This controversial, ruthless tactical playbook for getting what you want is a best seller for a reason. Everyone wants the skinny on obtaining power. Greene instructs his readers on how to outsmart the competition, win the approval of others and take control using lessons from history. He dissects the psychology of his strategies, so anyone can use them to their full advantage.
My key Takeaways from “The 48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene:
Understand power, learn how to defend against it, and learn how to use it to get what you want.
Powerful people like to be the center of attention so in order to impress them you shouldn't outshine them as this will make them feel threatened instead, you should ensure you shine the light on them to make them look better and smarter than everyone one, including yourself.
To become powerful you will likely have to use other people's work to your advantage. Stealing is a strong word to use but if you have ever plagiarized someone's work or copied an answer know that you're not alone as even Thomas Edison used employee Nikola Tesla's work to further his breakthrough of the dynamo, claiming Tesla's hard work as his own. This is why it's so vital for you to claim credit for your work, whether you've invented something, written a book, or written a speech – claim your idea or work before someone else does!
When struggling to outsmart your competition, gather as much information as you can about the company or individual. You'll need to befriend the enemy in order to outpower them, this way you can discover their weaknesses, plans, and desires whilst, in time, influencing their decisions. Hiring informants is one way to gather information but is risky – how will you know if they're a double agent and that the information is reliable? Therefore, it's better to be your own spy. If the tables are turned (and you should presume they are!) you can act unpredictably to gain the edge over your competitor, this will leave them confused and floundering far behind as they try to work out what you're up to whilst you steam ahead.
When faced with an opponent that you know is stronger than you, it's ok to surrender as you will be able to gain power later - Avoid fighting for the glory when you know you don't have a hope of coming out on top and your competitor knows it too. By surrendering this time, you're not giving up altogether – use this opportunity to regroup so you come back fighting stronger next time.
To be treated superiorly you need to act more superior than your colleagues, however, by doing this you'll breed contempt in them. Therefore, you need to get people to treat you like royalty – don't let them see you acting superiorly, be superior so that they assume there's good reason for you to be treated so!
Seduction is always better than using force and coercion when gaining power over others. Even though force can often be the easier option, it breeds resistance in people as they being to resent you. Seduction on the other hand, allows you to control people by playing on their emotions, people will become indebted to you when you treat them well and will ultimately 'jump' as soon as you say the word!
The 48 Laws of Power Chapters
Chapter One - Law 1 - Never Outshine the Master
Chapter Two - Law 2 - Never Put Too Much Trust In Friends, Learn How to Use Enemies
Chapter Three - Law 3 - Conceal YOur Intentions
Chapter Four - Law 4 - Always Say Less Than Necessary
Chapter Five - Law 5 - So Much Depends on Reputation - Guard It with Your Life
Chapter Six - Law 6 - Court Attention at All Cost
Chapter Seven - Law 7 - Get Others to Do the Work for You, But Always Take the Credit
Chapter Eight - Law 8 - Make Other People Come To You - Use Bait if Necessary
Chapter Nine - Law 9 - Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument
Chapter Ten - Law 10 - Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky
Chapter Eleven - Law 11 - Learn to Keep People Dependent on You
Chapter Twelve - Law 12 - Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm Your Victim
Chapter Thirteen - Law 13 - When Asking for Help, Appeal to People's Self-Interest, Never to Their
Chapter Fourteen - Law 14 - Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy
Chapter Fifteen - Law 15 - Crush Your Enemy Totally
Chapter Sixteen - Law 16 - Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor
Chapter Seventeen - Law 17 - Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability
Chapter Eighteen - Law 18 - Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself - Isolation is Dangerous
Chapter Nineteen - Law 19 - Know Who You're Dealing With - DO Not Offend the Wrong Person
Chapter Twenty - Law 20 - DO Not Commit to Anyone
Chapter Twenty-One - Law 21 - Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker - Seem Dumber Thank Your Mark
Chapter Twenty-Two - Law 22 - Use the Surrender Tactic - Transform Weaknesses Into Power
Chapter Twenty-Three - Law 23 - Concentrate Your Forces
Chapter Twenty-Four - Law 24 - Play the Perfect Courtier
