Law 1: Never outshine the master
Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power
When it comes to power, outshining the master is perhaps the worst mistake of all.
Never take your position for granted and never let any favors you receive go to your head.
Law 2: Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies
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
Since honesty rarely strengthens friendship, you may never know how a friend truly feels. Friends will say that they love your poetry, adore your music, envy your taste in clothes— maybe they mean it, often they do not.
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.
Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions
Use decoyed objects and desires and red herrings to throw people off the scent
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 your real ones. You will kill three birds with one stone: You appear friendly, open, and trusting; you conceal your intentions; and you send your rivals on time-consuming wild-goose chases.
Use smoke screens to disguise your actions. This derives from a simple truth: people can only focus on one thing at a time. It is really too difficult for them to imagine that the bland and harmless person they are dealing with is simultaneously setting up something else
As Kierkegaard wrote, “The world wants to be deceived.”
Law 4: Always say less than necessary
One oft-told tale about Kissinger… involved a report that Winston Lord had worked on for days. After giving it to Kissinger, he got it back with the notation, “Is this the best you can do?” Lord rewrote and polished and finally resubmitted it; back it came with the same curt question. After redrafting it one more time— and once again getting the same question from Kissinger-Lord snapped, “Damn it, yes, it’s the best I can do. ” To which Kissinger replied: “Fine, then I guess I’ll read it this time. ”
Persons who cannot control his words shows that he cannot control himself, and is unworthy of respect. 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.
Power is in many ways a game of appearances, and when you say less than necessary, you inevitably appear greater and more powerful than you are.
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.
Law 5: So much depends on reputation, guard it with your life
Always be alert to potential attacks and thwart them before they happen. Meanwhile, learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations. Then stand aside and let public opinion hang them.
Doubt is a powerful weapon: Once you let it out of the bag with insidious rumors, your opponents are in a horrible dilemma.
Once you have a solid base of respect, ridiculing your opponent both puts him on the defensive and draws more attention to you, enhancing your own reputation.
Law 6: Court attention at all costs
Surround your name with the sensational and the scandalous.
Better to be slandered and attacked than ignored.
Every crowd has a silver lining.
At the start of your career, you must attach your name and reputation to a quality, an image, that sets you apart from other people.
Create an air of mystery.
Remember: Most people are upfront, can be read like an open book, take little care to control their words or image, and are hopelessly predictable. By simply holding back, keeping silent, occasionally uttering ambiguous phrases, deliberately appearing inconsistent, and acting odd in the subtlest of ways, you will emanate an aura of mystery. The people around you will then magnify that aura by constantly trying to interpret you
Do something that cannot be easily explained or interpreted
Law 7: Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit
Law 8: Make other people come to you, use bait if necessary
For negotiations or meetings, it is always wise to lure others into your territory, or the territory of your choice. You have your bearings, while they see nothing familiar and are subtly placed on the defensive.
Law 9: Win through your actions, never through argument
Law 10: Infection: Avoid the unhappy or the unlucky
When you suspect you are in the presence of an infector, don’t argue, don’t try to help, don’t pass the person on to your friends, or you will become enmeshed. Flee the infector’s presence or suffer the consequences.
Law 11: Learn to keep people dependent on you
Law 12: Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim
Law 13: When asking for help, appeal to people’s self interest, never their mercy or gratitude
Law 14: Pose as a friend, work as a spy
Law 15: Crush your enemy totally
Law 16: Use absence to increase strength and honor
The more you are seen and heard from, the more common you appear. If you are already established in a group, temporary withdrawal from it will make you more talked about, even more admired. You must learn when to leave. Create value through scarcity.
At the start of an affair, you need to heighten your presence in the eyes of the other. If you absent yourself too early, you may be forgotten. But once your lover’s emotions are engaged, and the feeling of love has crystallized, absence inflames and excites. Giving no reason for your absence excites even more.
Law 17: Keep others in suspended terror, cultivate an air of unpredictability
Too much unpredictability will be seen as a sign of indecisiveness, or even of some more serious psychic problem. Patterns are powerful, and you can terrify people by disrupting them. Such power should only be used judiciously.
Law 18: Do not build a fortress to protect yourself, isolation is dangerous
Law 19: Know who you’re dealing with, do not offend the wrong person
Law 20: Do not commit to anyone
Do not commit to anyone, but be courted by all.
When you hold yourself back, you incur not anger but a kind of respect. You instantly seem powerful because you make yourself ungraspable, rather than succumbing to the group, or to the relationship, as most people do.
People who rush to the support of others tend to gain little respect in the process, for their help is so easily obtained, while those who stand back find themselves besieged with supplicants.
Do not commit to anyone, stay above the fray.
Remember: You have only so much energy and so much time. Every moment wasted on the affairs of others subtracts from your strength.
Law 21: Play a sucker to catch a sucker, seem dumber than your mark
Given how important the idea of intelligence is to most people’s vanity, it is critical never inadvertently to insult or impugn a person’s brain power.
Law 22: Use the surrender tactic: transform weakness into power
People trying to make a show of their authority are easily deceived by the surrender tactic.
It is always our first instinct to react, to meet aggression with some other kind of aggression. But the next time someone pushes you and you find yourself starting to react, try this: Do not resist or fight back, but yield, turn the other cheek, bend.
If you surrender instead, you have an opportunity to coil around your enemy and strike with your fangs from close up.
Law 23: Concentrate your forces
intensity defeats extensity every time.
Law 24: Play the perfect courtier
The laws of court politics:
Avoid ostentationPractice nonchalanceBe frugal with flatteryArrange to be noticedAlter your style and language according to the person ou are dealing withNever be the bearer of bad newsNever affect friendliness and intimacy with your masterNever criticize those above you directlyBe frugal in asking those above you for favorsNever joke about appearances of tastesDo not be the court cynicBe self observantMaster your emotionsFit the spirits of the timesBe the source of pleasure
Law 25: Re-Create Yourself
Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define it for you.
The world wants to assign you a role in life. And once you accept that role you are doomed.
Remake yourself into a character of power. Working on yourself like clay should be one of your greatest and most pleasurable life tasks.
The first step in the process of self-creation is self-consciousness— being aware of yourself as an actor and taking control of your appearance and emotions.
The second step in the process of self-creation is a variation on the George Sand strategy: the creation of a memorable character, one that compels attention, that stands out above the other players on the stage.
Law 26: Keep your hands clean
Conceal your mistakes, have a scapegoat around to blame.
Make use of the cats paw.
Law 27: Play on people’s need to believe to create a cult like following
Five rules of cult making
Keep it vague, keep it simpleEmphasize the visual and sensational over the intellectualBorrow the forms of organized religion to structure the groupDisguise your source of incomeSet up an us vs them dynamic
Law 28: Enter action with boldness
The bolder lie the better.
Lions circle the hesitant prey.
Boldness strikes fear, fear creates authority.
Going halfway with half a heart digs a deeper grave.
Hesitation creates gaps, boldness obliterates them.
Audacity separates you from the herd.
When you are as small and obscure as David was, you must find a Goliath to attack. The larger the target, the more attention you gain.