Chances are you’re not a politician, sociopath, or psychopath (*cough* often interchangeable *cough*), so you’re probably not much interested in the arts of obtaining, wielding, and preserving power.
Your primary focus is probably producing a better life for yourself and your loved ones and allowing others to do the same.
Thus, you might think this book isn’t for you. And you’d be wrong.
Your liberal (in the classical meaning, mind you) attitude is a good thing—the type of impulse that promotes peace, security, and prosperity—but it’s naive to assume everyone else operates the same way.
Some people who can’t survive on their own merits are parasites. Others believe they know best and seek to impose their ideas on everyone else. Others still are dominated by antisocial urges that command them to “do unto others before they do unto you.”
Such bad actors are many and often specialize in self-aggrandizement, so you’ll often find them in high places in organizations, commerce, government, and society in general.
This means that unless you plan on operating in complete isolation, you’re going to be involved in the machinations of power whether you realize it or not. And your ultimate success or failure is going to depend at least in part on your ability to advance and protect your interests (power) against those who would stop you.
That, then, is one of the reasons you should read this book: to avoid the tricks and traps of those who would use power to harm and hinder you. That is, to beat them at their own game.
The other, more positive, side of that coin is you should read this book to upgrade your ability to affect your will—to create the body and life you really want. Again, unless your dreams involve you and only you, they’re going to require the considerable accumulation and use of power in the forms of persuasion, inspiration, cooperation, reputation, compulsion, and others.
This book gives you information you can use to form your own “power playbook” to facilitate your goals.
Some people find 48 Laws distasteful because of its cynical disregard of morality, but this is hardly a reason to condemn or avoid it. In fact, I think we can benefit from its clinical, unprincipled posture because it allows us first to observe what works and then decide for ourselves what’s right.
For example, in the book, Greene says the following:
Honesty is one of the best ways to disarm the wary, but it is not the only one. Any kind of noble, apparently selfless act will serve. Perhaps the best such act, though, is one of generosity. Few people can resist a gift, even from the most hardened enemy, which is why it is often the perfect way to disarm people. A gift brings out the child in us, instantly lowering our defenses.
This is true. It works. Honesty and generosity are powerful psychological influencers that can be used for good or evil. Whether you use them to exploit or enrich is up to you.
Let’s get to the takeaways.
Would you rather read about my top 5 takeaways from The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene? Then check out this article!
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