The 48 Laws of Power Quotes
When you show yourself to the world and display your talents, you naturally stir all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity... you cannot spend your life worrying about the petty feelings of others.
LAW 4 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.
If you are unsure of a course of action, do not attempt it. 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.
Do not leave your reputation to chance or gossip; it is your life's artwork, and you must craft it, hone it, and display it with the care of an artist.
LAW 46 Never Appear Too Perfect 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.
LAW 25 Re-Create Yourself 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.
...But 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.
LAW 38 Think As You Like But Behave Like Others If you make a show of going against the times, flaunting your unconventional ideas and unorthodox ways, people will think that you only want attention and that you look down upon them. They will find a way to punish you for making them feel inferior. It is far safer to blend in and nurture the common touch. Share your originality only with tolerant friends and those who are sure to appreciate your uniqueness.
Never waste valuable time, or mental peace of mind, on the affairs of others—that is too high a price to pay.
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.
person who cannot control his words shows that he cannot control himself, and is unworthy of respect.
You choose to let things bother you. You can just as easily choose not to notice the irritating offender, to consider the matter trivial and unworthy of your interest. That is the powerful move. What you do not react to cannot drag you down in a futile engagement. Your pride is not involved. The best lesson you can teach an irritating gnat is to consign it to oblivion by ignoring it.
Few are born bold. Even Napoleon had to cultivate the habit on the battlefield, where he knew it was a matter of life and death. In social settings he was awkward and timid, but he overcame this and practice boldness in every part of his life because he saw its tremendous power, how it could literally enlarge a man(even one who, like Napoleon, was in fact conspicuously small).
To succeed in the game of power, you have to master your emotions. But even if you succeed in gaining such self-control, you can never control the temperamental dispositions of those around you. And this presents a great danger.
A Prince asked the dying spanish statesman, "Does your Excellency forgive all your enemies?" "I do not have to forgive all my enemies," answered the stateman, "I have had them all shot.
Remember: The best deceivers do everything they can to cloak their roguish qualities. They cultivate an air of honesty in one area to disguise their dishonesty in others. Honesty is merely another decoy in their arsenal of weapons.
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.
Never be distracted by people’s glamorous portraits of themselves and their lives; search and dig for what really imprisons them.
The key to power, then, is the ability to judge who is best able to further your interests in all situations. Keep friends for friendship, but work with the skilled and competent.
Oysters open completely when the moon is full; and when the crab sees one it throws a piece of stone or seaweed into it and the oyster cannot close again so that it serves the crab for meat. Such is the fate of him who opens his mouth too much and thereby puts himself at the mercy of the listener. Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519.
By acknowledging a petty problem you give it existence and credibility. The more attention you pay an enemy, the stronger you make him; and a small mistake is often made worse and more visible when you try to fix it. It is sometimes best to leave things alone. If there is something you want but cannot have, show contempt for it. The less interest you reveal, the more superior you seem.
Hide your intentions not by closing up (with the risk of appearing secretive, and making people suspicious) but by talking endlessly about your desires and goals-just not the real ones.
If, for example, you are miserly by nature, you will never go beyond a certain limit; only generous souls attain greatness.
Power is a game, and in games you do not judge your opponents by their intentions but by the effects of their actions.
Because the words ‘Why have you not been to see me?’ are sweeter to my ear than the words ‘Why have you come again?.
Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good.
DESPISE THE FREE LUNCH JUDGMENT What is offered for free is dangerous-it usually involves either a trick or a hidden obligation. What has worth is worth paying for. By paying your own way you stay clear of gratitude, guilt, and deceit. It is also often wise to pay the full price—there is no cutting corners with excellence. Be lavish with your money and keep it circulating, for generosity is a sign and a magnet for power.
What does it matter if another player, your friend or rival, intended good things and had only your interests at heart, if the effects of his action lead to so much ruin and confusion? It is only natural for people to cover up their actions with all kinds of justifications, always assuming that they have acted out of goodness. You must learn to inwardly laugh each time you hear this and never get caught up in gauging someone’s intentions and actions through a set of moral judgments that are really an excuse for the accumulation of power.
