1-Sentence-Summary: The Daily Laws is a page-a-day, calendar-style book covering the three big topics of mastery, power, and emotions, sharing Robert Greene’s best lessons from 20 years of research of the dynamics within and between humans.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
If your son had worked some 60 odd jobs by the time he was 36, would you write him off as a lost cause? It’s a brutal question, but it’s hard to imagine any parent wouldn’t at least be deeply worried. And yet, in Robert Greene’s case, everything ultimately turned out more than just fine.
After what can only be called “a rough start” — and that’s an extreme understatement — Greene has now published multiple million-copy bestsellers. After researching the dynamics within and between humans for more than 20 years, he decided to curate the best of his many “laws” from his books. The result is The Daily Laws, a 366-page compendium with short, daily life lessons.
The book is structured like a calendar, but the months are sub-grouped into three major sections. Here’s a lesson from one of each of them:
- Mastery is a lifelong journey, not a destination we arrive at.
- The game of power is always on, and there are only 3 ways to react to it.
- Avoid tactical hell by zooming out regularly in all kinds of life scenarios.
Ready to learn what Robert Greene has discovered after 20 years of analyzing the human mind? Let’s dig in!
Lesson 1: Mastery is a never-ending process — it must be maintained, not attained.
Over the first three months, the book deals with mastery, about which Greene wrote a book of the same name.
Going back to his own journey to becoming a writer, Greene had loved words since he was a child, but a career in journalism didn’t pan out, and so he began bouncing from job to job. He kept writing on the side, however, and eventually, opportunity struck. Greene published The 48 Laws of Power, a book that sold over two million copies and changed his career.
If you asked him today, however, he’d still tell you he’s constantly learning. Greene believes mastery must be maintained, not attained. After discovering your “life’s task,” a process he likens to “an archaeological dig” rather than a magical revelation, you first must apprentice. Following years of mentorship, you’ll become a master — but that’s not where the journey ends.
In The One Thing, Gary Keller shared a great way of looking at it:
“When you can see mastery as a path you go down instead of a destination you arrive at, it starts to feel accessible and attainable. Mastery is a way of thinking, a way of acting, and a journey you experience.”
No matter how good you are at your job, how famous you become, or how many books you sell, remember that you must always keep practicing, learning, and growing. Mastery is a path we walk, not a destination we arrive at.
Lesson 2: Power is a never-ending game that’s always being played, and you can only embrace it, ignore it, or accept it.
Most of Greene’s writing deals with power: how we attain and lose it, and the games people play to get and keep it. For five months, his daily laws cover various questions around power. One of the most fundamental yet important ones is that humans are always playing power games.
Whether you like it or not, people want power, and so wherever humans are involved, power struggles come into play — pun intended. There are only three ways to deal with the fact that life is a never-ending game of power:
- Embrace it. Many people love power games. Unfortunately, the Machiavellis out there often lose their power due to corruption and being too desperate for it.
- Ignore it. Others pretend power doesn’t exist or turn up their nose at anyone who gives in to a desire for status. But that’s just opting out of a game everyone else plays. You can — but you’ll also end up with no power.
- Accept it. A balanced person will choose when and which power games to play. You can sit out some of them but make sure you attain power where it really matters to you, and thus live a good life.
Power isn’t inherently good or bad. Like money or status, it’s just a tool. What it leads to depends on how you use it. Stay aware of the power games happening around you at all times, and then make conscious decisions about which ones you actually want to play.
Lesson 3: If you don’t want to get stuck in “tactical hell,” you must take a higher, wider, more long-term perspective regularly.
“Tactical hell” is a term Greene uses for the reactive mode all of us find ourselves in from time to time. You’re so stressed out, you don’t even know where to begin. Deadlines, chores, the demands of friends and family — it’s all too much, and all you can do is react, react, react. But that’s not living. That’s just being pushed around by life’s events and your emotions.
In order to combat tactical hell, we must “take an elevated perspective,” Greene says. What does that mean? Zoom out! Remember the big picture. Think about how big life is, and how small your problems in comparison. Consider the long-term view: Will your neighbor really stay angry at you forever because you blocked his driveway once?
Most of the battles you find yourself in aren’t really battles you have to fight. You can disengage. Take a breath when life gets stressful. Write an angry email but don’t send it. Remember your mortality, and think about long-term consequences rather than short-term discomfort. Take these steps, and you’ll rarely get stuck in tactical hell!
The Daily Laws Review
In Simon Sinek’s The Infinite Game, there is an exercise to discover your “Just Cause.” When I did it for Four Minute Books, I realized our larger purpose was this: We want to build a world in which every person reads at least one page a day, and no human, child or adult, is afraid to open any book.
“Read a page, save the day.” That’s the mantra we want you to adopt, and in that sense, The Daily Laws: 366 Meditations on Power, Seduction, Mastery, Strategy, and Human Nature is the perfect tool. Try reading a page a day, and if it doesn’t stick, just flick around to see which laws grab you the most!
Fun fact: Ryan Holiday was Greene’s mentee, and he likely helped him with this book, which is very similar to The Daily Stoic, an equally valuable and easy-to-read book.
Who would I recommend the Daily Laws summary to?
The 33-year-old frustrated project manager who can’t seem to get ahead at his job, the 46-year-old successful painter who’s wondering where next to take her career, and anyone who wants to get an overview of Robert Greene’s work.