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NEVER OUTSHINE THE MASTER
Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please and impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the opposite--inspire fear and insecurity. Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power.
TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW
Nicolas Fouquet, Louis XIV's finance minister in the first years of his reign, was a generous man who loved lavish parties, pretty women, and poetry. He also loved money, for he led an extravagant lifestyle. Fouquet was clever and very much indispensable to the king, so when the prime minister, Jules Mazarin, died, in 1661, the finance minister expected to be named the successor. Instead, the king decided to abolish the position. This and other signs made Fouquet suspect that he was falling out of favor, and so he decided to ingratiate himself with the king by staging the most spectacular party the world had ever seen. The party's ostensible purpose would be to commemorate the completion of Fouquet's chateau, Vaux-le- Vicomte, but its real function was to pay tribute to the king, the guest of honor.
The most brilliant nobility of Europe and some of the greatest minds of the time--La Fontaine, La Rochefoucauld, Madame de Sevigne --attended the party. Moliere wrote a play for the occasion, in which he himself was to perform at the evening's conclusion. The party began with a lavish seven-course dinner, featuring foods from the Orient never before tasted in France, aswell as new dishes created especially for the night. The meal was accompanied with music commissioned by Fouquet to honor the king.
After dinner there was a promenade through the chateau's gardens. The grounds and fountains of Vaux-le-Vicomte were to be the inspiration for Versailles.
Fouquet personally accompanied the young king through the geometrically aligned arrangements of shrubbery and flower beds. Arriving at the gardens' canals, they witnessed a fireworks display, which was followed by the performance of Moliere's play. The party ran well into the night and everyone agreed it was the most amazing affair they had ever attended.
The next day, Fouquet was arrested by the king's head musketeer, D'Artagnan. Three months later he went on trial for stealing from the country's treasury. (Actually, most of the stealing he was accused of he had done on the king's behalf and with the king's permission.) Fouquet was found guilty and sent to the most isolated prison in France, high in the Pyrenees Mountains, where he spent the last twenty years of his life in solitary confinement.
Louis XIV, the Sun King, was a proud and arrogant man who wanted to be the center of attention at all times; he could not countenance being outdone in lavishness by anyone, and certainly not his finance minister. To succeed Fouquet, Louis chose Jean-Baptiste Colbert, a man famous for his parsimony and for giving the dullest parties in Paris. Colbert made sure that any money liberated from the treasury went straight into Louis's hands. With the money, Louis built a palace even more magnificent than Fouquet's--the glorious palace of Versailles. He used the same architects, decorators, and garden designer. And at Versailles, Louis hosted parties even more extravagant than the one that cost Fouquet his freedom.
Let us examine the situation. The evening of the party, as Fouquet presented spectacle on spectacle to Louis, each more magnificent than the one before, he imagined the affair as demonstrating his loyalty and devotion to the king. Not only did he think the party would put him back in the king's favor, he thought it would show his good taste, his connections, and his popularity, making him indispensable to the king and demonstrating that he would make an excellent prime minister. Instead, however, each new spectacle, each appreciative smile bestowed by the guests on Fouquet, made it seem to Louis that his own friends and subjects were more charmed by the finance minister than by the king himself, and that Fouquet was actually flaunting his wealth and power. Rather than flattering Louis XIV, Fouquet's elaborate party offended the king's vanity. Louis would not admit this to anyone, of course--instead, he found a convenient excuse to rid himself of a man who had inadvertently made him feel insecure.
Such is the fate, in some form or other, of all those who unbalance the master's sense of self, poke holes in his vanity, or make him doubt his preeminence.
OBSERVANCE OF THE LAW
In the early 1600s, the Italian astronomer and mathematician Galileo found himself in a precarious position. He depended on the generosity of great rulers to support his research, and so, like all Renaissance scientists, he would sometimes make gifts of his inventions and discoveries to the leading patrons of the time. Once, for instance, he presented a military compass he had invented to the Duke of Gonzaga. Then he dedicated a book explaining the use of the compass to the Medicis. Both rulers were grateful, and through them Galileo was able to find more students to teach. No matter how great the discovery, however, his patrons usually paid him with gifts, not cash. This made for a life of constant insecurity and dependence. There must be an easier way, he thought.
Galileo hit on a new strategy in 1610, when he discovered the moons of Jupiter. Instead of dividing the discovery among his patrons--giving one the telescope he had used, dedicating a book to another, and so on--as he had done in the past, he decided to focus exclusively on the Medicis. He chose the Medicis for one reason: Shortly after Cosimo I had established the Medici dynasty, in 1540, he had made Jupiter, the mightiest of the gods, the Medici symbol--a symbol of a power that went beyond politics and banking, one linked to ancient Rome and its divinities.
