48 LAWS OF POWER LIST
Welcome to this 48 laws of power list, a list of the 48 laws of power by Robert Greene.
The feeling of having no power over people and events is hard to bear: powerlessness makes you unhappy. No one wants less power, everyone wants more’.
If Power had its Laws, what would they be?
This is the question that Robert Greene proposes to answer in The 48 Laws of Power, a best-seller that sold over 2 million copies.
A veritable manual of manipulation, The 48 Laws of Power analyzes the quintessence of this age-old wisdom, drawn from the lives and works of the most illustrious strategists (Sun Tzu, Clausewitz), statesmen (Caesar, Louis XIV, Bismarck, Talleyrand), courtiers (Castiglione, Gracián), seducers (Ninon de Lenclos, Casanova) and swindlers of history.
Amoral, intelligent, ruthless and captivating, this colossal work condenses 3,000 years of the history of power into 48 laws.
What a Herculean work to condense 3000 years of History and to manage to set to music all these powerful people who illustrate each of the laws: Cleopatra, Caesar, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Bismarck, Casanova, Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, …
Robert Greene connects with a golden thread all these powerful people, however from different times and places, and gives them life. He dissects their power strategies, their successes and failures, shows how the reader can in turn be inspired by them, and sets out the 48 Laws for excelling in power games.
The book is dense but accessible; examples abound, as do quotations. Halfway between the work of a historian and that of a psychologist, Robert Greene explores all facets of human nature.
What are these laws?
Give your enemies no possibility of negotiation, no hope, no room for maneuver. Just crush them.”
It would be futile to try to summarize its laws, but we can retain that according to Robert Greene, power rests on our capacity to control ourselves, not to let our emotions show, to remain fluid, elusive, and unpredictable, not to take sides. It also resides in our capacity to exploit the weaknesses of the other, therefore to spot them, to listen, to court.
Power requires the ability to play with appearances. Deception and masquerade should not be seen as ugly or immoral. All human interaction requires deception on many levels, and in some ways what separates humans from animals is our ability to lie and deceive. Power is essentially amoral and one of the most important skills to acquire is the ability to see circumstances rather than good or evil.
Power is a social game. To learn and master it, you must develop the ability to study and understand people. As the great seventeenth-century thinker and courtier Baltasar Gracián wrote: “Many people spend time studying the properties of animals or herbs; how much more important it would be to study those of people, with whom we must live or die!” To be a master player you must also be a master psychologist.
48 LAWS OF POWER LIST: LAW 1: NEVER OUTSHINE THE MASTER
Never overshadow those who are more powerful than you. He or she may feel threatened and become your main detractor, dashing your hopes for progress.
LAW 2: NEVER PUT TOO MUCH TRUST IN FRIENDS, LEARN HOW TO USE ENEMIES
Avoid recruiting one of your friends Deep down inside, he will feel indebted to you, which can hurt his pride, feed his resentment and get you into trouble.
LAW 3: CONCEAL YOUR INTENTIONS
Disguise your intentions. Displaying your pretensions will stir up the jealousy of your competitors, or even your supervisor if he feels threatened, and will unite them against you.
LAW 4: ALWAYS SAY LESS THAN NECESSARY
Speak little. The more you express yourself, the more you expose yourself.
Oysters open completely when the moon is full; and when the crab sees one it throws a piece of stone or seaweed into it and the oyster cannot close again so that it serves the crab for meat. Such is the fate of him who opens his mouth too much and thereby puts himself at the mercy of the listener. Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519
48 LAWS OF POWER LIST: LAW 5: SO MUCH DEPENDS ON REPUTATION—GUARD IT WITH YOUR LIFE
Defend your reputation at all costs, but don’t hesitate to damage your opponents’ reputation. With a positive image, everything is much easier. So keep your personal branding under constant control, because as Warren Buffet says, “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to destroy it. “That’s why it’s good to damage the reputation of your opponents…
LAW 6: COURT ATTENTION AT ALL COST
Be visible. You need to attract the attention of someone more powerful than you because your ascension depends on it. Be careful however not to go too far and to overshadow your “protector” as explained in law 1 because you would immediately sign your loss.
