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The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers

Posted on: 21 فبراير 2010

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Law 1

Never Outshine the Master

Always make those
above you feel comfortably superior.  In
your desire to please or impress them, do not go too far in displaying your
talents or you might accomplish the opposite – inspire fear and
insecurity.  Make your masters appear
more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power.

Law 2

Never put too Much Trust in Friends, Learn how to
use 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

 Law 3

Conceal your Intentions

people off-balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your
actions.  If they have no clue what you
are up to, they cannot prepare a defense. 
Guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelope them in enough
smoke, and by the time they realize your intentions, it will be too late.

 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 sphinx like.  Powerful people impress
and intimidate by saying less.  The more
you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.

 Law 5

So Much Depends on Reputation – Guard it with your

Reputation is the
cornerstone of power.  Through reputation
alone you can intimidate and win; once you slip, however, you are vulnerable,
and will be attacked on all sides.  Make
your reputation unassailable.  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.

 Law 6

Court Attention at all Cost

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

  Law 7

Get others to do the Work for you, but Always Take
the Credit

Use the wisdom,
knowledge, and legwork of other people to further your own cause.  Not only will such assistance save you
valuable time and energy, it will give you a godlike aura of efficiency and
speed.  In the end your helpers will be
forgotten and you will be remembered. 
Never do yourself what others can do for you.

 Law 8

Make other People come to you – use Bait if

When you force
the other person to act, you are the one in control.  It is always better to make your opponent
come to you, abandoning his own plans in the process.  Lure him with fabulous gains – then
attack.  You hold the cards.

 Law 9

Win through your Actions, Never through Argument

Any momentary
triumph you think 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.


Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky

You can die from
someone else’s misery – emotional states are as infectious as disease.  You may feel you are helping the drowning man
but you are only precipitating your own disaster.  The unfortunate sometimes draw misfortune on
themselves; they will also draw it on you. 
Associate with the happy and fortunate instead.

Law 11

Learn to Keep People Dependent on You

To maintain your
independence you must always be needed and wanted.  The more you are relied on, the more freedom
you have.  Make people depend on you for
their happiness and prosperity and you have nothing to fear.  Never teach them enough so that they can do
without you.

 Law 12

Use Selective
Honesty and Generosity to Disarm your Victim

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.

 Law 13

When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest,

Never to their Mercy or Gratitude

If you need to
turn to an ally for help, do not bother to remind him of your past assistance
and good deeds.  He will find a way to
ignore you.  Instead, uncover something
in your request, or in your alliance with him, that will benefit him, and
emphasize it out of all proportion.  He
will respond enthusiastically when he sees something to be gained for himself.

 Law 14

Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy

Knowing about
your rival is critical.  Use spies to
gather valuable information that will keep you a step ahead.  Better still: Play the spy yourself.  In polite social encounters, learn to
probe.  Ask indirect questions to get
people to reveal their weaknesses and intentions.  There is no occasion that is not an opportunity
for artful spying.

 Law 15

Crush your Enemy Totally

All great leaders
since Moses have known that a feared enemy must be crushed completely.  (Sometimes they have learned this the hard
way.)  If one ember is left alight, no
matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out.  More is lost through stopping halfway than
through total annihilation:  The enemy
will recover, and will seek revenge. 
Crush him, not only in body but in spirit.

 Law 16

Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor

Too much
circulation makes the price go down:  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.

 Law 17

Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of

Humans are
creatures of habit with an insatiable need to see familiarity in other people’s
actions.  Your predictability gives them
a sense of control.  Turn the tables: Be
deliberately unpredictable.  Behavior
that seems to have no consistency or purpose will keep them off-balance, and
they will wear themselves out trying to explain your moves.  Taken to an extreme, this strategy can
intimidate and terrorize.

 Law 18

Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself – Isolation
is Dangerous

The world is
dangerous and enemies are everywhere – everyone has to protect themselves.  A fortress seems the safest. But isolation
exposes you to more dangers than it protects you from – it cuts you off from
valuable information, it makes you conspicuous and an easy target.  Better to circulate among people find allies,
mingle.  You are shielded from your
enemies by the crowd.