Galileo turned his discovery of Jupiter's moons into a cosmic event honoring the Medicis' greatness. Shortly after the discovery, he announced that "the bright stars [the moons of Jupiter] offered themselves in the heavens" to his telescope at the same time as Cosimo II's enthronement. He said that the number of the moons--four--harmonized with the number of the Medicis (Cosimo II had three brothers) and that the moons orbited Jupiter as these four sons revolved around Cosimo I, the dynasty's founder. More than coincidence, this showed that the heavens themselves reflected the ascendancy of the Medici family. After he dedicated the discovery to the Medicis, Galileo commissioned an emblem representing Jupiter sitting on a cloud with the four stars circling about him, and presented this to Cosimo II as a symbol of his link to the stars.
In 1610 Cosimo II made Galileo his official court philosopher and mathematician, with a full salary. For a scientist this was the coup of a lifetime. The days of begging for patronage were over.
In one stroke, Galileo gained more with his new strategy than he had in years of begging. The reason is simple: All masters want to appear more brilliant than other people.
They do not care about science or empirical truth or the latest invention; they care about their name and their glory. Galileo gave the Medicis infinitely more glory by linking their name with cosmic forces than he had by making them the patrons of some new scientific gadget or discovery.
Scientists are not spared the vagaries of court life and patronage. They too must serve masters who hold the purse strings. And their great intellectual powers can make the master feel insecure, as if he were only there to supply the funds--an ugly, ignoble job. The producer of a great work wants to feel he is more than just the provider of the financing. He wants to appear creative and powerful, and also more important than the work produced in his name. Instead of insecurity you must give him glory. Galileo did not challenge the intellectual authority of the Medicis with his discovery, or make them feel inferior in any way; by literally aligning them with the stars, he made them shine brilliantly among the courts of Italy. He did not outshine the master, he made the master outshine all others.
KEYS TO POWER
Everyone has insecurities. When you show yourself in the world and display your talents, you naturally stir up all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity. This is to be expected. You cannot spend your life worrying about the petty feelings of others. With those above you, however, you must take a different approach: When it comes to power, outshining the master is perhaps the worst mistake of all.
Do not fool yourself into thinking that life has changed much since the days of Louis XIV and the Medicis. Those who attain high standing in life are like kings and queens: They want to feel secure in their positions, and superior to those around them in intelligence, wit, and charm. It is a deadly but common misperception to believe that by displaying and vaunting your gifts and talents, you are winning the master's affection. He may feign appreciation, but at his first opportunity he will replace you with someone less intelligent, less attractive, less threatening, just as Louis XIV replaced the sparkling Fouquet with the bland Colbert. And as with Louis, he will not admit the truth, but will find an excuse to rid himself of your presence.
This Law involves two rules that you must realize. First, you can inadvertently outshine a master simply by being yourself. There are masters who are more insecure than others, monstrously insecure; you may naturally outshine them by your charm and grace.
No one had more natural talents than Astorre Manfredi, prince of Faenza. The most handsome of all the young princes of Italy, he captivated his subjects with his generosity and open spirit.
In the year 1500, Cesare Borgia laid siege to Faenza. When the city surrendered, the citizens expected the worst from the cruel Borgia, who, however, decided to spare the town: He simply occupied its fortress, executed none of its citizens, and allowed Prince Manfredi, eighteen at the time, to remain with his court, in complete freedom.
A few weeks later, though, soldiers hauled Astorre Manfredi away to a Roman prison. A year after that, his body was fished out of the River Tiber, a stone tied around his neck. Borgia justified the horrible deed with some sort of trumped-up charge of treason and conspiracy, but the real problem was that he was notoriously vain and insecure. The young man was outshining him without even trying. Given Manfredi's natural talents, the prince's mere presence made Borgia seem less attractive and charismatic. The lesson is simple: If you cannot help being charming and superior, you must learn to avoid such monsters of vanity. Either that, or find a way to mute your good qualities when in the company of a Cesare Borgia.