LAW 7: GET OTHERS TO DO THE WORK FOR YOU, BUT ALWAYS TAKE THE CREDIT
Learn to delegate while reaping the fruits of your labor.
The objective is to focus only on what others can’t do for you. This will allow you to increase your efficiency and speed. In addition, you will become an excellent manager capable of motivating his teams until the success of the project.
LAW 8: MAKE OTHER PEOPLE COME TO YOU—USE BAIT IF NECESSARY
Take the initiative because when you force the other person to act, you are the one in control. It is always better to make your opponent come to you, abandoning his own plans in the process. Lure him with fabulous gains—then attack. You hold the cards. This will put your competitors in a reactive situation and eventually exhaust them.
LAW 9: WIN THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS, NEVER THROUGH ARGUMENT
Don’t just talk the talk, act the walk. Raising your voice will never make you triumph. You will only stir up your opponent’s resentment.
48 LAWS OF POWER LIST: Law 10: INFECTION: AVOID THE UNHAPPY AND UNLUCKY
Conversely, you have to take the wheel of those who succeed. As you’re in contact with talented people, you will acquire by mimicry some of their qualities and progress.
Law 11: LEARN TO KEEP PEOPLE DEPENDENT ON YOU
If you have unique knowledge, never share it. You will thus place your entourage in a state of dependency, your best protection. To maintain your independence you must always be needed and wanted. The more you are relied on, the more freedom you have. Make people depend on you for their happiness and prosperity and you have nothing to fear. Never teach them enough so that they can do without you.
Law 12: USE SELECTIVE HONESTY AND GENEROSITY TO DISARM YOUR VICTIM
Show a front of probity and generosity. These positive values will enable you to acquire and maintain an excellent reputation (cf law n°5).
Law 13: WHEN ASKING FOR HELP, APPEAL TO PEOPLE’S SELF INTEREST, NEVER TO THEIR MERCY OR GRATITUDE
Base your alliances on interest. The loyalty of your allies will be all the more robust as they will find a personal interest in collaborating with you. If you need to turn to an ally for help, do not bother to remind him of your past assistance and good deeds. He will find a way to ignore you. Instead, uncover something in your request, or in your alliance with him, that will benefit him, and emphasize it out of all proportion. He will respond enthusiastically when he sees something to be gained for himself.
Law 14: POSE AS A FRIEND, WORK AS A SPY
Get to know your opponent. Watch and listen. You will thus identify the main character traits of your competitor and in particular his weaknesses, your best angle of attack (cf law n°33).
48 LAWS OF POWER LIST: Law 15: CRUSH YOUR ENEMY TOTALLY
Be ruthless. Don’t risk a half victory. If he is not totally annihilated, your opponent will have only one obsession: revenge.
Law 16: USE ABSENCE TO INCREASE RESPECT AND HONOR
Make yourself desired. Rarity will increase your value.
As Napoleon Bonaparte, 1769-1821 noticed: ” If I am often seen at the theater, people will cease to notice me.”
Law 17: KEEP OTHERS IN SUSPENDED TERROR: CULTIVATE AN AIR OF UNPREDICTABILITY
You will thus destabilize your opponents. Humans are creatures of habit with an insatiable need to see familiarity in other people’s actions. Your predictability gives them a sense of control. Turn the tables: Be deliberately unpredictable. Behavior that seems to have no consistency or purpose will keep them off-balance, and they will wear themselves out trying to explain your moves. Taken to an extreme, this strategy can intimidate and terrorize.
Law 18: DO NOT BUILD FORTRESSES TO PROTECT YOURSELF— ISOLATION IS DANGEROUS
In short, don’t be a loner. Isolation will make you vulnerable.
Law 19: KNOW WHO YOU’RE DEALING WITH—DO NOT OFFEND THE WRONG PERSON
Choose your victims and opponents carefully. Deceive or outmaneuver some people and they will spend the rest of their lives seeking revenge.
48 LAWS OF POWER LIST: Law 20: DO NOT COMMIT TO ANYONE
Don’t take sides. Neutrality is the surest way to maintain one’s position during a change of regime. It is the fool who always rushes to take sides. Do not commit to any side or cause but yourself. By maintaining your independence, you become the master of others—playing people against one another, making them pursue you.
