The 48 Laws of Power

Power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society.” -Michel Foucault

We’ve all experienced it. Men who seem to effortlessly command respect from others. They walk into a room filled with people they’ve never met and leave with offers of investment, romantic dates and admiration. These “men” (more commonly known by us lessor mortals as Wankers) seem to skate along in life with good fortune and admiration stalking them like a thief in the night.

So many doors are open to them, and people to their ideas, that they typically have to turn down opportunities the rest of us only dream about.  

These men somehow never appear to be caught off guard in any way, or if they are, they are able to bounce back and end up even further ahead than they were to begin with.

Are these men born under a lucky sign or is there something about what they say and do which affords them lives of such success and power?

Fortunately, for the rest of us, the latter appears to be true. There are secrets to these people’s success. There are things they know about the world and its people that they apply to their lives to navigate all manner of situations.

And, unless you too understand and apply these tenets to your own lives, you too will be walked all over and manipulated along with everyone else who hasn’t been exposed to and absorbed these secrets. Polish up your Conversation Skills to ensure this transition to power is an easy one.

You don’t have to be a mentalist. You could have Asperger’s, learn these rules and your life would still be infinitely easier (trust me on this one).

Once you’ve carefully Cultivated Your Image , it’s time to learn how to get to the top.

The good news is that a man named Robert Greene wrote a book about these secrets (laws). It’s called “The 48 laws of power” and it’s a game changer to be sure. But it’s not enough to simply read the book, you have to drink it in and understand how to apply these “laws”. I know men who have read the book once, are amazed about what it contains but then never implement the rules or learn from them.

You need to know the laws inside and out so that you can apply them to every part of your life! Once you understand the “laws” and can live with them in mind, your life will definitely begin to change. To stabilise your values before reading these laws so that you don’t use them for evil, ensure you have an appreciation of The Truth About Honesty and Integrity.

The book goes into quite some detail about each of these “laws”. The details are rich and interesting but, for ease of reference and memory, I distilled the essence of each of them for this post. Do still get the book, it’s a good read.

My caveat before reading this post is that, I am certainly not suggesting you memorise these rules and use them to manipulate your way through life or to the top. But I do think it’s valuable to understand these “laws” so you can choose to incorporate the positive ones into your life and recognise when the negative ones are being used against you by unscrupulous people.

Either way, you cannot afford to ignore these “laws” as they are at play everywhere, in love, politics, business, friendships and family.

There are 2 types of people in this world, those who learn the rules of the game and those who get played

Which one are you going to be?

The 48 Laws of Power

1. Never Outshine the Master:

Avoid victories over superiors. Do your best not to embarrass them by beating them in any type of competition. When in the company of your superior and others, attribute your success to him/her. Your achievements will eventually be known to be your own but your superior will always look after you regardless.

2. Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends:

Trust friends from a distance, allow room for error and have a plan B.

Remember, people aren’t always against you, they’re just for themselves, it’s nothing too personal. People in general are selfish and pursue their own interests.

Friends will always appear to have your back no matter what, but it’s the fool who expects this to always be true.

Sometimes former opponents make more loyal and stronger friends because there is typically earned respect.

3. Conceal Your Intentions:

I’ve found women to be better at this than guys, or guys don’t give a shit, I’m not sure which.

It’s not necessary for people to know everything about you. Allow some space that is yours and yours alone, even with friends and family. In life generally, be careful not to share too much.

Whether you expose your true feelings for a romantic interest or your plan to rise through a company, if your intentions are known, you have lost the elements of surprise and intrigue.

Rather add a sense of inexplicable mystery to your character, it keeps people on their toes and makes you seem interesting.

Remember, most people are in it to win it for themselves, it’s human nature. 

4. Always Say Less Than Necessary:

This is WAY easier for guys than for women. Men use around half as many words as women do, but even half as many can be too much.

