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Law 1: Never Outshine The Master.

Law 1: Never Outshine The Master.

Everyone has insecurities. Those who attain high standing in life want to feel secure in their positions, and superior to those around them.

  • Commit harmless mistakes that will not hurt you in the long run but will give you the chance to ask for his help.
  • Make it clear that your advice is merely an echo of his advice.
  • You cannot worry about upsetting every person you come across but you must be selectively cruel. If he is very weak and ready to fall, let nature takes its course.

Key to Power: Never take your position for granted.

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10.2K reads

Law 2: Never Put Too Much Trust In Friends, Learn To Use Enemies.

  • People forget the favors they have received and imagine they have earned their success on their own merits.
  • While a friend expects more and more favors and seethes with jealousy, these former enemies expect nothing and got everything.

Key to Power: Judge who is best able to further your interests in all situations. Keep friends for friendship, but work with the skilled and competent.


8.1K reads

Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions.

Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions.

Part I: Use Red Herrings.

  • Our first instinct is to always trust appearances.
  • Cultivate an air of honesty in one area to disguise dishonesty in other.
  • Kill three birds with one stone: appear friendly, conceal your intentions, and send your rivals on time-consuming wild-goose chases.

Part II: Use Smoke Screens.

  • The paranoid and wary are often the easiest to deceive.
  • Win their trust in one area, and you have a smoke screen that blinds them in another.
  • The best deception is bland and inconspicuous, which calls no attention.

Key to Power: If you keep people off the balance, they can't counter your efforts


5.97K reads

Law 4: Always Say Less Than Necessary.

  • Power is, in many ways, a game of appearance, and when you say less than necessary, you inevitably appear more powerful than you are.
  • Once the words are out, you cannot take them back.
  • Short answers and silences will put people on the defensive, nervously filling the silence with all kinds of comments that will reveal valuable information about them and their weaknesses.

Key to Power: The less you say, the more intimidating you are.


5.31K reads

Law 5: So Much Depends On Reputation—Guard It With Your Life.

  • Establish a reputation for one outstanding quality that sets you apart and gets other people to talk about you.
  • A solid reputation increases your presence and exaggerates your strengths without having to spend much energy.
  • It is wise to associate with someone whose image counteracts your own, using their good name to whitewash and elevate yours.

Key to Power: When you have a solid reputation, you can undermine your opponent's efforts with ridicule.


4.66K reads

Law 6: Court Attention At All Cost.

  • Every crowd has a silver lining and they tend to act in conjunction.
  • Attach your name and reputation to a quality, an image, that sets you apart from other people.
  • Attack the most visible, most famous, most powerful person you can find.
  • The quality of attention is irrelevant.
  • An element of mystery can give you an intimidating presence as a leader.

Key to Power: Play against people's expectations and welcome negative attention. 

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4.17K reads

Law 7: Get Others To Do The Work For You, But Always Take The Credit.

Law 7: Get Others To Do The Work For You, But Always Take The Credit.

  • The credit for an invention or creation is as important, if not more important, than the invention itself.
  • Keep your creation quiet until you can be sure there are no vultures circling overhead.
  • Learn to take advantage of other people’s work to further your own cause.
  • Use the past, a vast storehouse of knowledge and wisdom to build on the achievement of others.

Key to Power: Don't waste time and energy, when you can simply wait for the right moment, then take others' lunch.


3.57K reads

Law 8: Make Other People Come To You—Use Bait If Necessary.

  • Master your anger yet play on people’s natural tendency to react angrily when pushed and baited.

Key to Power: Keep the initiative, to get others to react to your moves and keep them on the defensive.


3.94K reads

Law 9: Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument.

  • When you argue with someone, even if they seem to agree with you, you can never be certain how they will react.
  • Demonstrating your point is more effective and powerful. 

Key to Power: Learn to demonstrate the correctness of your ideas indirectly.


3.44K reads

Law 10: Infection — Avoid The Unhappy And Unlucky.

  • People are highly susceptible to the emotions and pathologies of those they spend time with.
  • The most damaging types of infectors are those who are perpetually dissatisfied and aggrieved.

Key to Power: Choose who you are associated with carefully. 


3.35K reads

Law 11: Learn To Keep People Dependent On You.

Law 11: Learn To Keep People Dependent On You.

  • Do not mistake independence for power; power requires a relationship.
  • Fear you can control; love, never. Better to have others depend on you out of fear of the consequences of losing you than out of love for your company.
  • Make yourself so indispensable that your superior is afraid to find out what their life would be like without you. 