Law 21: PLAY A SUCKER TO CATCH A SUCKER—SEEM DUMBER THAN YOUR MARK
Praise the intelligence of your opponents. Few can resist the compliments. Their fatuity will often lead them to lower their guard.
Law 22: USE THE SURRENDER TACTIC: TRANSFORM WEAKNESS INTO POWER
Know how to surrender. In front of an opponent more powerful than you, show remorse and wait for a possible turnaround. When you are weaker, never fight for honor’s sake; choose surrender instead. Surrender gives you time to recover, time to torment and irritate your conqueror, time to wait for his power to wane. Do not give him the satisfaction of fighting and defeating you—surrender first. By turning the other cheek you infuriate and unsettle him. Make surrender a tool of power.
Law 23: CONCENTRATE YOUR FORCES
Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point. You gain more by finding a rich mine and mining it deeper, than by flitting from one shallow mine to another—intensity defeats extensity every time. When looking for sources of power to elevate you, find the one key patron, the fat cow who will give you milk for a long time to come.
Set yourself a single goal and put all your energy into achieving it.
Law 24: PLAY THE PERFECT COURTIER
Be inspired by the courtiers, past and present.
This model has proven itself.
48 LAWS OF POWER LIST: Law 25: RECREATE YOURSELF
Think outside the box. Make your personality attract the favors of those around you. Do not accept the roles that society foists on you. Re-create yourself by forging a new identity, one that commands attention and never bores the audience. Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define it for you. Incorporate dramatic devices into your public gestures and actions— your power will be enhanced and your character will seem larger than life.
Law 26: KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN
Never get your hands dirty. Use a third party to do any low-level work. It will be the ideal fuse when danger approaches.
Law 27: PLAY ON PEOPLE’S NEED TO BELIEVE TO CREATE A CULT LIKE FOLLOWING
People have an overwhelming desire to believe in something. Become the focal point of such desire by offering them a cause, a new faith to follow. Keep your words vague but full of promise; emphasize enthusiasm over rationality and clear thinking. Give your new disciples rituals to perform, ask them to make sacrifices on your behalf. In the absence of organized religion and grand causes, your new belief system will bring you untold power.
Become a “master thinker”.
Objective: to annihilate the critical sense of your entourage in order to better manipulate it.
Law 28: ENTER ACTION WITH BOLDNESS
Bluffing. Credulity is often proportional to the degree of deception.
Law 29: PLAN ALL THE WAY TO THE END
Prepare your plan of attack meticulously
Don’t leave anything to chance: anticipate every move until you win.
48 LAWS OF POWER LIST: Law 30: MAKE YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS SEEM EFFORTLESS
In other words, give the impression of accomplishing your tasks with ease.
The laborious one does not have good press in the company. Your actions must seem natural and executed with ease. All the toil and practice that go into them, and also all the clever tricks, must be concealed. When you act, act effortlessly, as if you could do much more. Avoid the temptation of revealing how hard you work—it only raises questions. Teach no one your tricks or they will be used against you.
Law 31: CONTROL THE OPTIONS: GET OTHERS TO PLAY WITH THE CARDS YOU DEAL
Just like in chess, give your opponent the illusion that he is in control of the situation. The best deceptions are the ones that seem to give the other person a choice: Your victims feel they are in control, but are actually your puppets. Give people options that come out in your favor whichever one they choose. Force them to make choices between the lesser of two evils, both of which serve your purpose. Put them on the horns of a dilemma: They are gored wherever they turn.
Law 32: PLAY TO PEOPLE’S FANTASIES
Find the words to re-enchant the world. You will charm your audience. “The truth is often avoided because it is ugly and unpleasant. Never appeal to truth and reality unless you are prepared for the anger that comes from disenchantment. Life is so harsh and distressing that people who can manufacture romance or conjure up fantasy are like oases in the desert: Everyone flocks to them. There is great power in tapping into the fantasies of the masses.”
Law 33: DISCOVER EACH MAN’S THUMBSCREW
Hit your opponent at his weakest point. “Everyone has a weakness, a gap in the castle wall. That weakness is usually an insecurity, an uncontrollable emotion or need; it can also be a small secret pleasure. Either way, once found, it is a thumbscrew you can turn to your advantage”.