Before speaking, the filter each sentence should pass through is this: Is what I am about to say, true, is it kind and is it necessary?

Some people talk as a way of simply saying, “look, here I am”. The drivel that comes out is annoying and it exposes parts of the person that weakens them before all others.

It reveals weaknesses and insecurities that others could either care less about or could use against you.

Speak only when you have something meaningful to say. Silence is a book written specifically to show you how to use silence to your advantage.

Think about the most powerful men on earth. Do they talk incessantly, giving away details about themselves, or do they command interest and respect by ensuring that each time they speak it’s valuable?

The more you speak, the less you are listened to. Kimi Raikkonen is the most popular F1 driver ever, and he says far less than he should. The result of this is that, each time he speaks, everyone hangs on each word.

You can crush an opponent with silence, use it as a weapon.  

5. So Much Depends on Reputation:

Guard your reputation with your life. It precedes you and it can open doors in ways you cannot fully imagine. Build and protect it very carefully.

It can take many years to cultivate one of value and seconds to destroy it.

Always act with honesty and integrity wherever possible and, when this is not possible, ensure no one ever finds out.

6. Court Attention at All Cost:

All publicity is good publicity. Dr Oz is a great example of this. He is a renown con-artist who has been hauled into court numerous times for dangerous lies and false claims about products and diets. All for his benefit. Yet he remains the “go-to” authority on things like diets and the corona virus, it’s astounding.

If any of us had suffered half the public humiliation he has, we would never show our face again, and yet there he is day after day on TV as the resident expert.

Trump is another example. Each time there is a scandal about him, he deflects and carries the momentum of the scandal over to something else, increasing his popularity along the way.

7. Get Others to Do the Work for You:

Thomas Edison was a master at this. He wasn’t much of a scientist at all, but he was a very shrewd business man. He capitalized on Nikola Tesla’s genius over and over and garnered all the credit.

Hire talents capable of doing what you cannot, and lean on their skills to make your enterprise great.

8. Make Other People Come to You:

This can be taken both metaphorically and literally. If you need to ask someone something face to face at the office, send them an email asking them to come over, or mail them a complicated question so they have to come to your desk to explain and then ask your question there. Coming to you will become a habit for them.

A quick internet search of videos with Barack Obama meeting dignitaries (even the queen), will reveal how, whenever possible, he would stand still when introduced to people so that they were forced to move toward him.

This is a classic, but very subtle way of gaining control of the meet even before it had begun.

In both cases force your “opponent” to react to your moves, do not react to theirs.

9. Win Through Your Actions:

Do not try to win every argument, win through actions. Don’t argue with superiors, agree and suggest an alternative, then demonstrate your idea next to theirs.

Allow them to think they have made the decision and tell everyone else it was their idea. (see law no. 1)

10. Infection. Avoid the Unhappy & Unlucky:

We all know at least one person who constantly complains and always seems to have bad things happen to them.

Some of these people really seem to try hard but bad things just keep happening for no reason.

It’s just in their nature. Cut off the fire starters, stay away from these people or bad things will happen to you too for no reason.

Try to help them instead and you will burn alongside them.

11. Learn to Keep People Dependent on You:

Prove yourself to be an indispensable asset both in profession and in romance, and your position will always be secured.

Be the only 1 who can do what you do, or see yourself replaced sooner or later. Keep ‘how you do what you do’ to yourself or the mystery of you and your skills will fade. 

12. Use Selective Honesty to Disarm Your Victim:

Always tell the truth to gain people’s / your opponent’s trust. It will be uncomfortable at 1st but it will get easier and the tough questions will be asked less.

Be honest when you are expected to be dishonest, it will throw your opponent off guard and they will never try to leverage you through a lie.

Remember, a truth will become part of your past, while a lie becomes part of your future.

13. When Asking for Help, Appeal to Peoples Self-Interest:

When u need help, make the person you are asking think it’s a skill that they have command over, far more so than you. “You’re the master at pivot tables, won’t you quickly do this for me” is a good example.