 Law 19

Know Who You’re Dealing with – Do Not Offend the Wrong

There are many
different kinds of people in the world, and you can never assume that everyone
will react to your strategies in the same way. 
Deceive or outmaneuver some people and they will spend the rest of their
lives seeking revenge.  They are wolves
in lambs’ clothing.  Choose your victims
and opponents carefully, then – never offend or deceive the wrong person.

 Law 20

Do Not Commit to Anyone

It is the fool
who always rushes to take sides.  Do not
commit to any side or cause but yourself. 
By maintaining your independence, you become the master of others –
playing people against one another, making them pursue you.

 Law 21

Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker – Seem Dumber than your

No one likes feeling
stupider than the next persons.  The
trick, is to make your victims feel smart – and not just smart, but smarter
than you are.  Once convinced of this,
they will never suspect that you may have ulterior motives.

 Law 22

Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness into Power

When you are
weaker, never fight for honor’s sake; choose surrender instead.  Surrender gives you time to recover, time to
torment and irritate your conqueror, time to wait for his power to wane.  Do not give him the satisfaction of fighting
and defeating you – surrender first.  By
turning the other check you infuriate and unsettle him.  Make surrender a tool of power.

 Law 23

Concentrate Your Forces

Conserve your
forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point.  You gain more by finding a rich mine and
mining it deeper, than by flitting from one shallow mine to another – intensity
defeats extensity every time.  When
looking for sources of power to elevate you, find the one key patron, the fat
cow who will give you milk for a long time to come.

 Law 24

Play the Perfect Courtier

The perfect
courtier thrives in a world where everything revolves around power and
political dexterity.  He has mastered the
art of indirection; he flatters, yields to superiors, and asserts power over
others in the mot oblique and graceful manner. 
Learn and apply the laws of courtiership and there will be no limit to
how far you can rise in the court.

 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.

 Law 26

Keep Your Hands Clean

You must seem a
paragon of civility and efficiency: Your hands are never soiled by mistakes and
nasty deeds.  Maintain such a spotless
appearance by using others as scapegoats and cat’s-paws to disguise your

Law 27

Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cultlike

People have an
overwhelming desire to believe in something. 
Become the focal point of such desire by offering them a cause, a new
faith to follow.  Keep your words vague
but full of promise; emphasize enthusiasm over rationality and clear
thinking.  Give your new disciples
rituals to perform, ask them to make sacrifices on your behalf.  In the absence of organized religion and
grand causes, your new belief system will bring you untold power.

 Law 28

Enter Action with Boldness

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.

 Law 29

Plan All the Way to the End

The ending is
everything.  Plan all the way to it,
taking into account all the possible consequences, obstacles, and twists of
fortune that might reverse your hard work and give the glory to others.  By planning to the end you will not be
overwhelmed by circumstances and you will know when to stop.  Gently guide fortune and help determine the
future by thinking far ahead.

 Law 30

Make your Accomplishments Seem Effortless

Your actions must
seem natural and executed with ease.  All
the toil and practice that go into them, and also all the clever tricks, must
be concealed.  When you act, act
effortlessly, as if you could do much more. 
Avoid the temptation of revealing how hard you work – it only raises
questions.  Teach no one your tricks or
they will be used against you.

 Law 31

Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards
you Deal

The best
deceptions are the ones that seem to give the other person a choice:  Your victims feel they are in control, but
are actually your puppets.  Give people
options that come out in your favor whichever one they choose.  Force them to make choices between the lesser
of two evils, both of which serve your purpose. 
Put them on the horns of a dilemma: 
They are gored wherever they turn.

 Law 32

Play to People’s Fantasies

The truth is
often avoided because it is ugly and unpleasant.  Never appeal to truth and reality unless you
are prepared for the anger that comes for disenchantment.  Life is so harsh and distressing that people
who can manufacture romance or conjure up fantasy are like oases in the
desert:  Everyone flocks to them. There
is great power in tapping into the fantasies of the masses.

 Law 33

Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew

Everyone has a
weakness, a gap in the castle wall.  That
weakness is usual y an insecurity, an uncontrollable emotion or need; it can
also be a small secret pleasure.  Either
way, once found, it is a thumbscrew you can turn to your advantage.