Key to Power: Cultivate an irreplaceable talent or skill


2.97K reads

Law 12: Use Selective Honesty And Generosity to Disarm Your Victim.

  • Give before you take.
  • Selective honesty is best employed on your first encounter with someone.
  • Calculated acts of kindness can turn a Capone into a gullible child.
  • Exceptions: When you have a history of deceit behind you, no generosity will fool people.

Key to Power: Win people's hearts and you can set up your scheme without being noticed. 


2.86K reads

Law 13: When Asking For Help, Appeal To People’s Self-Interest, Never To Their Mercy or Gratitude.

  • Achieving power often requires seeking help from those above you.
  • To succeed in getting what you want, you need to understand their motives and tie them in with yours.

Key to Power: Understand the person you are dealing with, and not confuse your needs with theirs.


2.7K reads

Law 14: Pose As A Friend, Work As A Spy.

  • Use spies or be a spy yourself.
  • Pay attention at social gatherings where people's guards are downs.
  • Share a fake confession and someone else will give you a real one.

Key to Power: Suppress oneself in the conversation, to make others talk endlessly about themselves and inadvertently reveal their intentions and plans.


2.43K reads

Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally.

  • Chinese history abounds with examples of leaders who left their enemies alive out of mercy but returned to haunt them.
  • Recognize that you will accumulate enemies who you cannot bring over to your side, and that to leave them any escape will mean you are never secure.
  • When we sympathize with our enemies, we only strengthen their hate, and they will someday take revenge.

Key to Power: Annihilate your enemy. Do not show leniency.


2.1K reads

Law 16: Use Absence to Increase Honor and Respect.

Law 16: Use Absence to Increase Honor and Respect.

  • Preserve and enhance your status by withdrawing at the right moment, just before people start getting tired of you.
  • Make yourself less accessible to increase your value in others' minds.
  • Image: The Sun. It can only be appreciated in its absence. The longer the days of rain, the more the sun is craved. But too many hot days and the sun overwhelms.

Key to Power: Scarcity increases value.

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2.07K reads

Law 17: Keep Others in Suspended Terror—Cultivate An Air of Unpredictability.

  • Nothing is more terrifying than the sudden and unpredictable. We do not know when they will strike. After one has occurred, we wait in terror for the next one.
  • Unpredictability draws attention and gets people talking, especially if you are the underdog. 

Key to Power: Instill a kind of fear by deliberately unsettling those around him to keep the initiative on his side.


1.89K reads

Law 18: Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself—Isolation is Dangerous.

  • Maintaining power requires social interaction.
  • An isolated person is an easy target with limited access to information.
  • Choose isolation only as a last resort

Key to Power: When faced with threats, resist the urge to isolate yourself. 


2K reads

Law 19: Know Who You’re Dealing With — Do Not Offend the Wrong Person.

The Arrogant and Proud Man: Any perceived slight will lead to a vengeance of overwhelming violence. Flee these people.

The Hopelessly Insecure Man: Attack you in small bites that will take forever to get big enough for you to notice. Do not stay around him.

Mr.Suspicion: Sees the worse in others and imagines that everyone is after him. Easy to deceive — get him to turn on others.

Key to Power: Never trust appearances or only rely on your instincts when judging someone; instead gather concentrated knowledge.


1.75K reads

Law 20: Do Not Commit To Anyone.

Law 20: Do Not Commit To Anyone.

Part I: Be Courted By All.

Play the Virgin Queen: Give them hope but never satisfaction.

  • Put yourself in the middle between competing powers.
  • Lure one side with the promise of your help; the other side, always wanting to outdo its enemy, will pursue you as well.

Part II: Stay Above The Fray.

When the fighting parties are good and tired they will be ripe for the picking.

  • People who rush to the support of others tend to gain little respect, for their help is so easily obtained.

Key to Power: Keep yourself free of commitments and obligations—they are the device of another to get you into his power.


1.61K reads

Law 21: Play A Sucker to Catch A Sucker — Seem Dumber Than Your Mark

  • Intelligence, taste, and sophistication are all things you can downplay to reassure others they are more advanced than you.
  • The easier they think it is to prey on you, the more easily you can turn the tables.

Key to Power: If you make other people feel smarter than you, they'll let down their guard and fail to notice your motives.


1.69K reads

Law 22: Use The Surrender Tactic — Transform Weakness into Power

  • When you are weak, there is nothing to be gained by fighting a useless fight. No one comes to help the weak.
  • People trying to make a show of their authority are easily deceived by the surrender tactic: inwardly you stay firm, but outwardly you bend.
  • Your outward sign of submission makes them feel important; satisfied that you respect them, they become easier targets for a later counterattack.

