48 Laws of Power is a book written by Robert Greene, who has authored other books including 33 Strategies of War and several others.
In this series, I will share my thoughts on each law and how to use them.
Whether you ought to apply the laws is up to you – all I will be doing is exploring the ideas and measuring its pros and cons.
I would recommend you read the book yourself and draw your own conclusions.
Reading never handicapped anyone, it always enriched the reader, and reading this book in particular, is guaranteed to provide you with valuable insights into human nature.
So, lets dive right into it!
What Makes Us Stand Out As Humans?
The features that separate us from animals is that of deception and cunningness. It’s our ability to obfuscate, lie and deceive that puts us at the top of the food chain and inch our way up the social hierarchy.
We engage in lies and deception to obtain power, for everything depends on the acquisition of power. The people you mingle with, the schools your children get admitted into, and the opportunities that come your way – all depend on the power you currently wield or hope to wield some day.
Why is everyone scurrying about for a better job? Why are people starting businesses and investing into stocks, despite the risks it entails?
The better the job, the higher the pay.
The more risks you take, the more opportunities you are exposing yourself to, inadvertently increasing your chances of financial success.
All these tactics translate into more power, as money is what enables a man to put a roof over his head and food on the table, and the more he has, the more roofs he can provide for others to live under, hence increasing his desirability, both in the sexual market as well as societal.
Money = Power, But Not Exactly
Everyone desires power – everyone.
Power dramatically transforms your quality of living which is why many desire it.
But people mistakenly believe that more money leads to more power. This is but partially true, because having a million dollars is not the same as making a million dollars.
Money by itself doesn’t elevate your social status. You are at best, upper middle class if you work at a gold collar job.
A CEO is still a CEO. The highest ranking EMPLOYEE of the company.
To make it without working, is to be rich. Trading time for money is no way to being rich, no matter how high a rung you reside on the corporate ladder.
No doubt, to make it that far is quite the feat, and with it comes the prestige and benefits that will surely elevate your finances and social standing, but you don’t own the company.
You have to show up to work each day whether they be weekends or weekdays and clock in more hours than the average Joe to ensure someone else’s company remains afloat and resilient in the volatile market.
It is a high performance job, but it is still a job.
That being said, not everyone will be invited into the upper management unless they understand the games being played and how to orient oneself to it.
These games are not taught at school. You won’t learn most of the things that will greatly benefit you in the long run at a place you spend more than a decade at, which is why I have taken the effort to write this down for you.
Each law teaches you something about human nature that you can either deny or leverage to your advantage.
Make the right choice, and you will be handsomely rewarded.
I Hate Politics!
The ones who claim they have no interest in acquiring power are the ones you ought to keep an eye on, for they are the most adept at playing the game.
They intentionally portray their supposed lack of interest to diffuse the attention directed towards them. This way, they can engage in subtle tactics that will fall short of notice because he has convinced everyone that he has opted out of the game – when in fact he hasn’t.
In case you do get ahead, the others will view it as dumb luck, and ignore you. That’s the whole point of deception – to hide your fangs and to only bring them out when the need arises.
To remain in power is to become adept at putting on a show. You have to become a master at camouflaging yourself and blend into the environment.
We are generally cautious of those we share little to nothing in common, which is why we instinctively have our guard up.
It is therefore foolish to stand out from the crowd, when your intention is to get them to like you, because to stand out is to place yourself right in the middle of the firing range. You will draw attention, but it won’t be the one you wished for.
Blend In and Observe, Before Anything Else
In the age we live in, violent confrontation is abhorred. Anyone who resorts to violence is viewed as uncultured and condemned to social exile, but the power struggle remains the same. It has switched from physical violence to psychological warfare.
To lead the crowd, one must banter with them first, to map out their interests and fears for therein lies their motives, which are the tools you will use to get the upper hand.
Straightforward individuals tend to protrude their claws every chance they get, foolishly thinking that by doing so they will receive the respect they deserve. All that does is invite resentment and misery, because portraying yourself that way only motivates people to work against you.
Cunningness coupled with patience is what allows us entry into the court of power.
To acquire power, you should sharpen your wit and keep your mouth shut. You will use that wit of yours to pierce into the hearts of those above you – impressing them with your rhetoric, while also using it as a shield to deflect the arrows of criticisms released by your contenders to shoot you down.
How Should I Behave?
I would suggest you speak less than you think you have to, and spend more time letting other speak. People love the sound of their own voice, and when you are attentive, it inflates their egos. You become more likable, not for your opinions, virtues and principles, but by virtue of your perceived compliance.
Keeping your mouth shut grants you the ability to remain invisible. Empty vessels rattle the most and draw unwanted attention that could potentially jeopardize your position and possibly get you killed.
You get people to like you by listening to what they have to say and add onto whatever they discuss. Being attentive goes a long way, than being brash and impudent. People don’t care about truths, they care about what is true for them.
Power is an Aphrodisiac
No matter how powerful you get, it will never satisfy you.
It’s never enough, because there will always be someone out there who is at a higher position of power. To wield power, you have to wield control over your impulses and desires first, because without self-control, power will turn you into a slave.
Power corrupts, and underestimating its effects will be your undoing.
The Game of Gain
It’s a never ending struggle to reach the top and to maintain your position at the top. This pyramid exists in every conceivable sector of our society, as we are competitive by design. Everyone wants to reach the top but few actually get there because the entry to the top is heavily guarded by those who are black belts at deception.
Learning how to play the game will greatly enrich your life for it teaches you how to handle people effectively. This ability will allow you to bring the right people into your life and toss out the rotten ones without them realizing a thing. You are teaching yourself to reap the benefits from whatever situation you get sucked into and to come out unscathed.
Things are the way they are and it’s up to us to either learn to adjust and take part or opt out by becoming complacent and suffer. Your time and sanity are precious resources that can’t ever be bought back, so it is of utmost importance that you carefully assess every decision you make before putting them into action.
If you happen to believe that you’re the type that hates playing with people’s lives and making them dance to the beat of your tune, then rest assured that you won’t have to put any of what you will learn in this series to action. You can instead, learn how to avoid landing into such troublesome situations and glide along without ruffling any features. That in itself is a herculean task, so you better keep your head up or risk having it lobbed off.