Ready To Become Powerful? Read This Book!
Five Takeaways From Robert Greene’s “The 48 Laws of Power”
Power is like fire: mysterious and volatile.
One minute it’s warming and reassuring. The next it’s burning and destructive. Then — without warning — it’s gone.
I’m fascinated by powerful people — the good and the evil. I wonder at their strength of character, ingenuity and persuasive skills. To me, power is nothing short of magic.
But apart from eliciting respect and admiration, power can be achieved through following sage advice. Robert Greene’s book of laws will provide you with useful knowledge and insight into becoming a more power-conscious person this new year.
No matter who you are, where you work, whether you’re still in college or retired, these skills will change your life.
“Law 4: Always Say Less Than Necessary”
In the famous musical “The Wizard of Oz”, one delightful character called Scarecrow shares a nugget of wisdom with us:
[Dorothy]: How can you talk if you haven’t got a brain?
[Scarecrow]: I don’t know… But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking… don’t they?
We probably know many people for whom this quotation is apt. Greene argues that a reputable, beloved figure, one known for achieving extraordinary feats, will lose their prestige by failing to be taciturn.
In other words: keep quiet! You’ve only favor to lose by speaking your mind.
People have an image of you in their minds. If you’re powerful, you’re enigmatic — an ideal more than a human being. Opening your mouth brings forth more unappealing — albeit human—qualities. Therefore, stay obscure. Say less.
There are times when being a loudmouth can be beneficial. It weakens your authority and dissolves your mystery. Although, this can be one’s intention. By having others perceive you as loquacious, you subordinate yourself. This has a disarming effect and masks your actual power. It’s a clever strategy to use when intending to turn the tables on somebody.
“Law 27: […] Create A Cultlike Following”
Like the previous law, this one is tactical and cunning, albeit more sinister. By playing on people’s need to belong, for inspiration and a calling, one uses their influence over others to satisfy their own ends.
Law 27 sounds a lot like modern marketing strategies and political campaigns, which as we all know, are successful. Thus, this law is both a warning to entrepreneurs and enthusiastic CEOs. Like lemmings, your followers and employees will accomplish great things in your name. They’ll work overtime and toss their hard earned coin in your coffer without thinking twice.
Always consider your motivation for this blind control over people.
Ask yourself, are my ends ethical?
“Law 30: Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless”
Similar to Law 4, Greene warns us against telling your whole story. Keep your methods obscure. When others observe your accomplishments, let them wonder: “How does she do it?”
Beware the try-hard. They seek praise by displaying how hard they labored, not through the outcome of their work. Thus, they aren’t deserving. They are charlatans.
“Law 9: Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument”
Actions speak louder than words. However, Greene goes one step further and argues that words can bring you discredit in an argument. What’s worse, winning an argument can upset your partner and leave them not only opposed to you, but feeling slighted by you.
Intending to persuade, your words actually belittle the person that you’re trying to convince. By winning the argument, you only succeed in making them feel inferior. This isn’t an enticing outcome when attempting to persuade your superior. Instead, swallow your words and demonstrate that you’re in the right.
Never tell them “you are wrong”.
Winning the argument will leave the other person resenting you. Whereas holding your tongue —preserving their reputation— will preserve your relationship.
“Law 25: Re-create Yourself”
Don’t let others pigeonhole you. And don’t settle for who you think you are.
Be charismatic. Be mystifying. Be memorable.
Don’t shy away from theatrics. Consider the person that you wish to become as a role. Inhabit that role as though you were an actor on the stage. And, like many fine and evocative famous figures, abide by the following conditions:
- Know who you are and what you stand for.
- Know what to say and when to say it.
- Know when to make your entrances and exits — and how.
- Know what emotions you want to elicit and how to evoke them.
- Know what you need and get it.
Finally, re-creation is transformation. Adapt to your audiences, your circumstances. It’s your ticket to surviving and retaining power.
Now get out there and be powerful!
Greene offers sophisticated and highly entertaining examples drawn from multiple historical figures. I suggest reading or listening to his book to gain important context. Pick it up today and learn about the other forty-three nuggets that didn’t make this list.