The 48 Laws of Power aims to show that power is neither good nor evil, but amoral. It can be used by individuals of any morality for positive ends, and it’s only the situation in which power is used that makes its application right or wrong.
It was written by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers. Greene received his PhD in Renaissance studies from Yale University and has written extensively on power and strategy. Joost Elffers is an artist, publisher, and product designer.
Many people consider power to be an ugly thing. Those with the most tend to want least to do with it themselves or are at least wary of anyone else who displays that they have it. They feel that using power is somehow corrupting, and even those who aspire to obtain positions of influence almost never wish for it in its rawest form.
But power doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can be a force for good, wielded by those who understand its true nature and use it responsibly. In fact, many of the world’s great leaders have understood the power of power and used it to make positive changes in their societies.
The 48 Laws Of Power Summary with Each Law
The 48 Laws of Power is perfect for conquest, self-defence, or simply understanding the game’s principles. I have explained all the 48 laws in a concise way. Let`s have a look at it.
The #1 Law of Power – Use Your Position to Your Advantage (Carefully)
The first law of power is to never outshine the master. This means that individuals in positions of power should always be aware of those who are above them in the hierarchy and act accordingly. There can be no real power without followers, so any attempt to wield power will be fruitless unless one is able to inspire obedience.
A corollary of the first law is that it’s better for individuals in positions of power to make themselves seem smaller and less threatening than they are. This is possible by using certain tactics including using false humility or simply acting in a way that doesn’t draw attention to oneself.
The #2 Law of Power – Don`t Step in a Great Man Shoe
The second law is to avoid stepping into a great man’s shoes. This means that those in positions of power should be careful not to do anything that would create a vacancy at the top of the hierarchy. It also means being careful not to take on too many challenges at once, which can lead to overextension and a loss of power.
The #3 Law of Power – Timing Matters Most
The third law is to know when to act and when to hold back. Individuals in positions of power should never be impulsive but should carefully consider the consequences of their actions before taking any action. They should also be prepared to wait for the right opportunity before making their move.
The #4 Law of Power – Rules for Behaviour
The fourth law is to establish rules for one’s behaviour. Individuals in positions of power should have a clear idea of what they will and will not do so that there are no surprises and no opportunity for others to take advantage of them. This also helps to avoid any potential conflicts down the road.
The #5 Law of Power – Appear Magnanimous
The fifth law is to appear magnanimous but always act in one’s own self-interest. Individuals in positions of power should be generous and helpful to others, but only when it serves their own ends. This way, others will see them as benevolent leaders but will never be able to take advantage of them.
The #6 Law of Power – Never Depends on Numbers
The sixth law is to court popularity but never depend on it. Individuals in positions of power should take care to be well-regarded by those below them but should never rely on this perception since it’s the kind that is easily revoked. Only those who have built a power base can really afford to neglect their popularity among their followers.
The #7 Law of Power – Use Selective Honesty and Generosity
The seventh law is to use selective honesty and generosity as tools for getting what one wants. Individuals in positions of power should be honest and generous to those above them while cautiously observing the actions of others, all the while taking advantage of people’s hopes for their own self-interests.
The #8 Law of Power –
The eighth law is to deepen one’s understanding but maintain an aura of mystery. Knowledge can give individuals in positions of power a distinct advantage over their rivals, but they should be careful not to reveal too much about themselves. They should also be aware that the more they know, the more power they have.
The #9 Law of Power –
The ninth law is to never let others know what you really want. Individuals in positions of power should keep their goals and intentions secret so that others cannot plan against them. If their intentions are made public, it can give strength to their enemies and cause confusion among their supporters.
The #10 Law of Power –
The tenth law always says less than necessary; the art of the secret is knowing when to leave things unsaid. Individuals in positions of power should understand that there is a time for talk and a time for silence. If they are able to keep their motives and intentions hidden, they will be in a much better position to achieve their goals.
The #11 Law of Power –
The eleventh law is to use indirect methods to achieve one’s objectives. Individuals in positions of power should never confront their enemies head-on but should instead use cunning and deception to get what they want. This way, they can avoid any potential conflict and come out on top.