Or, make it seem like it’s in their best interests, think of things that would be mutually beneficial so you both gain from it.

How to Win Friends and Influence People will help you become a master at doing both.

Remember too, once you have asked a favor of someone and they do it for you, they are twice as likely to do you another favor in the future. This is called, the Benjamin Franklin effect.

14. Pose as A Friend, Work as A Spy:

Always hold yourself back in conversation. Allow others the opportunity to speak too much and betray their thoughts and strategy. Interrogation can be a passive exercise and come disguised as a friendly chat.

Learn to judge a person’s character by what they reveal of themselves, so you can recognise a threat b4 it arises. Test people’s honesty before you consider trusting them.

Watch their bodies for signs of dishonesty.

He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.” -Sigmund Freud

15. Crush Your Enemy Completely:

Do not allow them the opportunity to get up and come back at you. When words can no longer be heard and the enemy cannot possibly be reasoned with, the only option is total destruction, merely wound them and they will recover and show no mercy in return.

The list of examples is endless, even in our own lives.

16. Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor:

The words, “we wish we saw you more often are far sweeter than “there you are again”. Give people time to miss you by robbing them of your presence, only when we lose something do we discover how valuable it had been to us.

Don’t always be the one at every event and every party. Arrive late to functions you do attend and leave early. Give others time to talk about you when you’re not there in place of being part of the group who talks about others in their absence.

17. Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability:

When you are unpredictable, you are interesting, people will look forward to see what you do next.

Your enemies will not be able to devise a plan against you as they never know how you will react.

Leave others in the dark about how you might behave when negotiating too. Capitulate when they expect you to fight and fight hard when it suits you better, they won’t know what has hit them.

18. Isolation is Dangerous:

The more you are isolated, the easier it is for people to deceive you, you may even lose touch with reality. When someone is urging you to cut friends and family out of your life, realise that they want to control and influence you.

Whether they do it consciously or not, it is dangerous, this is how cults and destructive partners operate.

19. Do Not Offend the Wrong Person:

‘Speaking your mind’ and ‘Keeping it real’ are for weak people who always need to be right. Avoid insulting or offending others, you don’t know their inner workings and may not know who you are dealing with. We currently live in a time where everyone seems offended and the level of political correctness boarders on madness, so be careful not to make any enemies, you never know who you might need in your corner later on.

20. Do Not Commit:

Instead of committing to one side, allow yourself to remain open and play the one against the other. Committing to one side means more obligations and less control.

If the side you are supporting suddenly becomes an alliance with the other side, the other side will always remember you as the enemy.

21. Play A Sucker to Catch One:

Sometimes you have to play dumb to let your opponent let their guard down.

Being openly smart to people you do not know properly is foolish, being openly foolish is smart.

Don’t act stupid but perhaps pretend not to have known things you are told, tell them, “that’s interesting” and let them feel like the bigger person.

Sandbagging in life as in sport is a very clever way to sneak up on the unsuspecting.

22. Surrender Tactic, Transform Weakness into Power:

Pick your battles. You will exhaust yourself if you try to win every argument and fight.

Weak people never give way when they ought to. When you find yourself in a weak spot, choose to give in and live to fight another day.

You will lose the current battle but the wars are usually far from over.

Be careful not to let yourself get walked over though, ensure you win the bigger battles entirely.

23. Concentrate Your Forces:

When called upon, dedicate all of your forces to a single front. Do not allow your powers to be divided unless you will have then conquered.

If you are making a move to gain a position at work or to take on an opposing company, ensure each battle is fought with the full might of your resources and talent.

This will set a precedent and grow your reputation as being fair, but tough.

24. Play the Perfect Courtier:

Obey your master but shine in your own light. It is possible to lead without a title, if need be, and gain more support or followers than your superiors.

Don’t talk too much. Find the right words and right timing to say as much as is required when it suits you.