LAW 9 WIN THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS, NEVER THROUGH ARGUMENT JUDGMENT Any momentary triumph you think you have gained through argument is really a Pyrrhic victory: The resentment and ill will you stir up is stronger and lasts longer than any momentary change of opinion. It is much more powerful to get others to agree with you through your actions, without saying a word. Demonstrate, do not explicate.
There is almost a touch of condescension in the act of hiring friends that secretly afflicts them. The injury will come out slowly: A little more honesty, flashes of resentment and envy here and there, and before you know it your friendship fades. The more favors and gifts you supply to revive the friendship, the less gratitude you receive.
Never argue. In society nothing must be discussed; give only results. (Benjamin Disraeli, 1804–1881).
The Tiny Wound. It is small but painful and irritating. You try all sorts of medicaments, you com- plain, you scratch and pick at the scab. Doctors only make it worse, transforming the tiny wound into a grave matter. If only you had left the wound alone, letting time heal it and freeing yourself of worry.
JUDGMENT 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.
Image: An Oak Tree. The oak that resists the wind loses its branches one by one, and with nothing left to protect it, the trunk fi nally snaps. The oak that bends lives long er, its trunk grow ing wider, its roots deeper and more tenacious.
The mighty lion toys with the mouse that crosses his path—any other reaction would mar his fearsome reputation.
Learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations. Then stand aside and let public opinion hang them.
Do not commit yourself to anybody or anything, for that is to be a slave, a slave to every man.... Above all, keep yourself free of commitments and obligations—they are the device of another to get you into his power.... (Baltasar Gracián, 1601-1658) PART.
Learn the lesson: Once the words are out, you cannot take them back. Keep them under control. Be particularly careful with sarcasm: The momentary satisfaction you gain with your biting words will be outweighed by the price you pay.
Learn to use the knowledge of the past and you will look like a genius, even when you are really just a clever borrower.
Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit, because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure. TACITUS, c. A.D. 55-120.
Never appear overly greedy for attention, then, for it signals insecurity, and insecurity drives power away. Understand that there are times when it is not in your interest to be the center of attention. When in the presence of a king or queen, for instance, or the equivalent thereof, bow and retreat to the shadows; never compete.
Those who seek to achieve things should show no mercy. Kautilya, Indian philosopher third century B.C. OBSERVANCE.
Everything is judged by its appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing. Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, then, or buried in oblivion. Stand out. Be conspicuous, at all cost. Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious than the bland and timid masses.
It takes great talent and skill to conceal one’s talent and skill. LA ROCHEFOUCAULD, 1613–1680 Halliwell.
Learn to move fast and adapt or you will be eaten. The best way to avoid this fate is to assume formlessness. No predator alive can attack what it cannot see. OBSERVANCE.
But 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 run wild and cause you grief. Power cannot accrue to those who squander their treasure of words.
Never waste valuable time or mental peace of mind on the affairs of others - that is too high a price to pay.
USE SELECTIVE HONESTY AND GENEROSITY TO DISARM YOUR VICTIM JUDGMENT One sincere and honest move will cover over dozens of dishonest ones. Open-hearted gestures of honesty and generosity bring down the guard of even the most suspicious people. Once your selective honesty opens a hole in their armor, you can deceive and manipulate them at will. A timely gift—a Trojan horse—will serve the same purpose.
If the world is like a giant scheming court and we are trapped inside it, there is no use in trying to opt out of the game. That will only render you powerless, and powerlessness will make you miserable. Instead of struggling against the inevitable, instead of arguing and whining and feeling guilty, it is far better to excel at power. In fact, the better you are at dealing with power, the better friend, lover, husband, wife, and person you become.
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 pre-eminence.
So much of power is not what you do but what you do not do—the rash and foolish actions that you refrain from before they get you into trouble.