The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Summary

A dense, candid, and frightening examination of power and its many dynamics. If you are hoping to understand people and achieve big things in this world, this book is a must read.

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Key Takeaways

Why care about power?

It’s an inevitable part of life, so better to be adept at it. Mastering your emotions, patience, and understanding human motivations are the most important facilitators of power. Emotions cloud reason, prevent you from seeing things objectively, and hinder clear responses. Be patient. Understand hidden motivations.

Conceal your intentions

Feign indifference, send unclear signals, talk about goals, and emphasize truth and honesty as important.

Say less than is necessary

Creates mystery, air of profundity, and leads to information gains with little revelation.

Cultivate and guard your reputation

Choose one good quality to build reputation on. Provides you a lot of value with little energy. An air of mystery and difference is effective in the era of banality.

Court attention

Even negative attention will help you in the long run.

Create dependence on you

Either through extensive (wide involvement) or intensive (deep involvement) actions.

Balance presence with absence

Heighten presence in beginning, and then withdraw at the right time. Particularly effective in seduction.

In dealing with people

Make them feel smarter than you; never offend their intellectual identity, appearance, or taste.

Reinvent yourself

Don’t accept any one role in life. Be responsible for your own creation, and make it a memorable image.

Mirror

Demonstrate that you share similar values and understand the other person’s unspoken self.

Spend money

Engage in free and creative spending with power in mind instead of buying specific things. Develop reputation of generosity. Don’t be cheap or petty. Avoid purposeless gifts and generosity.

Avoid anger

Don’t suppress anger; change your perspective. Nothing is personal unless you make it that way. Losing control leads to bad decisions, loss of respect, and resentment.

Avoid what you disdain

You choose what bothers you. Don’t give small annoyances your attention. What you say outward doesn’t have to reflect the inward. Stir up the water sometimes and always remain calm, especially if you incite anger in others.

Understand individuals

Don’t correct people’s views of the world, no matter how well-intentioned. Play to their fantasies. Play on desire for a great change with little time, money, and effort. Play to desire to live in different world with better values and less hardship. Play to desire for relief from boredom.

Appear effortless

Actions should appear natural, effortless, calm, and graceful. Don’t give away your secrets. Spressatura: capacity to make the difficult seem easy. Show only finished masterpieces. Avoid blabbing and only selectively reveal some practices.

Master timing

Stand back when timing isn’t right. Strike when it is.

Wear what you want to attract

Believe in yourself, and people will assume that it’s based on something. Assume dignity even under immense stress and pressure.

Control the cards

Give people options that you want, and convince them they made the choice.

Be bold

Boldness is cultivated, not inherent. People admire boldness and respect boldness in a world of plentiful timidity. It separates you from the herd and is a tactical characteristic, rather than a way of being. It’s particularly important for negotiation & romance. Timidity comes from worrying about how people perceive you and desire to be liked. Seduce by engulfing and keeping illusion alive. Self-confidence brings us out of typical reflection.

Preach change, but implement slowly

People want to believe in something they can follow. Promise transformation, but be vague. Create us versus them dynamic. Make people see you as agent of transformation. Work on groups, which reduce people’s capacity to reason. Appeal to higher ideals and noble cause. People like comfort and are scared of change, so move slowly. Cloak change and innovation in the legitimacy of a past initiative.

Avoid envy

Poisonous, powerful, and disguised emotion that’s easier to prevent, than solve. Be modest. Attribute success to luck.

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