The #12 Law of Power –
The twelfth law is to cultivate a loyal following. Individuals in positions of power should never take their followers for granted and should work to keep them happy and content. They should also make sure that their followers are completely dependent on them so that they cannot be easily swayed by others.
The #13 Law of Power –
The thirteenth law is to maintain a positive public image. Individuals in positions of power should always be aware of how they are perceived by the public and should take steps to make sure that their image is one of strength and power. They should also avoid doing anything that could tarnish their reputation.
The #14 Law of Power –
The fourteenth law is to control information. Individuals in positions of power should only allow certain bits of knowledge to become public while keeping other things private. They should also employ a strategy in which they reveal information about themselves gradually and strategically so that their enemies cannot get a clear idea of how much they know and what they intend to do.
The #15 Law of Power –
The fifteenth law is to only give others the information that they need, not more. Individuals in positions of power should learn how to express themselves clearly and precisely so that their followers will always know what is expected of them. If they are too unclear or too direct, it can lead to confusion and resentment among their ranks.
The #16 Law of Power –
The sixteenth law is to use silence as a weapon. Individuals in positions of power should remain silent when the situation calls for it, showing their enemies that they are calm and collected while holding their unflinching resolve. They should also devise ways to speak indirectly so that others will not be able to tell what they truly want or think.
The #17 Law of Power –
The seventeenth law is to make everything seem legitimate. Individuals in positions of power should learn to give their orders so that others cannot tell the difference between what is actually being said or what is merely suggested. They can also talk about things as if they are already established facts, hoping that they will eventually become true through repetition alone.
The #18 Law of Power –
The eighteenth law is to use facts selectively and fault others for their mistakes. Individuals in positions of power should always be aware of what information they are using against others because it can be used against them later on. They should also place the blame for their mistakes elsewhere instead of owning up to them themselves.
The #19 Law of Power –
The nineteenth law is to know who you’re dealing with – do your research beforehand. Individuals in positions of power should always be aware of the people that they are dealing with because it will give them an advantage if they are able to correctly identify their enemies’ motives or intentions. They should also try to do their research by getting as much information about the individuals involved as possible.
The #20 Law of Power –
The twentieth law is to take things personally – never let them get to you. Individuals in positions of power should always remember that they are not immune to criticism and should never take things too personally. By keeping a level head, they can avoid making any rash decisions that could cost them their position.
The #21 Law of Power –
The twenty-first law is to use flattery to get what you want. Individuals in positions of power should always have a strategy that involves making others happy with them so that they are more willing to give them what they want. They can do this by using flattery or anything else that is appropriate for the situation.
The #22 Law of Power –
The twenty-second law is to play on people’s need to believe in something. Individuals in positions of power should always try to find a way to make their followers believe in something, whether it is a cause, an idea, or themselves. This can be done by using rhetoric and other persuasive techniques that will get people to buy into what they are selling.
The #23 Law of Power –
The twenty-third law is to conceal your intentions. Individuals in positions of power should always try to hide their true intentions from others by using clever ruses and cunning tactics that will allow them to get what they want without revealing what it is. They should make their enemies think the plan is something else in order to surprise them when it finally happens.
The #24 Law of Power –
The twenty-fourth law is to create a cult-like atmosphere. Individuals in positions of power should always create an atmosphere around themselves that will cause those who are involved to believe in them and surrender their personal freedoms for the greater good. This can be done by building a sense of community, having a charismatic leader figure, or using language that is important to those involved.
The #25 Law of Power – Re-Create Yourself
The twenty-fifth law is to appeal to people’s emotions. Individuals in positions of power should use emotional appeals to get people to do what they want. This can be done by playing on people’s fears, desires, or any other strong emotions that can be used to manipulate them.
The #26 Law of Power – Use The Enemy’s Own Tactics
The twenty-sixth law is to use the enemy’s own tactics against them. Individuals in positions of power should always be aware of the tactics that their enemies are using and try to use them against them. This can be done by mimicking their behavior, pretending to be on their side, or by using other methods that will confuse or mislead them.
The #27 Law of Power – Keep Your Hands Cleans
The twenty-seventh law is to keep your hands clean. Individuals in positions of power should always try to keep their hands clean by not doing anything illegal or unethical. This can be done by making sure that they have the proper legal and financial documentation in place, being honest with their followers, and avoiding any shady activities.
