The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene Summary

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The 48 Laws of Power is a book written by Robert Greene in which Greene talks about the life experience of some powerful historical figures from which he wants to give a lesson to every individual and wants to set laws that one should follow to become the power in their lives.

Greene says in his book that whether you like it not or, in this life, you’re always a part of some never-ending game. One of two things will happen: either you will become powerful and wield power, or you will become the pawn of someone more powerful than you. The choice is yours.

Why are there 48 Laws of Power, and how do you apply them? Laws like these are for those who prefer to be players rather than pawns. A master player knows the 48 laws of power. These laws are based on examples of both glorious and bloody outcomes resulting from people who excelled and failed to wield power in the past. You’ll learn five key concepts: take credit for others’ work, keep others dependent on you, control all the options, don’t take sides, create a cult following, and don’t get dirty. There is no escape from these rules – you can choose to follow them or disregard them.

The 48 Laws of Power
The 48 Laws of Power

Likewise, feeling powerless is a miserable experience and nobody wants to experience that. For example, A daily-wage laborer doesn’t have any choice but to work non-stop for the entire day to earn something for his family, so that they can eat. He is powerless and his maters hold that power. But if given choice, everyone wants to be more powerful rather than less. Greene in his book states that the more power you’ll hold, the better friend, lover, or person you’ll become.

The 48 Laws of Power

Let’s see what are these unique 48 laws of power by Robert Greene:

Law 1: Never Outshine the Master

You should always ensure that those who are above you should always feel superior. Never make them feel that they are below you because an insecure boss can strongly retaliate against you more than others.

Law 2: Never put too Much Trust in Friends, Learn How to Use Enemies

Always keep a close eye on your friends – do not trust them blindly because friends tend to backstab you more rather than your enemies as they’ll be more loyal to you to prove you wrong every time.

Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions

Always hide your true intention. Do not let anyone know what you’re thinking or what will be your next step. Keep them in dark because following this they can never counter you.

Law 4: Always Say Less than Necessary

Having a big mouth will lead to big troubles. Always say less than necessary. Leave another person in doubt or let them interpret. The less you say, the more intimidating and powerful you will become.

Law 5: So Much Depends on Reputation — Guard It with Your Life

Always guard your reputation in every scenario because reputation is an integral part of the power. With a strong image or reputation in the market, you can influence anyone.

Law 6: Create an Air of Mystery

Always try to be the center of attraction, be outrageous, and create your aura mysteriously. Attention brings wealth.

Law 7: Get Others to Do the Work for You, but Always Take the Credit

Make others work for you, use their time, energy, and skill to further become ambitious, and take credit for their work.

Law 8: Make Other People Come to You — Use Bait if Necessary

Make your enemies or opponents come to you. When you force someone to do some act – you’re in power. Bait them and then attack.

Law 9: Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument

There’s a saying Actions speak louder than your words. Demonstrate your statement through your actions rather than arguing. Because people tend to believe more on events rather than saying.

Law 10: Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky

Avoid miserable and unhappy people. They tend to spoil your aura as well as your thought process also.

Law 11: Learn to Keep People Dependent on You

Always be so efficient in your work that your superior should be dependent on you. Because the more they will depend on you for work the more you’ll get the freedom and security to pursue your goals.

Law 12: Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm Your Victim

Use honesty and generosity to disarm your enemy because the most suspicious people act mostly with kindness and leave their opponent in manipulation.

Law 13: When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to their Mercy or Gratitude

When you need help from someone, give something in return. So, that they’ll help you without any hesitation and you’ll not sound demanding, irritating or desperate.

Law 14: Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy

Be friendly, sympathetic, and interested to get to know people so that they’ll share their deepest feelings with you. Because when you are aware of your opponent’s ideas you can predict his behavior and control them.

Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally

Crush your enemy completely. Don’t even let them breathe without your permission otherwise it will eventually ignite. You cannot afford to be lenient.

Law 16: Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor

Once you’re famous, don’t be so welcomed about everything. Because the more you’ll be seen or heard it will cheapen your brand or you.

Law 17: Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability

Throw others off balance and unnerve them with random, unpredictable acts. You’ll gain the upper hand.

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

Never isolate yourself when you’re under pressure. Be aware of every situation happening because when the real danger comes you’ll be aware of it without getting shocked.

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

If you are attempting to deceive someone, you should know who you are dealing with beforehand, so you do not waste time or cause a reaction.

Law 20: Do Not Commit to Anyone

You will remain in control if you ignore commitments to anyone or any cause but yourself. By remaining independent, you will be able to pit one side against another.

Law 21: Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker – Seem Dumber Than Your Mark

Make sure your intended victims don’t suspect any ulterior motives from you because they are smarter than you.

