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The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene book review: Part I


The Webster’s dictionary for power is one’s “ability to act or produce an effect” or “possession of control, authority, or influence over others,” and what the 48 laws of power gives us is a law by law formula to gain such attributes as mentioned in its definition. Why would someone want power? Power is innate in us to desire but not in the ways of ruling over others but of the ways of ruling over ourselves. The 48 laws of power are not about gaining strength over other individuals but of mastering ourselves in order to dictate the effects that happen in our lives. I truly believe, no wants to be a victim or feel powerless to circumstances and life, so author Robert Greene created a set of laws that we will go over one by one, in order for the average person to master themselves, which will master the effects to master our own life’s situations. Since there are 48 laws, we break this book into 6 articles, so we can elaborate each lawfully to gather its importance and how can start utilizing them today. Just keep in mind that the laws are not made for the trivial person, who wants to read for a good time or for intellectual purpose, but for the man or woman who is truly looking to be the captain of their journey called life.


Article 1: Law 1–8

Article 2: Law 9–16

Article 3: Law 17–24

Article 4: Law 25–32

Article 5: Law 33–40

Article 6: Law 41–48


Law 1: Never outshine the master

Insecurity is a natural state of mind, to be unsure of job security, unsure of our own abilities or unsure that there isn’t someone more qualified to do this work. These are all natural feelings, but the point is not to let these feelings overtake you into a realm of negative thoughts and behaviors. Unfortunately, the opposite is just as dangerous, being too sure of yourself plus emitting too much confidence will make the insecure uncomfortable especially if this person is your boss, employer, lead, spouse, instructor, teacher or parent.


This person wants to see you as a subordinate, not an equal and especially not anything above them. I have a quote I like to use, “Everyone wants to see you do good, just not better in them.” It stirs resentment and jealousy, when someone thinks they are being outshined they will do their best consciously or unconsciously, to get rid of you. Nobody really wants competition and if you could make them feel like there is, they will go about slandering your name, make you the scapegoat of a mistake, drag your name through the mud, fire you, send you away, put you at a lower position or like the kings of old, will throw you in a dungeon or a public beheading. Making the top feel less will always cause friction and conflict between you and those above you.


What is the solution? To tone down your great qualities, if you are naturally talented, gifted, good looking or confident, do your best to hide it around your the higher-ups and only do things that make them look good and you look not as good. Be subtle, talk lower, dim your light in order to make others with not so fluorescent light outshine you. You can do this be praises them, feeding their egos, do work and say it was their ideas, dedicate something to them, talk about your false while accentuating their good qualities. Be an outstanding number two while making sure that they feel like number one. Don’t believe by showing off, being lovable, being authoritative or taking the bull by the horns will gain your favorite of your bosses and teachers because all they want is someone to do their bidding while they remain on the throne and anyone that may threaten this has to be eliminated.


I have made the mistake of using my charm, drive, go-getter attitude and work ethic at the office or workspace, thinking that it would gain me favor from those above me, but to make astonishment the opposite happened, i was seen as too perfect which disgusted my employer who in return made my life miserable so he could re-established his dominance of I am the boss you are the employee! Even remembered a client mistaken me for the manager which create steam in my manager’s collar, he needed to feel secure in his job, so he gave me unfavorable reviews even though the clients loved me. This still goes on today and in every business, so even if you know you are great, dim the light so you do not accidentally, outshine someone that is important to the development of your goals. Just wait and be patient, an opportunity will come for you to take over, but it has to be done subtle and an unpredictable way, so they can’t see you coming to stop your growth.


Law 2: Never put too much trust in friends, learn to use enemies

The old adage of “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” is not just a cliche statement but is loaded with significance. In the pursuit of a goal, a lifestyle, a dream or to power, having friends is a great luxury, they help remind us keep our humility, remember where we came from and even people we know we can trust, but at the same time they can be the downfall of your empire, the monkey wrench in your gears or the breaks in your vehicle. They can be your great asset or highest liability. In the game of power, you must keep certain friends at bay, do not let them get in to close to the inner workings of your business, your plans or your goal, or they may use it to destroy everything you have worked for.


In the book, the author gives an illustration of a king that was friends with a young stable boy that he cared for and believed he could trust. Thinking the boy was in such a low status that he would be harmless which will be beneficial to the king. Years when by as the stable boy gain more power, allies, capital and resources as his responsibilities increase. Even the king did not realize how much power the young man had gain over the years, and as his stock grew so did his contempt for the king. People do not want to feel like they have rides coattails or were handed their prominence, they want to feel as if they earned everything they have even if it was through favors. The king began to order the man around, now head of the army but realized the look in the man’s eye were not of a grateful friend but of a person plotting for thing kings spot. The king believed in this young man, up to the point his head ended up on a pike.