Law 34: BE ROYAL IN YOUR OWN FASHION: ACT LIKE A KING TO BE TREATED LIKE ONE
Be confident. Your confidence will reassure those around you.
48 LAWS OF POWER LIST: Law 35: MASTER THE ART OF TIMING
Never act in haste. This could be interpreted as a lack of composure.
Law 36: DISDAIN THINGS YOU CANNOT HAVE: IGNORING THEM IS THE BEST REVENGE
Ignore petty pettiness. You will thus testify to your strength of character.
Law 37: CREATE COMPELLING SPECTACLES
Show yourself off. Similar to law 6: COURT ATTENTION AT ALL COST.
Law 38: THINK AS YOU LIKE BUT BEHAVE LIKE OTHERS
Stay within the standard. By systematically seeking to transgress company codes you risk getting marginalized.
Law 39: STIR UP WATERS TO CATCH FISH
Display a steely mind. Stay calm under all circumstances, especially if your opponent gets out of hand.
48 LAWS OF POWER LIST: Law 40: DESPISE THE FREE LUNCH
Reward. This is one of the surest ways to build loyalty. What is offered for free is dangerous-it usually involves either a trick or a hidden obligation. What is worth is worth paying for. By paying your own way you stay clear of gratitude, guilt, and deceit. It is also often wise to pay the full price—there is no cutting corners with excellence. Be lavish with your money and keep it circulating, for generosity is a sign and a magnet for power.
Law 41: AVOID STEPPING INTO A GREAT MAN’S SHOES
Innovate. Was your predecessor particularly appreciated? Then there’s no need to try to imitate him. If you play the little game of comparison, you’ll come out a loser.
Law 42: STRIKE THE SHEPHERD AND THE SHEEP WILL SCATTER
Target the leader of the opposition. By confronting him, you will destabilize the entire chain of opponents.
Law 43: WORK ON THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF OTHERS
Opt for seduction rather than coercion. Cf law 21: play a sucker to catch a sucker—seem dumber than your mark.
Law 44: DISARM AND INFURIATE WITH THE MIRROR EFFECT
The mirror reflects reality, but it is also the perfect tool for deception: When you mirror your enemies, doing exactly as they do, they cannot figure out your strategy. The Mirror Effect mocks and humiliates them, making them overreact. By holding up a mirror to their psyches, you seduce them with the illusion that you share their values; by holding up a mirror to their actions, you teach them a lesson. Few can resist the power of the Mirror Effect.
Therefore, you should monkey your opponents. This type of provocation should lead your competitors to get out of their hinges (cf law n°39).
48 LAWS OF POWER LIST: Law 45: PREACH THE NEED FOR CHANGE, BUT NEVER REFORM TOO MUCH AT ONCE
If you have to carry out a major reform, keep in mind that change is often stressful for the person undergoing it. So take a step-by-step approach to avoid exacerbating opposition and destroying your chances of success.
Law 46: NEVER APPEAR TOO PERFECT
Post a few minor flaws. You will thus defuse the jealousy of your entourage. Appearing better than others is always dangerous, but most dangerous of all is to appear to have no faults or weaknesses. Envy creates silent enemies. It is smart to occasionally display defects, and admit to harmless vices, in order to deflect envy and appear more human and approachable. Only gods and the dead can seem perfect with impunity.
Law 47: DO NOT GO PAST THE MARK YOU AIMED FOR; IN VICTORY, LEARN WHEN TO STOP
Don’t try to exceed the goal you have set for yourself. The euphoria of victory can cloud your judgment. So remember the myth of Icarus: all to his delight to fly, the son of Daedalus forgets his primary goal – to flee the labyrinth in which Minos had locked him up – and gets dangerously close to the sun. As a result, the melting of his wings precipitates him into the sea, which swallows him up.
Law 48: ASSUME FORMLESSNESS
Show adaptability. “In martial arts, it is important that strategy be unfathomable, that form be concealed, and that movements be unexpected, so that preparedness against them be impossible.”
Objective: to confuse the opponent and increase his vulnerability.
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