when things aren’t going their way?
Anyway, I think hypnotists should lose the mantle of superior wisdom and enlightenment that they often wrap themselves in. This gets to the first lesson of “intense realism” — accept that you the hypnotist are a human with tendencies towards self-interest and expediency, and do not let egoistic ideas about being “good” determine your actions.
In any case, it’s just poor marketing to present yourself as an enlightened being (unless you are specifically selling to an audience that wants to buy that, of course). Clients feel relieved to find a hypnotist who does not seem intent on preaching to them from a pedestal.
One of the tenets of the fantastic book “The Go-Giver” is: the most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself, so Be Authentic. Authentic humans are flawed jerks in one way or another. Pretending otherwise is pretending, and insults people’s intelligence (assuming your target market is not intentionally composed of gullible fools).
Once you become accepting of the fact that you have a self-serving and flawed nature, then it becomes easier to operate effectively in the marketplace, because you are able to accept that everyone else does too. You will not be thrown off-balance by the aggressive or (more likely in modern society) passive-aggressive actions of others; you will not take them personally or emotionally.
Miyamoto Musashi, famed swordsman and victor of over 60 life-and-death duels, wrote: “Respect Buddha and the other gods, without counting on their help.”
In the context of this article, this can be restated as: “Respect humans and their good nature, without counting on that.”
The key to using your “bad” and aggressive nature effectively is to use it on purpose, consciously, and with a specific goal in mind.
In this field, because it attracts many kind and caring people, they often are uncomfortable with actively promoting their service, or even taking payment worthy of the service rendered. This discomfort is often rooted in fear-based self-indulgence, cloaked by ideals about “noncompetitiveness”.
The rise of social networking sites has also made it easy to fall into that passive mode of non-marketing, ie. “I don’t feel comfortable promoting or advertising my services to strangers or doing the grubby work to make money… if I just get a lot of like-minded friends on these social networking sites, and make clear that I am a caring and kind human being, the abundant universe will send prosperity my way!”
Look, I believe in an infinitely abundant universe too, so I’m not making fun of that concept. But it is obviously often used as a convenient excuse for laziness and passivity, and for surrendering to a fear of competition — a dirty word in some quarters. Vigorous competition serves the public interest, and there is no conflict between the concepts of competition and abundance, unless you foolishly think that competition is about a desperate struggle for survival.
Fear-based avoidance of competition is the ultimate expression of true scarcity mentality.
Anyway, if you setup your marketing right (authentically), there really is no competition, because there is no other person who has the same qualities and quirks as you, and your unique relationship with a client. But if you are just another “certified hypnotist” who specializes in “smoking cessation, weight loss, and stress management”, then your value to the marketplace is minimal.
(Now, aggressive and active marketing is not the same thing as stupid marketing, where a practitioner makes up transparently obvious lies about their experience and credentials, or engages in shady business practices — the kind of things sometimes engaged in by practitioners who think they need to do those things in order to succeed, basically out of ignorance about how counterproductive and unnecessary it is.)
Bottom line: your acceptance of the self-interested aspects of your nature a.k.a. “selfishness” can be beneficial towards your goal to serve others.
VI: Lead from the Front – Authority
This concept is sometimes discussed amongst hypnotists in the form of questions such as “Can a fat, cigarette-smoking, meek and broke hypnotist help a client become healthy, confident and wealthy?”
Of course, just because a hypnotist has bad habits or fears does not mean that they are incapable of helping a client overcome those issues. But this is where we can relate the first lesson once again: “See Things as They Are – Intense Realism”.
Although it may not be fair for prospective clients to judge the competence of a hypnotist based on the practitioner’s own lack of success, fairness has nothing to do with reality. It doesn’t matter what the hypnotist wants to believe; the perception, at the layer of reality that matters, is that someone who apparently cannot solve their own problem is not worthy of leading others to solve others’ problems, and therefore has little authority.
VII: Know Your Environment Inside Out – Connection
This lesson can be related to my earlier article in this series, which summarized Michael Port’s “Book Yourself Solid”, about the importance of understanding and connecting with your Ideal Client.
VIII: Respect the Process – Mastery
This is a great lesson for the hypnosis field. There are no shortcuts to mastery. There is no weekend course or DVD or website where you can learn to become a “master hypnotist”. There are only hours, days, weeks, months and years of practice and drudgery to get to that level.
What doesn’t count: chatting on the internet or reading books or listening to hypnosis podcasts or watching YouTube induction videos. It is amazing how many people in this field seem to consider themselves to be headed towards mastery mainly because they produce a high volume of messages on hypnosis forums!
Actually, if you think about the true masters of this field, they would never feel a need to remind everyone that they are Master Hypnotists; only folks who think that a certificate = mastery would be so inane.
IX: Push Beyond Your Limits – Self-Belief
X: Confront Your Mortality – the Sublime
This last lesson is such a meaty topic that I cannot address it fairly in the time I have left to submit this. Perhaps another article will deal with it in fuller detail.
In brief, this lesson is related to the concept of “resolute acceptance of death” found in the Japanese text “Hidden Leaves”, and also the chapter about the Angel of Death in the more familiar work “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz.
Maybe for now we should not get too morbid (not that there’s anything wrong with a bit of morbidity), so this concept can also be related to the idea of the end of things, loss and even failure. I think it would be beneficial for hypnosis practitioners to accept the inevitability of failure in this work.
Many trained hypnotists are frightened about the possibility of failure, which I think is a reason many are hesitant about getting out there and doing the work. What a shame!
Just like accepting the inevitability of death enables you to see things in proper proportion, and to value the important things, accepting future failures helps you realize that The World Will Not End if sometimes you and your clients fail to achieve their specific goals. To think otherwise is really just a self-important delusion.
Well, I hope that some of these concepts are of use to you in your practice in the new year! I highly recommend “The 50th Law” by Robert Greene and 50 Cent, if only to stir up interesting ideas in your mind and along the way learn about some fascinating episodes in human history.
© 2009 Steve Roh