Ensure as many people as possible like you. Be charming, witty and helpful. Appear neutral, be honest and trustworthy. Always have a genuine smile on your face and ensure your intentions are never doubted.

This way, although you are a great talent, no one is threatened by you, you are an ally.

Remember this, and you will hold more power than the “king” yourself.

Because the highest authority is always targeted, you will move about in the shadows, not standing out, never at risk of being a target on the chess board.

Other pieces may fall from both ends but you will win regardless.

25. Recreate Yourself:

People will perceive you the way they think you perceive yourself. Hate yourself if you must, but never allow anyone to see it, or they will hate you too.

It’s important that you choose whatever it is you want to be and then recreate yourself. You have the freedom to change at any time, people’s memories are short and they will remember the last week of you more than the past year.

Don’t deceive, just choose which parts of yourself to put forward. Each of us is enough rolled into one to become whatever we like.

Remember these words from a man who understood this law well, “You can be anything you want to be, just turn yourself into anything you think that you could ever be…” -Freddie Mercury

26. Keep Your Hands Clean:

Never risk being caught doing anything underhanded. Even if it’s your endgame, the loss of reputation isn’t worth it.

Avoid falling into the trap of doing someone’s dirty work. They will use you as a scapegoat and join those who you’ve slighted in mocking and turning on you.

Don’t let yourself be manipulated, always assume someone has an agender and you will never be caught off-guard.

27. Play on People’s Need to Believe:

There are 2 types of people in the world. Those who want to know, and those who want to believe” -Friedrich Nietzsche.

We all strive to find meaning in a world of chaos. Most people resort to the comfort of believing in unproven divine entities, potions and vibrations.

Peoples quest for divine answers and need to belong to a group can be used against you. You are then recruited as a loyal disciple who offers effort, time and money to those who seek to exploit your needs.

If someone claims to have all the answers, they are full of shit, fall prey to them and all you are doing is giving more power to those who don’t have your best interest at heart.

If you allow others to interpret the world or scriptures for you, you are allowing them to think for you.

If something needs interpretation because it doesn’t make sense to you, perhaps that thing is bullshit.

Perhaps what I’ve just written here doesn’t make sense to you, and in that case, feel free to dismiss it but do it because you have thought about it first, not because someone else tells you how to behave or what to believe.

Think for yourself, use rational thought. Demand evidence always or suffer the pain of what irrationality and other people’s interpretation will bring upon you.

28. Enter Action With Boldness:

No matter how idiotic something may actually seem at 1st to others, if you engage with conviction and boldness, you would be surprised how many people will think it’s a good idea.

Perfect examples of this appear almost every time Donald Trump opens his mouth.

If you decide to take action, do it boldly. Whether in strategy or power games, he who hesitates is lost.

Also, in love and romance, he who hesitates masturbates. Be bold.

29. Plan All the Way To The End:

“Begin with the end in mind”, is one of the late Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Effective People”.

Before you take any actions, consider their outcomes and consequences, consider the risks, then only execute if it’s worth doing.

If time goes on and circumstances change, feel free to re-examine the option at a later time and choose differently after careful consideration.

The greatest chess players are those who can see dozens of moves ahead and prepare for each eventuality.

Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and absorb these rules.

30. Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless:

Harry Houdini made his escape performances look easy. But no one ever saw how much work, preparation and practise went into every trick he did.

Leonard Cohen is one of the most celebrated poets and songwriters of our time. But no one ever saw all the lines he wrote in thousands of notepads (which filled storage containers) he needed to fill to find the perfect words for each song and poem.

Make all your work look like it was improvised, made up on the spot, and you look like a genius. But boast about how much time and effort something took and it loses its allure.

31. Get Others to Play with The Cards You Deal:

Make others think that the only options are you and your solution or failure.

Even if they have other options, make them think they have just 2 and watch them choose yours each time.