The lesson is simple, with friends always watch their mannerisms, their body language, how do they feel about us really and are they jealous in some sort of way or have we given them so much that they are starting to become resentful? This will happen, as I had close friends, loved me as we were on the same status, but I continuously see the sly looks, or hear the slick comments as they left. They started to become cold with me as if I did not deserve my good fortune or I was starting to look better than them and it was unbarble for the simple fact that I started off much worse. “It’s the ones that are closest to you that can hurt you the most.” It is almost better for a goal or business ventor to use strangers or old enemies. They will work harder to prove their loyalty while a friend will feel it is just a given. I had a friend who highered a friend, but this friend kept slacking off and not showing up for work, but when he hired someone that wasn’t close to him, they did an amazing job even moving up in his company. Keep friends for friend things, drinking, partying, social events or dinners and keep your business and your pursuit to power for those who have the skills and ability to help launch your dream and not the ability to pull on your heartstrings to get you distracted.


Law 3: Conceal your intentions

Certain things should always be close to the chest, if everyone knows what you are planning, they can cut you off at the pass, belittle your ideas or even sabotage you, but what they don’t know won’t hurt you in the long run. Human beings have the great habit of talking too much, saying every little thought in their mind out loud as if it was the most introspective thought ever to manifest. Unfortunately, all we are doing is making ourselves a target for those who rather still ideas than work hard for their own, creating enemies that we did not know we had, producing an air of boredom with no room for surprises or just plan talking people’s ears off that do not care about our goals in any shape or fashion. It is better to keep some mystery about you, especially if it’s the pursuit of power.


In a sports game, the coach likes to hide his plays or lineups until the start of the game, why? Because he does not want his game plans leaked to the media or to the opposing team. If nobody knows what plays are going to be run, then there can not be a plan to defend it. The idea is that many people want you to succeed but only up to a certain level, so if the competition realizes your aims are lofty they will act or react in a way that will stop your expensive because they don’t want to be eclipsed by you.


Keep your intentions concealed gives us power because it creates an air of mystery, where people can not put their finger on what we are thinking. The best way to create this aire is what the author relayed is to give false gestures, reveal something about yourself that takes the wolves off the scent, give a fabricated intention, like “yes I am just happy to be in this position,” while in your mind aiming for the presidential chair. Do not let the world know what you are planning and they will never have a defence against it. This is not lying, just omitting a powerful truth about yourself, this will keep the opposition relaxed while you are bit by bit planning to take over the whole show.


Law 4: Always say less than necessary

In thinking about the most stoic and prominent individuals who live today or from the past we can see that they did not have diarrhea of the mouth, but quite the opposite. They stayed poised through any situations by not revealing all that they were thinking, just enough to get the point across and enough to keep people statisfield. The silence is powerful, the more a person talks, the more they reveal and the more ordinary they seem. “The more you say; the more you are apt to say something foolish,” the author states firmly. Power lies in the mysteries of life, what people can pin down they tend to admire and praise. To be considered bigger than life, you must say less than necessary.


The author illustrates the story of Louis XIV, that he had the back of saying less than necessary, which controlled and intimidated the courturors of the court. They would approach Louis very delectedly, in order not to ever offend him and talk to him about politics and issues happening in the kingdom. When they requested a decision be made or a question answered, Louis would simply answer, “We shall see.” A quick term that was too the point and not filled with mindless chatter. This would always keep the courterors on edge because they did not know which side of the question the king was leaning on. This gave him an air of mystery, which kept enemies and plotters at pay, because they never knew what to expect, except a quick unwavering answer.


In life, we tend to want to fill up the air with chatter, believing the more we say the more intelligent we look, but quite the opposite is true. Words are thoughts given while thoughts are ideas expressed. When you say less, people do not know what you are thinking and in just this realization it automatically causes fear to those around you. “What is he or she thinking?” Nobody knows reach creates an allure of massive power. This is the appeal of the strong silent types, the John Wayne’s or James Deans of the world. It is the skills to not say much, so what we do speak it is always impactful, because it is something that rarely happens. Use your speech wisely and you will see people come to you for advice, opportunities, pleasures and wisdom when you only speak as it becomes necessary to do so.


Law 5: So much depends on reputation — guard it with your life

In the realm of business and employment, your reputation is paramount in what job and client opportunities you will receive, how people review you in the industry and how large your status will be in the community. Our reputation is everything, either good or bad. People are creatures of habit, which is why many times are aim is to label an individual so we can keep our ideas about them in a box. This is not always a positive aspect but this must be considered in the ways of branding, Your brand becomes your reputation and your reputation is what will open doors for you in certain circles.


If a client knows that your reputation is the most skilled in the industry than you will have constant opportunities all over knocking on your front door, but if your reputation is that you haven’t cheated others in the past, than this will also follow you leaving you will a bad taste in the industries and potential customers mouth. This is why your reputation must be guarded at all cost to make sure you follow the ideas about you, because reality is about perception and if you are perceived as the best you will be treated just as so. If you have a good reputation you must not let anything sully it or have any dramatic changes. Meaning if you are known as a honest person but yet a scandal comes out that you have embezzled thousands of dollars from your company, this will be a frown on your character which will induce people to question your old honest reputation.