  Law 34

Be Royal in your Own Fashion:  Act like a King to be treated like one

The way you carry
yourself will often determine how you are treated; In the long run, appearing
vulgar or common will make people disrespect you.  For a king respects himself and inspires the
same sentiment in others.  By acting
regally and confident of your powers, you make yourself seem destined to wear a

 Law 35

Master the Art of Timing

Never seem to be
in a hurry – hurrying betrays a lack of control over yourself, and over
time.  Always seem patient, as if you
know that everything will come to you eventually.  Become a detective of the right moment; sniff
out the spirit of the times, the trends that will carry you to power.  Learn to stand back when the time is not yet
ripe, and to strike fiercely when it has reached fruition.

 Law 36

Disdain Things you cannot have:  Ignoring them is the best Revenge

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. 

Law 37

Create Compelling Spectacles

Striking imagery
and grand symbolic gestures create the aura of power – everyone responds to
them.  Stage spectacles for those around
you, then full of arresting visuals and radiant symbols that heighten your
presence.  Dazzled by appearances, no one
will notice what you are really doing.

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.

Law 39

Stir up Waters to Catch Fish

Anger and emotion
are strategically counterproductive.  You
must always stay calm and objective.  But
if you can make your enemies angry while staying calm yourself, you gain a
decided advantage.  Put your enemies
off-balance: Find the chink in their vanity through which you can rattle them
and you hold the strings.

Law 40

Despise the Free Lunch

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

Law 41

Avoid Stepping into a Great Man’s Shoes

What happens
first always appears better and more original than what comes after.  If you succeed a great man or have a famous
parent, you will have to accomplish double their achievements to outshine them.  Do not get lost in their shadow, or stuck in
a past not of your own making:  Establish
your own name and identity by changing course. 
Slay the overbearing father, disparage his legacy, and gain power by
shining in your own way.

Law 42

Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep will Scatter

Trouble can often
be traced to a single strong individual – the stirrer, the arrogant underling,
the poisoned of goodwill.  If you allow
such people room to operate, others will succumb to their influence.  Do not wait for the troubles they cause to
multiply, do not try to negotiate with them – they are irredeemable.  Neutralize their influence by isolating or
banishing them.  Strike at the source of
the trouble and the sheep will scatter.

Law 43

Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others

Coercion creates
a reaction that will eventually work against you.  You must seduce others into wanting to move
in your direction.  A person you have
seduced becomes your loyal pawn.  And the
way to seduce others is to operate on their individual psychologies and
weaknesses.  Soften up the resistant by
working on their emotions, playing on what they hold dear and what they
fear.  Ignore the hearts and minds of
others and they will grow to hate you.

Law 44

Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect

The mirror
reflects reality, but it is also the perfect tool for deception: When you
mirror your enemies, doing exactly as they do, they cannot figure out your
strategy.  The Mirror Effect mocks and
humiliates them, making them overreact. 
By holding up a mirror to their psyches, you seduce them with the
illusion that you share their values; by holding up a mirror to their actions,
you teach them a lesson.  Few can resist
the power of Mirror Effect.

Law 45

Preach the Need for Change, but Never Reform too much at

understands the need for change in the abstract, but on the day-to-day level
people are creatures of habit.  Too much
innovation is traumatic, and will lead to revolt.  If you are new to a position of power, or an
outsider trying to build a power base, make a show of respecting the old way of
doing things.  If change is necessary,
make it feel like a gentle improvement on the past.

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 47

Do not go Past the Mark you Aimed for; In Victory, Learn
when to Stop

The moment of
victory is often the moment of greatest peril. 
In the heat of victory, arrogance and overconfidence can push you past
the goal you had aimed for, and by going too far, you make more enemies than
you defeat.  Do not allow success to go
to your head.  There is no substitute for
strategy and careful planning.  Set a
goal, and when you reach it, stop.

Law 48

Assume Formlessness

By taking a
shape, by having a visible plan, you open yourself to attack.  Instead of taking a form for your enemy to
grasp, keep yourself adaptable and on the move. 
Accept the fact that nothing is certain and no law is fixed.  The best way to protect yourself is to be as
fluid and formless as water; never bet on stability or lasting order.  Everything changes.







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