Main lesson of the book: Power is game, and you can either play to win or choose to be powerless.
Now here is a book that seems to be in direct opposition of the methods and ideologies laid out in financial books. This book without a doubt ruined whatever innocence my inner child had stashed away in the hopes of once again flourishing. The 48 laws of power seems to be focused on making sure that the reader knows what can be done to excel in the game of power. Each law is given its own explanation and its own examples of people who either followed the law or betrayed it. These examples come from humanities own historic pages wherein man of valor, men of renown, men of extreme wickedness have their deeds and life examined and interpreted by Robert Greene. Each review of their actions feels like a story in which it becomes clear how he or she used said rule to their advantage or disadvantage.
But each story is ripe with manipulation, deceit, betrayal and at times even genocide. The 48 laws of power often refers back to the courtiers of old who were in service to the king and were the kings court and at times the kings advisor. Similar to the current politicians of our age. These courtiers had to make sure to gain a position of power that wouldn’t offend the king but would still show those around them that they are powerful. Like many of us who work for a boss, we have to make sure that we do a good job and are able to “manage” those beneath our position while making sure we don’t threaten our boss’s power. To get to this position and to make sure we don’t offend our boss we have to make sure to use our mind and act according to the laws of power laid out in the book.
With each chapter I analyzed my own past behavior and deeds and how I tend to weigh my words before sending them out. I found that I am already subconsciously following a lot of these laws without the intent of increasing my power. Or at least I believed it was never my intent. I was never hungry for power, but the book clarified for me the concept of power in that its not only in business that power exists but also in relationships with family members or lovers. By following these rules you will not only be able to control and manipulate those around you but they will love it and they will love you for making them feel special. Because power according to the book is all about understanding and manipulating the situation and those around you. And never once think that people aren’t doing the exact same thing to you. By using your power accordingly you can make those around you feel better, stronger, more confident and they will then in turn crave your presence thus increasing your power over them. Just think about this for awhile as you go back through your past romantic relationships. Isnt that the exact thing most of us wished we inspired from those who we loved or liked?
The 48 laws of power is an interesting read after my financial books because most of those books state that harmony and karma are at the base of becoming rich. And that one can only become rich by being sincere in their actions and making sure their actions are for the benefit of the people they sell to or they deal with. This book however calls those who behave and think that way naïve as they underestimate the poison of the world around them. And that was the exact reason I wanted to read this book It felt like a good answer to what I should do once I get into a position of power through my financial gain. Because it is very unlikely that I will get rich without the help of others. For that exact reason I would need to be aware of how to deal with the people around me and the unseen enemies that might lurk in the dark or even worse the enemies that hide in plain sight. This book is the perfect pillar upon which to rest your concept of power and how to deal with people as you strive for wealth. Because it will make sure that you recognize the snakes in the grass, recognize the scams and traps laid out for you by your so called friends. The book might be harsh in the way it portrays the world and that you can only get anywhere by using cunning and deceit but it does have a point.
We often times delude ourselves into thinking the world is a great place where if you do good you will get good back. Where if you help people they will of course be willing to help you back. Where a favor will mean the other party will happily return the favor. But how many times has the world shown you that your beautiful morals are often lonely at the heights at which they reside. This book brings you back to reality and shows you the dirty underbelly of motivation and greed. While I can’t follow every law within the book, most of them are extremely useful when it comes to dealing with a certain type of person. Some laws are just extremely logical but never occurred to me because I never gave it any thought. I without a doubt learned a lot about myself and why I tend to do what I do from this book.
My favorite chapter is Law 8: MAKE OTHER PEOPLE COME TO YOU – USE BAIT IF NECESSARY. This law is all about keeping your emotions in check and making your opponent lose control of his emotions and thus in a fit of rage abandoning all reason and plans he might have had. This is something I have been striving for, for a long time. Because to me, the only thing we can ever truly control is ourselves, our thoughts and deeds. By losing control of myself I will thus lose whatever possible control I may have had over my surroundings as well. Keeping my cool with allow me to keep the power. I learned this through various fights I had my own personal relationships, that my “devil may care” attitude and my so called poker face would infuriate my opponent. Because well, who wants to fight with someone who doesn’t even seem to care. They would then in turn reveal more of their cards and lose even more of their so called power as they didn’t think anymore, but lost themselves in the moment and their fit of rage. Not considering their words, the consequences of their actions or how I could possibly react. Because for them the moment was the most important, and the venting of their rage was their key priority. While for me, often it would be about the longevity of the relationship or possibly even the longevity of my position of power over them.
Always think a few steps ahead, never move out of anger and try to not take anything personal. Force your enemies hand, make them abandon their laid out plans and have them simply react to whatever you did. Never take direct actions but instead use a go between which could very possibly become your scapegoat should things go wrong. Consider the possible reactions and keep an air of mystery about you as you reinvent yourself and your position of power.
The 48 laws of power is without a doubt, a book worth reading. Just keep in mind, you will not look at the world the same way afterwards.