Key to Power: Lulling the enemy into complacency gives you time to recoup, time to undermine, and time for revenge. Never sacrifice that time in exchange for honor in a battle that you cannot win.


1.54K reads

Law 23: Concentrate Your Forces

  • Drunk with success and sick with ambition, empires expand to grotesque proportions and meet a ruin that is total.
  • Concentrate on a single goal and beat it into submission.
  • Extent alone never rises above mediocrity, and it is the misfortune of men with wide general interests that while they would like to have their finger in every pie, they have one in none.

Key to Power: Prioritize intensity over extensity. 


1.42K reads

Law 24: Play the Perfect Courtier

The Laws of Court Politics

  • Avoid Ostentation: modesty is always preferable.
  • Practice Nonchalance: your talent must appear to flow naturally, with ease.
  • Be Frugal with Flattery: flatter indirectly by being modest.
  • Arrange to be Noticed: pay attention to your appearance, and find a way to create a subtly distinctive style and image.
  • Never Be the Bearer of Bad News: the messenger is always killed. Bring only glad news.
  • Do Not Be the Court Cynic: express admiration for the good work of others.

Key to Power: Play by the rules of the environment and thrive in any situation. 


1.36K reads

Law 25: Re-Create Yourself.

  • Forge a new identity, one of your own making, one that has had no boundaries assigned to it.
  • Develop self-awareness to take control of your appearances and emotions.
  • Create a memorable character that compels attention.

Key to Power: Know how to be all things to all men. That is the art of winning over everyone, for like attracts like.


1.35K reads

Law 26: Keep Your Hands Clean.

Law 26: Keep Your Hands Clean.

Part I: Have a Scapegoat to Take The Blame.

Our good name and reputation depend more on what we conceal than on what we reveal.

  • Shift the guilt and sin to an outside figure—object, animal, or man—which is banished.
  • Set up the “Fall of the Favorite” — why would the king sacrifice him unless he were guilty?

Part II: Use A Cat’s Paw.

You need a cat’s paw—someone who does the dirty, dangerous work for you.

  • Do everything pleasant yourself, everything unpleasant through third parties.

Key to Power: All men make mistakes, but the wise conceal the blunders they have made, while fools make them public.


1.12K reads

Law 27: Play On People’s Need to Believe to Create A Cult-Like Following.

  • Keep it Vague; Keep it Simple: Most people want to hear that a simple solution will cure their problems.
  • Emphasize the Visual and the Sensual over the Intellectual: Create a spectacle.
  • Borrow the Forms of Organized Religion: Organise followers into a hierarchy, rank them in grades of sanctity, and give them titles.
  • Set Up an Us-Verses-Them Dynamic: Unified by your goals, manufacture the notion of a common enemy out to ruin you all.

Key to Power: People have a desperate need to believe in something, and belong to a cause. Become the magnet, the invisible force that attracts people's imaginations.


1.13K reads

Law 28: Enter Action With Boldness.

  • The Bolder The Better: Ask for the moon and you’ll be surprised how often you get it. The largeness of scale deceives the human eye.
  • Lions Circle the Hesitant Prey: Everything depends on perception, and once you demonstrate a willingness to compromise, you will be pushed around without mercy.
  • Boldness Strikes Fear; Fear Creates Authority: 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.

Key to Power: Root out the habit of timidity and replace it with boldness.


1.05K reads

Law 29: Plan All The Way To The End.

  • The ending is everything that determines the glory, the money, the prize.
  • Overcome the natural tendency to react to things as they happen, and instead train oneself to step back.
  • So much of power is not what you do but what you do not do—the rash and foolish actions that you refrain from before they get you into trouble.

Key to Power: Begin with an end in mind.


1.03K reads

Law 30: Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless.

  • Research and practice endlessly before appearing in public.
  • Conceal the effort behind one’s work. One never sees the source of a god’s power revealed; one only sees its effects.
  • Revealing tricks lets others use them against you.
  • The more mystery surrounds your actions, the more awesome your power seems—the appearance of having an exclusive gift.

Key to Power: Make it seem easy. 


1.07K reads

Law 31: Control the Options — Get Others To Play With The Cards You Deal.

  • Withdrawal and disappearance are classic ways of controlling the options.
  • Give people a sense of how things will fall apart without you, and you offer them a “choice”: I stay away, and you suffer the consequences, or I return under circumstances that I dictate.
  • Color the Choices: Propose multiple solutions but always present the favored option as the best compared to the others.
  • The Shrinking Options: Raise the price every time the buyer hesitates and another day goes by.