Chapter Twenty-Five - Law 25 - Re-Create Yourself
Chapter Twenty-Six - Law 26 - Keep Your Hands Clean
Chapter Twenty-Seven - Law 27 - Play on People's Need to Believe to Create a Cultlike Following
Chapter Twenty-Eight - Law 28 - Enter Action with Boldness
Chapter Twenty-Nine - Law 29 - Plan All the Way to the End
Chapter Thirty - Law 30 - Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless
Chapter Thirty-One - Law 31 - Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards You Deal
Chapter Thirty-Two - Law 32 - Play to People's Fantasies
Chapter Thirty-Three - Law 33 - Discover Each Man's Thumbscrew
Chapter Thirty-Four - Law 34 - Be Royal In Your Own Fashion: Act Like a King to Be Treated Like One
Chapter Thirty-Five - Law 35 - Master the Art of Timing
Chapter Thirty-Six - Law 36 - Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them is the Best Revenge
Chapter Thirty-Seven - Law 37 - Create Compelling Spectacles
Chapter Thirty-Eight - Law 38 - Think as You Like But Behave Like Others
Chapter Thirty-Nine - Law 39 - Stir Up Waters to Catch Fish
Chapter Forty - Law 40 - Despise the Free Lunch
Chapter Forty-One - Law 41 - Avoid Stepping Into a Great Man's Shoes
Chapter Forty-Two - Law 42 - Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep will Scatter
Chapter Forty-Three - Law 43 - Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others
Chapter Forty-Four - Law 44 - Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect
Chapter Forty-Five - Law 45 - Preach the Need for Change, But Never Reform Too Much at Once
Chapter Forty-Six - Law 46 - Never Appear Too Perfect
Chapter Forty-Seven - Law 47 - Do Not Go Past the Mark You Aimed for: In Victory, Learn When to Stop
Chapter Forty-Eight - Law 48 - Assume Formlessness
My Favorite Quotes from The 48 Laws of Power
"Never waste valuable time, or mental peace of mind, on the affairs of others—that is too high a price to pay... What you do not react to cannot drag you down in a futile engagement."
"A person who cannot control his words shows that he cannot control himself... The human tongue is a beast that few can master. It strains constantly to break out of its cage, and if it is not tamed, it will tun wild and cause you grief...."
"Always Say Less Than Necessary. When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinxlike. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish."
"Your doubts and hesitations will infect your execution. Timidity is dangerous: Better to enter with boldness. Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity. Everyone admires the bold; no one honors the timid."
"Lord, protect me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies... Be wary of friends—they will betray you more quickly, for they are easily aroused to envy. They also become spoiled and tyrannical. But hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove. In fact, you have more to fear from friends than from enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them."
"friendship and love blind every man to their interests.... Keep your friends for friendship, but work with the skilled and competent"
"Appearing better than others is always dangerous, but most dangerous of all is to appear to have no faults or weaknesses. Envy creates silent enemies. It is smart to occasionally display defects, and admit to harmless vices, in order to deflect envy and appear more human and approachable. Only gods and the dead can seem perfect with impunity."
"Do not accept the roles that society foists on you. Re-create yourself by forging a new identity, one that commands attention and never bores the audience. Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define if for you. Incorporate dramatic devices into your public gestures and actions – your power will be enhanced and your character will seem larger than life."
"Never assume that the person you are dealing with is weaker or less important than you are. Some people are slow to take offense, which may make you misjudge the thickness of their skin, and fail to worry about insulting them. But should you offend their honor and their pride, they will overwhelm you with a violence that seems sudden and extreme given their slowness to anger. If you want to turn people down, it is best to do so politely and respectfully, even if you feel their request is impudent or their offer ridiculous."
"An emotional response to a situation is the single greatest barrier to power, a mistake that will cost you a lot more than any temporary satisfaction you might gain by expressing your feelings... To succeed in the game of power, you have to master your emotions"
"Never be distracted by people’s glamorous portraits of themselves and their lives; search and dig for what really imprisons them."
"Despise the free lunch.... "
― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power
Editor and Founder
Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating the next generation of leaders to their true potential.