If people simply must have multiple options make sure the only ones they focus on lead to you winning either way immediately or further down the line.

32. Play to Other People’s Fantasies:

People find life, and reality, difficult at times. The truth is often avoided because it is ugly and unpleasant.

Do your best not to slap people upside the head with truth and reality. To be sure, reality is what you and I hang our hats on, but others are happier thinking the red-breasted Robbin is a sign from a dead relative or that Karma will ensure folks get their just deserts.

Leave them alone, allow them to believe in such nonsense, perhaps a story of a little bird may offer them the incentive they need to choose your way of thinking.

33. Discover Each Man’s Thumb Screw:

Subtly find out everyone’s weakness and what they desire.

Once you know this, you can be useful to them.

Know the weak spots in your opponents, the cracks in their defence and you will to know what to work with when you need it.

Conversely, do not betray your own weaknesses or desires, keep those to yourself and your desires will not be used to manipulate you.

34. Be Royal in Your Own Fashion, Act Like A King:

If you’re a little strange, that’s fine, but be confident about it. Strange people with low self-esteem are weird and shunned, Strange people with high self-esteem are eccentric and loved.

Allow people to speak poorly to you, and others will think you have low self-esteem.

Ask for lofty requests and people will think you are worthy of such requirements, or why would you have asked?

Ask for less, receive less.

What you tolerate is what you will receive more of. You are a king in your own right.

35. Master the Art of Timing:

In life, too fast, and you’re a traitor, too late and you’re following the heard. Pay attention to when the right time is to make changes.

Do not be loyal to men who are not loyal and do not allow the sunk cost fallacy to determine your trajectory.

Timing is everything.

36. Show Disdain for Things You Cannot Have:

When you ignore someone, they cannot argue with you, they cannot reach you. It takes 2 to play a tennis game, if the 1 person doesn’t return the ball, the game stops. The same goes for arguments. Never chase what you can never have, stop looking like you are after something unattainable, it shows weakness.

If there is something you can never have, it is better to push it aside with discontent.

37. Create Compelling Spectacles:

Think of cults, religions, scams and fraudsters.

What Dr Oz, Charles Ponzi and Donald J Trump have in common is that they are all very good at grandiose claims and spectacles as they con millions of people.

Even when they are shown to be liars, so many people are dazzled by their claims and con artistry that they acquire even more followers.  

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect” -Mark Twain

38. Think as You Like, But Behave Like Others:

Think of some of the richest, most successful people in the world. Do you think they assume and believe what most of us do? Of course not, but they show patience and kindness even to the most ridiculous things in order to be liked and to fit in.

If successful people speak ill of those less intelligent or less smart than they are or if they outwardly show a sense of superiority, they will experience hate.

A constant need to show how smart one is will bring their downfall and garner contempt. You need to fit in whether you share common beliefs or not.

Being better or different in any way will cause problems through envy or jealousy.

You will be ostracised and your reputation will be slandered.

How much money do you make? About 70% of the person who is asking.

39. Stir Up Waters to Catch Fish:

Lay a trap with bait, and wait.

Mice desire cheese so much, they won’t even see the obvious construction around it (a construction they would usually avoid at all costs) if there wasn’t bait there.

When you know your enemies and their weaknesses, then you know what they react to. Use this knowledge against them. Raise a false alarm and watch what they run to protect. Then you know exactly where to hit to hurt them.

They too will know where to hit if you allow them to see where your weaknesses are. Stop talking about your fears and weaknesses, you are only showing weak character and allowing others to see where you’re vulnerable.

Keep yourself from being reactive. All that rage, blinding emotion, fear and desire. It makes you predictable and reveals you as weak.

Don’t be impulsive.

40. Beware the Free Lunch:

If anything is given to you seemingly for free, there is almost always a reason for this.

It doesn’t mean the person wishes you harm, it could be benign, but it’s never for free.