Second, never imagine that because the master loves you, you can do anything you want. Entire books could be written about favorites who fell out of favor by taking their status for granted, for daring to outshine. In late-sixteenth-century Japan, the favorite of Emperor Hideyoshi was a man called Sen no Rikyu. The premier artist of the tea ceremony, which had become an obsession with the nobility, he was one of Hideyoshi's most trusted advisers, had his own apartment in the palace, and was honored throughout Japan. Yet in 1591, Hideyoshi had him arrested and sentenced to death. Rikyu took his own life, instead. The cause for his sudden change of fortune was discovered later: It seems that Rikyu, former peasant and later court favorite, had had a wooden statue made of himself wearing sandals (a sign of nobility) and posing loftily. He had had this statue placed in the most important temple inside the palace gates, in clear sight of the royalty who often would pass by. To Hideyoshi this signified that Rikyu had no sense of limits. Presuming that he had the same rights as those of the highest nobility, he had forgotten that his position depended on the emperor, and had come to believe that he had earned it on his own. This was an unforgivable miscalculation of his own importance and he paid for it with his life. Remember the following: Never take your position for granted and never let any favors you receive go to your head.
Knowing the dangers of outshining your master, you can turn this Law to your advantage. First you must flatter and puff up your master. Overt flattery can be effective but has its limits; it is too direct and obvious, and looks bad to other courtiers. Discreet flattery is much more powerful. If you are more intelligent than your master, for example, seem the opposite: Make him appear more intelligent than you. Act naive. Make it seem that you need his expertise. Commit harmless mistakes that will not hurt you in the long run but will give you the chance to ask for his help. Masters adore such requests. A master who cannot bestow on you the gifts of his experience may direct rancor and ill will at you instead.
If your ideas are more creative than your master's, ascribe them to him, in as public a manner as possible. Make it clear that your advice is merely an echo of his advice.
If you surpass your master in wit, it is okay to play the role of the court jester, but do not make him appear cold and surly by comparison. Tone down your humor if necessary, and find ways to make him seem the dispenser of amusement and good cheer. If you are naturally more sociable and generous than your master, be careful not to be the cloud that blocks his radiance from others. He must appear as the sun around which everyone revolves, radiating power and brilliance, the center of attention. If you are thrust into the position of entertaining him, a display of your limited means may win you his sympathy. Any attempt to impress him with your grace and generosity can prove fatal: Learn from Fouquet or pay the price.
In all of these cases it is not a weakness to disguise your strengths if in the end they lead to power. By letting others outshine you, you remain in control, instead of being a victim of their insecurity. This will all come in handy the day you decide to rise above your inferior status. If, like Galileo, you can make your master shine even more in the eyes of others, then you are a godsend and you will be instantly promoted.
Authority: Avoid outshining the master. All superiority is odious, but the superiority of a subject over his prince is not only stupid, it is fatal. This is a lesson that the stars in the sky teach us--they may be related to the sun, and just as brilliant, but they never appear in her company. (Baltasar Gracian, 1601-1658)
You cannot worry about upsetting every person you come across, but you must be selectively cruel. If your superior is a falling star, there is nothing to fear from outshining him. Do not be merciful--your master had no such scruples in his own cold-blooded climb to the top. Gauge his strength. If he is weak, discreetly hasten his downfall: Outdo, outcharm, outsmart him at key moments. If he is very weak and ready to fall, let nature take its course. Do not risk outshining a feeble superior--it might appear cruel or spiteful. But if your master is firm in his position, yet you know yourself to be the more capable, bide your time and be patient. It is the natural course of things that power eventually fades and weakens. Your master will fall someday, and if you play it right, you will outlive and someday outshine him.