Law 22: Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness into Power

It is better to surrender when you are weaker than to fight for honor. By doing so, you get time to work on building strength and undermining your opponent. This will eventually lead to victory.

Law 23: Concentrate Your Forces

Utilize your resources and energies where you will be able to make the greatest impact or obtain the greatest benefit. Unless you do so, your efforts and time will be wasted.

Law 24: Play the Perfect Courtier

To avoid unfavorable attention, you should learn the rules of the society in which you are playing. As part of this, you should appear as a team player and criticize diplomatically.

Law 25: Re-Create Yourself

Rather than letting others define you, create your own unique image. Dress appropriately for each occasion and show your true emotions. A person who looks more impressive than life attracts admiration and power.

Law: 26: Keep Your Hands Clean

It’s inevitable to make mistakes, whether you’re dealing with an unpleasant situation or making a mistake. You can keep your hands clean by locating scapegoats to blame and by having others do the dirty work.

Law 27: Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cult-like Following

People need someone to follow and something to believe in. Be vague, but make your promises exciting. If they feel they belong, they will respond. Those who follow you line your pockets, and those who oppose you fear to rile them.

Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness

Be bold in your actions, and if you make a mistake, correct it with even greater boldness. Power comes from being bold.

Law 29: Plan All the Way to the End

You need a clear end goal when you make detailed plans. Consider every possibility. Stay on course. By not doing so, you run the risk of being caught off guard and forced to react quickly.

Law 30: Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless

Your effortlessness will inspire awe in others and make you appear powerful. Conversely, you lose respect when you over-emphasize your efforts and your achievement seems less impressive.

Law 31: Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards You Deal

Make the public feel like they have a choice in order to deceive them. It is best to limit their choices to a few that will benefit you no matter what they choose. It will feel like their choice, but the strings will be pulled by you.

Law 32: Play to People’s Fantasies

Find the words that will motivate or re-chant the world, it will charm your audience. Truth is ugly and no one wants to accept it, so they always find something to blame – the world, the god, the luck. Likewise, never appeal to reality or tell truth if you’re not ready to face the consequences of it.

Law 33: Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew

The strongest person on the earth also has some weaknesses, find that weakness and make them dependent on you. Later, you can take advantage of it.

Law 34: Be Royal in Your Own Fashion: Act Like a King to Be Treated Like One

Even if you’re a normal person, act as royalty and people will treat you that way only. Build that confidence of having dignity and make-believe that you’re destined for great things and they will believe it.

Law 35: Master the Art of Timing

Don’t be in hurry always. Be patient. Wait for the right time and then speak or take some decision.

Law 36: Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them Is the Best Revenge

Ignore some problems that don’t concern you because reacting to some problems will make you look bad your enemies will think that you care. Don’t give them that opportunity to think.

Law 37: Create Compelling Spectacles

Build your strong image, make use of symbols or icons. Because what people see leaves a great impact on them than what they hear.

Law 38: Think as You Like But Behave Like Others

Don’t let anyone feel down or don’t embarrass them also, because if they’ll think that you have an attitude they will turn against you.

Law 39: Stir Up Waters to Catch Fish

Always think wisely, and stay calm and patient. If you lose your control in anger, your enemies will take advantage of it. But if you make your enemies angry, you can take control.

Law 40: Despise the Free Lunch

Use the money to make people on your side. Send gifts, allure them infancies and they’ll become loyal to you.

Law 41: Avoid Stepping Into a Great Man’s Shoes

If you’re successful or famous, set your own standards. Don’t repeat your mistakes from the past, learn from them.

Law 42: Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep Will Scatter

In a group of people, one individual is always a rival. Stop them before he influences other people also.

Law 43: Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others

Win other’s minds and hearts. Play with their emotions and weaknesses for your self-interest. Make them that much dependent on you that they’ll only eat when you will feed them, They’ll always be loyal to you.

Law 44: Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect

Seduce people by sharing or respecting their values. Mirror their emotions or behavior, make them believe that you are their friends. They’ll be so grateful to you that they’ll never even notice your true ulterior motive.

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

Don’t change something so much for your own good, otherwise, later it will bite you. Be wise and optimize your actions rationally.

Law 46: Never Appear Too Perfect

Never try to be perfect. Sometimes show your flaws. Don’t forget your humanity. Admit your weaknesses and emphasize your luck.

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

Don’t let your emotion come in between if you’ve won something. Victory is dangerous sometimes. Likewise don’t be so attitude that you’ve won something.

Law 48: Assume Formlessness

Be flexible, fluid, and unpredictable, don’t let your opponent think that how you’ll react in some situation. They’ll not be able to figure out how to respond in front of you.

Above are all laws of power that one individual can implement in their lives to hold power and can become successful.