Your reputation is key. How many times have we loved a celebrity that we have shaped into an image just for them to break this image and ruin their careers? Child show host found in compromising positions or athletes on drugs. This hurts us because we believed them to be a certain way just to find out they were not, its like being lied to or made to distrust. Once distrust sets in there are no way to retrieve it back. We must dictate our own reputations and only expose the attributes that we want people to see and hide those that we don’t or eradicate the bad habits that will ruin or reputation. Also, keep a reputation that you can honestly keep up, it is too exhausting to fake all the time, you must find who you really are and keep that idea fixed in your mind and in the public eye.


Law 6: Court attention at all cost

“The only way to get out of obscurity is attention.”-Grant Cardone. Attention is very valuable if you are looking to make waves in a calling, an industry, a business or even courting a opposite sex, because if they don’t know you, they can not buy from, support, employ or be with you. The only way for anyone to be in your presence is by knowing who you are and for them to know who you are you need their attention. This could be done by large gestures or extravagant spectacles, either way for people to want to get to know you, they have to know who you are.


The author illustrates the story of PT Barnum form Barnum & Bailey Circus who would make extravagant spectacles to gain massive attention from the outside world. He would even embrace bad press because he philosophy was, “It is better to have bad press than no press at all,” so much he would send free tickets to editors who would write poor reviews about his show and invite them to the best seats in the house. He knew if he could get people murmuring and talking about him, that he would remain on people’s radar and the more he was in the public eye for whatever reason, they more attention he got and the more money he made.


In the days of social media and constant bombardment of entertainment, news and blog posts, how is it possible to gain and more importantly keep attention. This is by gaining the attention at all cost, by saying something controversial, being consistent in being in the public eye, give them reasons to talk about you, create events and shows that will bring people to you. Our job in being entrepreneurs is to scale businesses and we can do this by marketing. Understand though marketing is not just a commercial or the request for sale, it is creating a story behind the marketing, to bring forth the imagination of people, their fear in the mysterious or unknown or planning to do things that will offend others. Either way if they are talking about you, you are on their minds and if you are on their minds you can convert them into profits plus recognition. Keep yourself on the mind of your potential clients, person you are pursuing or marketplace and you will become the itch that they can’t scratch or they food that they can’t digest, you just linger and good or bad you have gain and retain their attention. This is how Donald J Trump built his empire, neither to say he doesn’t care if it’s negative or positive exposure, as long as it is exposure.


Law 7: Let others do the work for you, but always take credit

History has proven that it’s not who discovers, invents or finds a particular staple but who takes the credit for it. It is known that Vikings journey through the Americas and Native Americans were homed on this great land way before 1792 but Christopher Columbus was the only one who officially claimed the grounds, U.S. citizens walk on. Even though others may have done the majority of the work in figuring out agriculture and climate that was taught to the colonists but it was the colonists who proclaimed and conquered. In your job or workforce, you may have a team that is the brains of the operation but the praise goes to the face of the company, the manager of the department or the person that stole the idea and presented it first.


Either way, the point is clear, that is not the discoverer but the who takes the credit. The author brings the point of Nikola Tesla, who has done more to change the technology than any other inventor who ever lived but had the least to show for it upon his death. Even in american history, more is made of Thomas Edison than ever Nikola Tesla, even though we use more of his technology today. Thomas Edison was not just an inventor but a capitalist and businessman who knew the advantages of taking the credit first so people would see him as the genius even though he was helped in many of his inventions. If a man or woman is looking to climb the ladder in power they must take the credit, even though it may have been a team members idea or a person on your staff insite, it is you who have to been seen as the genius or people will forget you and attached the legacy to another.


Law 8: Make other people come to you — use bait if necessary

Power always lies in the person being pursued not pursuer. When others are coming to you, it gives us a large advantage because it makes look exclusive, hard to reach, hard to get and helps place us on a pedestal that others are eager to climb, while the one that is chasing has to exert energy, which does not display power but weakness. If you are looking for a partnership with someone above your station, pursuing a person out of your league or even trying to get clients, find a way to get them to come to you versus you constantly advancing towards them.


If you have opposition, a competitor or someone that you know deliberately wants to take you down, do your best not to act on emotion, but to make them act on emotions first. You can plant others to say something knowing it will stir them up or set the trap that you know they will enter since they are so eager to take you down. This is very potent in sports and business. Many boxers will tire the opponent out by talking trash, angering them out of their technique and strategy while you remain calm to strike. Some people will put out false ads about you and your company, slandering your name. This is not the type to get upset, but to remain stoic, play as if it was not a big deal while placing your own rumors of your own. Moreover, you can make them feel like the coast is clear, that you take no harm to their comments, so they feel confident to advance on you while you are setting up their demise. You make them move, while you wait with the fly swatter for them to land in a vulnerable spot.


Thank you for being apart of the Power of Self Book Club! Reviewed by Rich Fontaine. If you are interested in this book, click the link below and order a copy today! If you order directly from my website www.powerofselfent.com/shop. I will throw in my highlighted notes and specialty bookmarks for Free! Plus a chance to be in our exclusive business mastermind group for free! Seats are limited.


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