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.
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 them.
(Read the entire Law 2)
Conceal Your Intentions
Keep 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, envelop them in enough smoke, and by the time they realize
your intentions, it will be too late.
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
sphinxlike. Powerful people impress and
intimidate by saying less. The more you say,
the more likely you are to say something foolish.
So Much Depends on Reputation Guard it with Your Life *
Reputation is the
cornerstone of power. Through reputation
alone you can intimidate and win; once it
slips, however, you are vulnerable, and will
be attacked on all sides. Make your reputation unassailable. Always be
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.
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 masses.
(Read the entire Law 6)
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
do yourself what others can do for you.
Make other People Come to you use Bait if Necessary
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.
Win Through Your Actions, Never through Argument
Any momentary triumph you
think you have 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
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
diseases. 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.
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.
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 you
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.
When Asking for Help, Appeal to People's Self-Interest, Never to Their Mercy
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.
(Read the entire Law 13)
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.
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.
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.
Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability
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.
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.
Know Who You're Dealing With Do Not Offend the Wrong Person *
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.
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
Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker Seem Dumber than Your Mark
No one likes feeling stupider than the next person. The trick, then, 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.
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 cheek you infuriate
and unsettle him. Make surrender a tool of power.
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.
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 most 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.
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 it for you. Incorporate dramatic devices
into your public gestures and actions your
power will be enhanced and your character
will seem larger than life.
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
unwitting pawns and screens to disguise your
Play on People's Need to Believe to Create a Cultlike Following
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.
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.
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.
(Read the entire Law 29)
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.
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.
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 from 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.
Discover Each Man's Thumbscrew
Everyone has a weakness, a gap in the castle
wall. That weakness is usually 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
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 crown.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 power.
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.
Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep Will Scatter
Trouble can often be traced to a single
strong individual the stirrer, the arrogant
underling, the poisoner 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.
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.
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 the Mirror
Preach the Need for Change, but Never Reform Too Much at Once
Everyone 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.
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
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.
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.