You are being manipulated or used and unless this is also part of your strategy, be careful.

Once you owe someone, you may never know when they will come to collect.

From your side, it pays to be generous and it pays not to receive free gifts.

For the price of a cup of coffee you can learn so much from a gifted person so use your free gifts wisely and choose well.

41. Avoid Stepping into A Great Man’s Shoes:

Don’t make it your life’s task to be better than someone else, it will almost never happen.

Rather choose your own path and go your own way where you will not be compared.

Be your best self and bask in your own light.

42. Strike the Shepherd and The Sheep Will Scatter:

Cut the snake at the head and it will die (actually, it’ll die no matter where you cut it but only later from a nasty infection and potentially biting you).

Fell the tree and watch the monkeys scatter.

What is an army without it’s general?

Whole empires have been driven by single men with iron willpower and vision.

If you allow other people’s actions or emotions to dictate yours, you will never be great. Move through the world as if you were the only on in it and you will never waiver along your path.

Take such a person away and the empires will crumble.

Had Hitler been removed early on, the world would likely not have come to war.

When Alexander the great was no more, his empire crumbled.

Any organisation, group or hierarchy typically has just a few or 1 member that the others follow.

Do with this information as you will.

43. Work on The Hearts and Minds of Others:

If you think yourself to be above the more common people and are narcissistic, you will slip and fall (likely on a strategically placed banana peel left by those who felt you were above them)

You should win friends and influence people (as Dale Carnegie suggested).

Be kind and agreeable or face the consequences.

Be humble or be humbled.

44. Disarm and Infuriate with The Mirror Effect:

No one can resist a man who concurs with them and also admires their ways of living.

Leave your own values at the door and morph into those around you and you will be loved, listened to and welcomed anywhere.

We like people who like us, and who are like us.

Match people’s energy, eat what they eat, speak their language, find common ground and even envious people will drop their preconceived notions about you.

45. Preach Change but Never Reform Quickly:

Change is imperative, but human beings love the comfort of familiarity.

Most folks don’t even like changing their toothpaste, so be patient with people and careful what you tell them.

The future, the unknown and disorder are frightening to people, even when it is for the better.

People prefer small incremental changes that build over time.

Don’t tell people where they need to end up, just take their hand and lead them step by step towards where you need them to be.

This will allow everyone to adjust at a comfortable pace.

We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented. This is why kids are so good with smart phones and computers, they are born into it.

Whereas older people feel the pain and shift of progress and resist it subconsciously.

46. Never Appear Too Perfect:

You don’t want to be the king but you don’t want to be a pawn either.

You want to be the faceless man behind the throne.

You don’t even want to appear on the chessboard.

You don’t want to be a visible target, but you still want to win at the game of power, no matter which side loses.

So, blend in and walk among them, well disguised.

47. In Victory, Learn When to Stop:

Do not go past the mark you aimed for.

The moment of victory is often the moment of greatest peril.

In the heat of victory, arrogance and overconfidence can push you past the goal you had aimed for, and by going too far, you make more enemies than you defeat.

Be gracious in victory, show compassion for the loser, even if you don’t feel it. This will do more for your reputation than gloating.

Tell your opponent you are going to crush them, but as soon as you do, behave like you wish you had not.

48. Assume Formlessness:

Don’t fight change.

When you catch yourself in a futile attempt to resist a new order, remind yourself, You came to places of great joy through change and also, there is nothing you can do.

You have to be antifragile.

Remember, it is not the circumstance that causes our suffering, but our own reaction to that circumstance.

Bruce Lee said, be water but I’m pretty sure he was full of shit, so I’ll leave you with the words of a true, great gentleman:

“If you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick every day” -Leonard Cohen

Here are The 48 Laws of Power in video form to help you remember them:

To get a more detailed version of the 48 laws in written form, feel free to visit The 48 Laws of Power Blogspot

Here is an Info-graphic You Can Download and Keep

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