Key to Power: Control the options to disguise yourself as an agent of power and punishment.


988 reads

Law 32: Play to People’s Fantasies.

Law 32: Play to People’s Fantasies.

  • The Reality: Change is slow and gradual. It requires hard work, a bit of luck, a fair number of sacrifices, and a lot of patience.
  • The Fantasy: A sudden transformation will bring a total change in one’s fortunes, bypassing work, luck, self-sacrifice, and time in one fantastic stroke.
  • Image: The Moon. Unattainable, always changing shape, disappearing and reappearing. We look at it, imagine, wonder, and pine—never familiar, continuous provoker of dreams. Do not offer the obvious. Promise the moon.

Key to Power: Promise the moon at the right moment, when spirits are low.


944 reads

Law 33: Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew.

  • Find the Helpless Child: Most weaknesses begin in childhood before the self builds up compensatory defenses.
  • Find the Weak Link: Win the favor of those behind the scenes and you indirectly influence the king. Find the one person who will bend under pressure.
  • Fill the Void: Insecurity and unhappiness.
  • Feed on Uncontrollable Emotions: Passions and obsessions that cannot be controlled—Lust, Greed, Vanity, Hatred. People’s need for validation and recognition, their need to feel important, is the best kind of weakness to exploit.

Key to Power: Exploit others' weaknesses.


956 reads

Law 34: Be Royal In Your Own Fashion: Act Like A King to Be Treated Like One.

  • It is within your power to set your own price.
  • Ask for less and that is just what you will get. Ask for more, however, and you send a signal that you are worth a king’s ransom.
  • The Strategy of the Crown: If we believe we are destined for great things, our belief will radiate outward, just as a crown creates an aura around a king.
  • The David and Goliath Strategy: By choosing a great opponent, you create the appearance of greatness.
  • The Patreon Strategy: Give a gift to those above you.

Key to Power: Do not wait for a coronation; the greatest emperors crown themselves.


898 reads

Law 35: Master the Art of Timing.

Law 35: Master the Art of Timing.

  • Power rarely ends up in the hands of those who start a revolution; power sticks to those who bring a conclusion.
  • Long Time: Have remarkable patience, control your emotions, and take advantage of opportunities when they arise.
  • Forced Time: Upset the timing of our opponents.
  • End Time: Recognize the spirit of times and act decisively. Bring things to a swift and definitive conclusion.

Key to Power: Be patient and wait for your moment. Recognize when the time is right and act decisively.


869 reads

Law 36: Disdain Things You Cannot Have — Ignoring Them Is The Best Revenge.

  • You choose to let things bother you. Turn your back on what cannot harm you in the long run.
  • If there is something you want but that you realize you cannot have, the worse thing you can do is draw attention to your disappointment by complaining about it.
  • Treat your mistakes lightly.

Key to Power: Learn to distinguish between the potentially disastrous and the nuisance. Most small troubles will vanish on their own if you leave them be.


880 reads

Law 37: Create Compelling Spectacles.

  • Words stir up arguments and division; images, which bypass rational thought, create powerful emotional associations.
  • Use symbols to rally, excite, and unify your followers.
  • If you have to explain yourself your power is already in question.

Key to Power: People do not always want words or rational explanations; they want an immediate appeal to their emotions.


874 reads

Law 38: Think As You Like But Behave Like Others.

  • Most unconventional people learn to blend in with others and to share their differing views only with like-minded people.
  • Display conventional behavior and mouth conventional ideas without having to believe in them.
  • Once you have established yourself in a position of power, you can try to convince a wider circle of the correctness of your ideas.
  • Play the clever fox and feign the common touch.

Key to Power: Recognize the invaluable ability to be all things to all people.


839 reads

Law 39: Stir Up Waters to Catch Fish.

Law 39: Stir Up Waters to Catch Fish.

  • When the waters are still, your opponents have the time and space to plot against you. So stir the waters, force the fish to the surface, get them to act before they are ready, and steal the initiative.
  • Play on uncontrollable emotions: pride, vanity, love, and hate.
  • Tantrums neither intimidate nor inspire loyalty. They only create doubts and uneasiness about your power.
  • Look at the emotional outburst as a disguised power move, an attempt to control or punish you cloaked in the form of hurt feelings and anger.

Key to Power: Keep your head while others are losing theirs.


766 reads

Law 40: Despise the Free Lunch.

  • What is offered free often comes with a psychological price tag.
  • Everything must be judged by its cost, and everything has a price.
  • Value the strategic generosity — “give when you are about to take” and put the recipient under obligation.
  • Be flexible with your wealth, putting it to work, not to buy objects, but to win people’s hearts.
  • Humans instill objects with meaning and value—these are what make them worth having.