The #28 Law of Power – Use The Power of Illusion
The twenty-eighth law is to use the illusion of power. Individuals in positions of power should always try to act like they are in control even when they are not. This can be done by using confident body language, speaking with authority, and making sure that their followers know that they are in charge.
The #29 Law of Power – Know Your Surroundings
The twenty-ninth law is to know your surroundings. Individuals in positions of power should always be aware of the people and situations around them so that they can avoid any potential problems. They should know who their friends and enemies are, what the current political landscape looks like, and what is going on in the world at large.
The #30 Law of Power – Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless
The thirtieth law is to create a cult. Individuals in positions of power should try to create an entire culture around whatever it is that they are doing. This can be done by promoting certain ideas, incentivizing people, and using other methods that will make the entire group become loyal to one another and the cause.
The #31 Law of Power – Use Sex as a Weapon
The thirty-first law is to use sex as a weapon. Individuals in positions of power should use sex as a way to get what they want from others. This can be done by seducing people, blackmailing them, or using any other tactics that will give them an advantage.
The #32 Law of Power – Never Tell Everything.
The thirty-second law is to keep your followers in the dark and mislead them whenever possible. Your followers should not know more than you do about what is happening in the world. This will make them dependent on you for information and less likely to challenge your authority. You can also use this law to manipulate them into doing your bidding by feeding them false information or hiding the truth from them. When they are kept in the dark, they will be more likely to trust you and follow your lead.
The #33 Law of Power – The Right Way to Get Anything (Use Indirect Methods)
The thirty-third law is to use indirect methods. If you want something done, ask someone else to do it. This approach can be very effective when trying to avoid conflicts and confrontations. It also allows you to maintain a certain level of plausible deniability, which can be helpful if things go wrong. By using others to carry out your requests, you can avoid taking on any blame or responsibility. Indirect methods also allow you to maintain a certain level of secrecy and deception, which can be helpful in achieving your goals.
The #34 Law of Power – Be Royal in Your Own Way: Act Like a King if You Want to Be Treated Like One
The way you portray yourself to the world will influence how people perceive and treat you. Carry yourself with self-respect, confidence, and dignity to give the impression that you were born to rule. We must force ourselves to demand and expect the same things that a young child does. Believe you are destined for greatness, and this belief will spread, causing others to believe it as well. Ask for less, and you will receive less.
The #35 Law of Power – Master the Art of Timing
Never appear to be hurried — patience is a virtue. Learn to wait your turn and strike only when the moment is right. Because time is a perception, you may slow time down and stretch your vision of the future by mastering your emotions. This enables you to be more patient and understand the big picture.
The #36 Law of Power – Despise Things You Can’t Have: Ignoring Them Is the Best Retaliation
The less you care about things that upset you, the more superior you appear. By recognizing your adversary, you give their existence credence and, as a result, power. The more you want something, the more it eludes you since your want is too intense, making others uncomfortable and scared. Sometimes it’s best to just let things alone. You will drive your opponents insane if you turn your back on what you desire.
The #37 Law of Power – Make Eye-Catching Spectacles
You will increase your presence and strength by making huge, stunning gestures. People will be too distracted by appearances to figure out what you’re up to. Visual gestures, as opposed to words, have an effective strength and immediacy that leaves no space for doubt. Images unite where words fail. Take advantage of this.
The #38 Law of Power – Think as You Like, but Behave Like Others
People will grow to despise you for making them feel inferior if you constantly go against the norm in public. To cultivate the common touch, practice blending in and masking your genuine feelings. You will be left alone to communicate your genuine beliefs in a focused manner as a result of doing so. Once you’ve created a base of authority, you may progressively spread your beliefs, increasing the likelihood that they’ll be adopted.
The #39 Law of Power – Stir Up Waters to Catch Fish
You can obtain an advantage if you can remain calm while enraging your opponents. You can disturb and play with them at will by identifying their weaknesses. The more enraged they become, the more absurd they appear. Their power will be reduced as a result of this.