|Law 1||Never Outshine the Master||1|
|Law 2||Never Put too much Trust in Friends, Learn how to use Enemies||8|
|Law 3||Conceal your Intentions||16|
|Law 4||Always say Less than Necessary||31|
|Law 5||So much Depends on Reputation - Guard it with your Life||37|
|Law 6||Court Attention at all Cost||44|
|Law 7||Get others to do the Work for you, but always Take the Credit||56|
|Law 8||Make other People Come to you - use Bait if Necessary||62|
|Law 9||Win Through your Actions, Never through Argument||69|
|Law 10||Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky||76|
|Law 11||Learn to Keep People Dependent on you||82|
|Law 12||Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm your Victim||89|
|Law 13||When Asking for Help, Appeal to People's Self-Interest, Never to their Mercy or Gratitude||95|
|Law 14||Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy||101|
|Law 15||Crush your Enemy Totally||107|
|Law 16||Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor||115|
|Law 17||Keep others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability||123|
|Law 18||Do not Build Fortresses to Protect yourself - Isolation is Dangerous||130|
|Law 19||Know who you're Dealing with - do not Offend the Wrong Person||137|
|Law 20||Do not Commit to Anyone||145|
|Law 21||Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker - Seem Dumber than your Mark||156|
|Law 22||Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness into Power||163|
|Law 23||Concentrate your Forces||171|
|Law 24||Play the Perfect Courtier||178|
|Law 25||Re-Create yourself||191|
|Law 26||Keep your Hands Clean||200|
|Law 27||Play on People's need to Believe to Create a Cultlike Following||215|
|Law 28||Enter Action with Boldness||227|
|Law 29||Plan All the Way to the end||236|
|Law 30||Make your Accomplishments Seem Effortless||245|
|Law 31||Control the Options: Get others to Play with the Cards you Deal||254|
|Law 32||Play to People's Fantasies||263|
|Law 33||Discover Each Man's Thumbscrew||271|
|Law 34||Be Royal in your Own Fashion: Act Like a King to be Treated Like One||282|
|Law 35||Master the Art of Timing||291|
|Law 36||Disdain Things you cannot have: Ignoring them is the Best Revenge||300|
|Law 37||Create Compelling Spectacles||309|
|Law 38||Think as you Like but Behave Like others||317|
|Law 39||Stir up Waters to Catch Fish||325|
|Law 40||Despise the Free Lunch||333|
|Law 41||Avoid Stepping into a Great Man's Shoes||347|
|Law 42||Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep will Scatter||358|
|Law 43||Work on the Hearts and Minds of others||367|
|Law 44||Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect||376|
|Law 45||Preach the need for Change, but Never Reform too much at Once||392|
|Law 46||Never Appear too Perfect||400|
|Law 47||Do not Go Past the Mark you Aimed for; in Victory, Learn when to Stop||410|
|Law 48||Assume Formlessness||419|
Posted March 23, 2007
As a retired CEO and now university professor, I cannot disagree more strongly with the premise of this book and the tactics promoted within. The ideas expoused here are ruthless, amoral, manipulative nonsense -- a dose of pure utilitarianism for the stupid and greedy. Glaring examples of this twisted ethos were apparent in the management teams at Enron, Tyco, Worldcom, Arthur Anderson, Adelphia, and a host of other disfunctional corporations. The unsustainable paths these organizations chose, and the disasterous outcomes that resulted, exemplify the distorted ideas expoused in this sadly popular writing. Once again, Greene reminds us that no social question is so complex that a simple-minded solution can't be offered. For those interested in reading works on this subject with true substance, I can recommend the following: (1) 'Power, Influence and Persuasion' by Harvard Business School Press & Society for Human Resource Management, (2) 'Power and Influence' by John P. Kotter (at Harvard), (3) 'Managing with Power: Politics and Influence in Organizations' by Jeffrey Pfeffer (at Stanford), and (4) 'Power in Organizations' by Jeffrey Pfeffer (at Stanford). Reading credible and well documented books like these from genuine thought leaders will hopefully innoculate aspiring managers against the 'intellectual kitty litter' offered by Greene.
27 out of 31 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 5, 2012
I have this as an ebook text me if you want it, 3476203448 my name is Chris.
The book takes each "law" in turn and gives historical examples of those who follow the law and fail to follow the law. You’ll quickly see that the laws of power aren’t really laws – they’re more like principles that will help you in the art of gaining and exercising power. I don’t mean to suggest that the laws are incorrect – they’re absolutely correct – they’re just not laws.
9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 5, 2010
I have not finished this book yet but so far it is very enjoyable! I love how the writer includes examples of the laws within history and by historic figues. Also the way the book is printed with little side stories and notes in the margins is awesome! I find it very fascinating and great for discussions.
Some laws do not seem practical or amirable but are important to the topic none the less. I am interested in trying to apply some of these laws to my life and perhaps increase the quality of my life. I have been picked on and put down most of my life but perhaps this book will help me turn that around! It is somewhat inspirational.
8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 22, 2012
Clearly its controversial but thats because you either get it or you don't. Extensive research and great examples from actual history plus it has Interpretation for each law, which makes it even easier to understand. This book also has fables to stimulate your mind and make you think. This author is sharp and entertaining. Each law makes sense and wether you like it or not, its the way the world works, there are crooks out there and this book is your best defense!!! I work in a place where there's clicks, its very social,...so when you work with all kinds of characters like I do, or any people business. Simply put, if you're around 50 people then thats 50 personalities and 50 different behaviors, and you need to be prepared and this book tells you how to handle any situations you could be faced with. Excellent book!!!