Key to Power: Use money as a tool of power to strategically enhance your reputation. 


846 reads

Law 41: Avoid Stepping into A Great Man’s Shoes.

  • Many successors struggle when they have to succeed a great leader parent.
  • The father most often manages to amass his fortune, his kingdom, because he begins with little or nothing.
  • When a man like this has a son, he becomes domineering and oppressive, imposing his lessons on the son, who is starting off life in different circumstances than him.
  • The son will never step out of his father’s shadow unless he disparages the past and creates his own kingdom.

Key to Power: Never let yourself be seen as following your predecessor’s path. Establish a style and symbolism that sets you apart.


787 reads

Law 42: Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep Will Scatter.

Law 42: Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep Will Scatter.

  • In every group, there is a person who controls the power, determining the group's effectiveness. 
  • Find the source and isolate them: physically, politically, or psychologically.
  • Lure him away from their power base at the critical moment.
  • Image: A Flock of Fatted Sheep. Do not waste precious time trying to steal a sheep or two. Aim at the shepherd. Lure him away and the dogs will follow. Strike him down and the flock will scatter—you can pick them off one by one.

Key to Power: Strike the one head that matters the most—the person with willpower, smarts, or most important of all, charisma. 


750 reads

Law 43: Work On the Hearts and Minds of Others.

  • The key to persuasion is working on people's emotions and playing on their intellectual weaknesses.
  • Play on Contrasts: Push people to despair, then give them relief. If they expect pain and you give them pleasure, you win their hearts.
  • A great cause may capture minds, but once the first flush of excitement is over, interest will flag—unless there is something to be gained.

Key to Power: Win hearts and minds through people's emotions and weaknesses.


806 reads

Law 44: Disarm and Infuriate With the Mirror Effect.

  • The Neutralizing Effect: Do what your enemies do, following their actions as best you can, and they cannot see what you are up to—they are blinded by your mirror.
  • The Narcissus Effect: Reflect their desires, values, and tastes.
  • The Moral Effect: Give them a taste of their own medicine.
  • The Hallucinatory Effect: Create a perfect copy of an object, a place, a person, that people take for the real thing.

Key to Power: Use mirror effects to disturb others, giving you the power to manipulate and seduce them. 


787 reads

Law 45: Preach the Need for Change, But Never Reform Too Much At Once.

  • Humans are creatures of habit and change upsets our routines.
  • The man who initiates strong reforms often becomes the scapegoat for any kind of dissatisfaction.
  • Preach change, but maintain the comforting appearance of familiar traditions.

Key to Power: Say the right things, make a show of conformity, and meanwhile let your theories do their radical work.


833 reads

Law 46: Never Appear Too Perfect.

Never Underestimate the Power of Envy:

  • Once success happens, the people to fear the most are those in your own circle, the friends and acquaintances you have left behind.
  • Beware signs of envy: excessive praise, hypercritical people, public slandering.
  • Either dampen your brilliance occasionally, purposefully revealing a defect, or attribute your success to luck.

Key to Power: Occasionally admit to harmless vices to deflect envy.


852 reads

Law 47: Do Not Go Past the Mark You Aimed For; In Victory, Learn When to Stop.

Law 47: Do Not Go Past the Mark You Aimed For; In Victory, Learn When to Stop.

  • You must be guided by reason. To let a momentary thrill or an emotional victory influence or guide your movies will prove fatal.
  • History is littered with ruins of victorious empires and corpses of leaders who could not learn to stop and consolidate their gains.
  • Good luck is more dangerous than back luck, as it deludes you into thinking your own brilliance is the reason for your success.
  • The powerful vary their rhythms and patterns, change course, adapt to circumstances, and learn to improvise.

Key to Power: Begin with an end in mind (Law 29) and be guided by reason, not emotion. 


798 reads

Law 48: Assume Formlessness.

  • The powerful are not locked into a single system; they are constantly adapting their systems to suit their needs.
  • Learning to adapt to each new circumstance means seeing events through your own eyes and often ignoring the advice that people constantly peddle your way.
  • When you find yourself in conflict with someone stronger and more rigid, allow them a momentary victory—conform on the surface while breaking down your enemy from the inside.

Key to Power: Be flexible, fluid, and unpredictable.

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A Lifelong Learner, Med Student, and Content Creator on Personal Development — helping people lead happier, healthier, more productive lives.


Learn the Game of Power: Master your emotions. Play with appearances. Shift your perspective on the world. Learn from those who came before you.

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