The #40 Law of Power – Despise the Free Lunch
Never put your reliance on something that is given away for free. Anything valuable is worth paying for. Most things that are given away for free come with a hefty psychological cost. You avoid the trap of having to be appreciative, guilty, or deceptive by paying. Furthermore, excessive spending is a symbol of dominance. Generosity softens your opponents, allowing them to be duped.
The #41 Law of Power – Avoid Stepping Into a Great Man’s Shoes
What came initially always appears to be more original than what comes after. Don’t get caught up in the shadows of those who have gone before you. You must forge your own name and identity by not following in the footsteps of your forefathers.
The #42 Law of Power – Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep Will Scatter
Almost all problems may be traced back to a single person. You can limit this individual’s effect by tracking them down and prohibiting them from operating. Don’t waste time, or their power will grow. Power is focused on one or two members in every group. As a result, knowing who dominates the organization is crucial. This is made more difficult by the fact that troublemakers prefer to conceal their acts. However, if their power is isolated, they become obsolete.
The #43 Law of Power – Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others
People will resent you if they feel pressured into acting in a certain way. Instead, you must seduce others so that they will do what you want without having to be asked. Understanding their psychology and weaknesses will allow you to manipulate their emotions and win their hearts and minds so that they will be loyal to you. You can gradually bend someone to your will by softening them up without them realizing it.
The #44 Law of Power – Disarm and Infuriate With the Mirror Effect
You humiliate your opponents and lead them to overreact by imitating them and doing exactly what they do. By convincing them that you share their beliefs, you make it difficult for them to figure out your approach since they are blinded by your mirror. You can also teach your adversaries a lesson by giving them a taste of their own medicine.
The #45 Law of Power – Preach the need for change, but don’t try to change too much at once.
Respect the way people have been living up to this point whether you have recently entered a position of power or are an outsider attempting to make a claim for it. An uprising will erupt if there is too much change. To bring change, present it as a gradual and progressive improvement over the past.
The #46 Law of Power – Never Appear Too Perfect
While seeming superior to others is risky, appearing immaculate and without flaws is much riskier. By showcasing mild vices, you avoid the development of envy and make oneself appear more approachable. Allowing envy to grow can lead to a slew of problems that will eventually try to deprive you of your authority. Stop it in its tracks by presenting yourself as powerful but not flawless.
The #47 Law of Power – Use Your Position to Your Advantage (Carefully)
The forty-seventh law is to use the power of your position to intimidate others. If someone poses a threat to your power or control, use your authority to scare them into submission. Show them who is in charge by making them fear you. Use your position to your advantage and make others think twice about crossing you. When they know that you have the power to hurt them, they will be less likely to challenge you.
The #48 Law of Power – Reserve The Right to Change Your Mind
The forty-eighth law is to reserve the right to change your mind. Always keep your options open and be prepared to walk away from a situation if it does not benefit you. Never commit to anything or anyone and always be ready to change your mind. This will keep others guessing and unsure of what they can expect from you. They will never know what you are going to do next, which will give you an edge in any situation.
Quotes From The 48 Laws of Power
“When you show yourself to the world and display your talents, you naturally stir all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity… you cannot spend your life worrying about the petty feelings of others”
“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 honours the timid.”
“Keep your friends for friendship, but work with the skilled and competent”
“Do not leave your reputation to chance or gossip; it is your life’s artwork, and you must craft it, hone it, and display it with the care of an artist.”
“Never waste valuable time, or mental peace of mind, on the affairs of others—that is too high a price to pay.”
“Many a serious thinker has been produced in prisons, where we have nothing to do but think.”
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.”
More Books by Robert Greene
- The Art of Seduction (2001)
- The 33 Strategies of War (2005)
- Mastery (2012)
- The Laws of Human Nature (2018)
This multi-million-copy New York Times blockbuster – from the author of The Laws of Human Nature – is the essential instruction for anybody interested in attaining, monitoring, or guarding against ultimate control.
Robert Greene and Joost Elffers have distilled three thousand years of the history of power into 48 essential laws in the book that People magazine called “beguiling” and “fascinating,” drawing from the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Carl Von Clausewitz, as well as the lives of figures ranging from Henry Kissinger to P.T. Barnum.
Read this book and share your experience with us by commenting on us.
Happy Reading 🙂