6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 25, 2009
I thought this book would be more of a "How-To" in terms of getting power. Instead, what it is seems to be more of a long-winded history lesson. The research is quite in-depth, and it reads quite easily, but the teachings on how to accumulate power simply don't apply to modern-day life. Whether or not a general in some army burned the horns of cattle at night to give the appearance of more men to scare his enemy does not help me figure out how to gain power. Yes, it's fun to try to apply the teachings in this book to your life, but the simple fact is that it just doesn't work. It's a great read, and it's entertaining, but it's not going to help Joe Everyday get a leg up on the competition at his 9-5 cubicle job.
6 out of 11 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 25, 2006
Very dissapointing all I had to do is read the Table of Content, which gave me a hint as to the overall substance of the book-Sure every one desires power but obtaining it through ruthless devices will squash you in the end every time-one review said it is not to be taken seriously...Are you serious? we live in a world that operates in the power of light and darkness every day- Hello, focus on the the law of sowing and reaping-and what about the law of reciprocity-power is self control- not to control others or gain the control by manipulation this is clearly deception (witchcraft) this violates one's own will- to posses influennce is to have true power ones integrity and love for one another I'd advise anyone to be up on their game for anyone they come in contact with that invests in the dark principles of these 48 laws in this book. If you must read it, eat the meat of the obvious in human nature, but make sure you spit out the bones!
6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 5, 2005
this is manipulation, control, and self-serving force... follow and lose your own soul... its value may be in showing some of the tactics the soulless may use to control and manipulate... so in this it gives wisdom and protection to the naive, but I would not follow it... thus becoming another dog in a dog eat dog world...
4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 28, 2002
This Book is a way of getting to know how some people truly are in the world. This book gives an idea of some changes that people can make in their lives. The biggest thing is to understand the book and to not take it literally.
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 11, 2003
I stopped reading after reviewing the 48 laws at the beginning of the book. I found it to be an unethical guideline to attain 'power'. It is not 'biblical' as one reviewer put it but just the opposite! I found no need to delve further..this was one book I could judge by its cover!
3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 2, 2013
Well I like the concept and ideas, the interpretation gives you the ideas and your wisdom should be used when and if envoked. We can all read a books like the bible and have good and bad reviews. This book, is not for you probably, if you are working at Mcdonalds or a non politicized environment ie teacher, student, etc. But in boardrooms and crab-barrell enviroments sometimes you got to do what you must to prosper or survive!
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 3, 2013
This is an awful book. My abusive boyfriend was reading this as a way to gain control of me and those around him. He is in prison now, for the second time. Guess that says it all. Pure evil, as far as I am concerned. Anyone with a good and kind soul would find it difficult to practice much of what is written in this ammoral book. If I could, I'd give it zero stars! (Who would want to live the life of an ammoral person anyway???
2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 2, 2010
BE SURE TO GET A COPY OF THINK AND GROW RICH TOO! It is one of the VERY FEW books that promises to help you determine Who you want to become? What it is you want to do? When it's going to happen? Why THE MISSION IS POSSIBLE? And how you're going to attain it? All through the aid and application of the "unknown and unused knowledge and power" they termed the "Carnegie Secret."
1. Ready-Think 2. Get Set-Grow 3. Go-Get Rich
Let life come and live generously,
Host & Philosopher
Juddha Shaddai Fitzgerald
2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 18, 2001
Truth for the person looking to take true control of someone and or something in their life. This book is not for younger readers because of the fact it's impossible not to want to practice. It will give you an independent new found confidence to crush anyone or thing that gets in your way. should be labeled as the, 'SECOND BIBLE'.
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 23, 2012
Posted July 8, 2012
This is a very controversial book. Most people will say that it is an amoral book and goes against general principles. Well, this isn't the Bible and you will not find it in the spiritual aisle. It is a of facts about if you are not alert you will get taken and it has examples from 3000 years of history to support the rule. It is a survival manuel for anyone dealing with business, family, networking, and so called "friends".
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 5, 2010
Good book to read and discuss. Not sure I'd follow the leadership advice in here unless I didn't care about other poeple.
1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 1, 2014
Posted June 22, 2014
I have recommended this book to almost everyone I know. Im a college student that loves history and a good read. This book supplies me with both. I'm 20 years old with alot of ambition. I don't see these "48 Laws" as rules and guidlines that need to be followed but helpful advice to gain power and to guard yourself from it. Plus I love the words of wisdom found throughout the book as you read. My favorite quote from tthis book is "A person who cannot control is words, cannot control himself and is unworthy of respect". I found a lot of the advice to be true in this book. Despite the horrible reviews from some individuals about this book, take the chance and read it for yourself. Remember "Don't judge a book by its cover" or by reviews. I bought this book at 19 and I'm still reading it over again.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 8, 2013
Posted November 8, 2013