Robert Greene’s The Great Disadvantages of Being Smart is a short book about how people can be better off without wealth, happiness, health, and other material possessions. While the tone of the book is somber, I found it very inspiring to read about how Greene felt people should treat themselves instead of wealth, health, and life itself. I also found that Greene, in his own way, gives us an opportunity to take control over our lives and live differently instead of letting circumstances decide our course.
Robert Greene’s The Great Disadvantages of Being Smart is divided into three parts. Part One addresses the disadvantages that are unique to human existence. These include being born with limited means, living your entire life on borrowed money, not having any security, and being unable to create a comfortable living. Greene does not shirk from telling the disadvantages of life; he simply puts them into perspective and teaches how to handle them. For instance, he tells the story of David Bowie, the rock star who came very close to dying several times before he was able to release his greatest songs. Bowie continually reminded people about the likelihood of his death each time he came out with a new album.
Part Two looks at the advantages that we can have by making better use of our intelligence, which includes setting goals and following your passions. Greene points out that most people are content to live a mediocre life because they are not willing to do what it takes to become great. We need to motivate ourselves by overcoming obstacles and taking deliberate action to achieve our goals. He further states that we would have a much better world if all of us took the steps necessary to make it that way.
Part Three deals with setting goals and following your passions through to their fullest potential. Again, Greene does not shirk from telling you what obstacles are standing in your way to reaching your goal, as he repeatedly emphasizes that there would be no life without suffering. However, he also shows you that with the proper motivation and fortitude you can overcome almost anything with the right amount of effort and persistence.
Finally, Part Four is about what we would have to give up in order to have a truly great life. Robert Greene clearly states that we should not give our children more than their fair share by giving them the best education possible, which may be hard for some parents to do. He also argues that for some of us giving up our freedom is a necessity, since we have to make a living. Giving up some of our freedom would help us create a better world for our children in the future.
The author’s credibility as an author cannot be questioned. Robert Greene has written forty-some books, including several best-sellers. He has a reputation for presenting complex ideas in simple, clear language. This book is no exception. Once you finish this book, you will understand some of your problems and concerns about life in a different way. You will discover a different perspective on many situations, and you will begin to see the good that life has to offer.