In this five-part series, I want to discuss individualism and power by analyzing the brilliant book, The 48 Laws of Power.
What Is The 48 Laws of Power?
The 48 Laws of Power is, without a hint of hyperbole, a masterpiece. Robert Greene masterfully describes how to gain, maintain, and expand power through self-control, manipulation, and subterfuge. For the individual, The 48 Laws of Power will help you understand how to protect yourself from the power-hungry as well as how to achieve self-mastery.
Through five blog posts, I want to analyze this book through the lens of individualism. Our current post serves as an introduction to the power-hungry. Additionally, I cover the tactics they use to gain and expand their power.
This post covers offensive tactics. For example, how to conceal your intentions, the importance of doing rather than saying, and much more. These tactics are primary proactive and rely heavily on your volition, direction, and determination.
My third post will cover defensive tactics. Tactics include how to avoid supporting evil causes and how to reject gifts from dishonest people. My defensive techniques are perfect for protecting yourself against the power-hungry who seek to control you.
My fourth post will detail the crucial laws individuals should avoid at all costs. These laws will undermine your virtue and individual sovereignty. Why? Because submitting to the lust of power will enslave you to the very people you wish to control.
Lastly, I will conclude with a post summarizing everything and providing further tools for growth and development.
Offensive Power Laws
As individualists, we must push onward to achieve the life goals we’ve set for ourselves. Accomplishing a goal requires exercising your willpower while remaining focused on the task at hand. However, you are a social creature. You have to interact with others, and not everyone has your best interests at heart. Therefore, understanding the power dynamics between yourself and others is a necessity.
When dealing with others, it’s crucial to adhere to behaviors and tactics that enable you to maximize influence over yourself. Through indirection, communication, confidence, and action, you can solidify the power you possess while ensuring others lack power over you.
Law 3 – Conceal your intentions
“Build in silence.” People wish to understand your goals and desires in order to exercise influence over you. For example, when a manager or co-worker know what your life goals are, they can utilize this knowledge to hurt you. If you express a desire to be promoted, your manager can lord this over your head, forcing you to work harder while promising the promotion that won’t come.
The best technique is to let your actions speak louder than your words. Keep your inner-thoughts to yourself when dealing with the manipulative. Instead, focus on the end goal. This way, when you’ve worked your ass off, you can go to your manager and demand a promotion. If you can’t settle anything through negotiation, then find a better place of employment with the skills you have developed through your hard work.
Lastly, it’s not healthy to conceal your intentions from the virtuous people you trust. Your spouse and close friends should know about your hopes and dreams, and vice versa. Virtuous people will assist you in achieving your goals, so allow them to help you when reasonable.
Law 4 – Always say less than necessary
“Keep quiet.” Words are powerful, but an overreliance on their power can spell your doom. When you talk too much, and too often, you appear commonplace, which reduces the power of your words. Your goal should be to speak less and listen more, especially when interacting with the dishonest and manipulative.
I’ve struggled with talking too much primarily because I believe my listeners share values similar to my own. For example, I’ve complained privately to managers only for them to utilize my complaints as critiques during my reviews. I’m learning, day by day, that I should keep people at arm’s length.
The goal is to allow others to speak more than you do while watching the content of your speech. Avoid complaining or expressing personal desires with those who you barely know or are untrustworthy.
The Best Offensive Tactic Is Quietness
If you struggle with this, then there are several things you can do. Firstly, talk more to the people who can trust so you can relieve excess energy. Next, journal more often, so you can collect your thoughts privately. Additionally, become comfortable with letting people know you don’t wish to discuss a particular topic, such as complaints about work or life goals. Lastly, avoid emotional upheavals. If you feel emotionally charged, then you should stop the conversation. We usually say things we regret when our emotions run high.
The person who listens will gain more knowledge about others. You can utilize this knowledge to protect yourself better and prepare. For example, if you notice that there’s an office gossip, you can plan for their machinations turning to you.
Law 9 – Win through your actions, never through argument
“Deeds, not words.” Resent the urge to argue with others when you can clearly show them. Do you have a great idea for a project? Start working on the project and present your work to your superior. The quality of the project will speak for itself.
We pay dearly when we attempt to argue with others, especially our superiors. People in positions of authority believe themselves to be right, and they do not operate objectively. Therefore, the goal should be to conceal your intentions and work silently. Then, prove your point through action alone.
People are fickle, and they desperately desire to be right. When proven wrong, through argument, they will resent you. However, if you show them the error of their ways, not through condescending attitudes but with examples, they are more likely to agree with you and lack resentment.
Lastly, choose your battles carefully. Some arguments are not worth having and expressing opinions to weak-minded men will not help matters. Ignore them, continue with your work, and achieve greatness in spite of their pettiness.
Law 16 – Use absence to increase respect and honor
“Never become stale.” When you’re around too often, people see you as commonplace and standard. Whether it’s fair or not, when people see you regularly, you become less exciting and respectable in their eyes. The less you appear around others, the more they long for your company. Be scarce and willing to spend time on your own.
Additionally, being around other people can make you complacent and insecure. Being able to enjoy time alone is a skill that few learn to master. It is dangerous to need the approval and entertainment of others – it is better to learn to enjoy your thoughts and council.
Go On the Offensive: Avoid False Loyalty
Lastly spending too much time around others may create a sense of trust that shouldn’t exist. For example, just because you spend time with your colleagues at work doesn’t mean you can trust them. Extended time together doesn’t make a lasting relationship. Don’t believe the time spent together is the same as loyalty.
Therefore, go on the offensive and keep people at arm’s length by staying professional and respectful. Don’t spend a lot of time around other people. When you are around others, speak infrequently and at a distant. Your life and your values are yours; you do not have to share them in mixed company.
Law 18 – Do not build a fortress to protect yourself – isolation is dangerous
“Create a virtuous community.” Isolation is dangerous, even for the individual. For starters, humans are social creatures, and only a select few of us can live without consistent human contact. Therefore, it is wise to find virtuous people to build a community. We should do our best to choose the tribe that compliments us and will help us to pursue virtue. Our tribe can give us support when we need it or provide us with the company during our free time. Being isolated robs the individual of the chance of giving to and receiving from a community.
Building a community is an offensive power tactic because finding a good community requires time and effort. Actively choosing one’s community ensures we associate with those who best compliment us.
Develop You Charisma and Become A Master if Power
Lastly, there is value in remaining sociable even if you don’t have the best social skills. For one, charisma is a valuable talent for individuals to learn. Additionally, being social allows us to stay connected to the outside world.
For example, if you’re in a work environment, you need to be apart of the decision-making process. Isolating yourself will ensure no one hears your opinion. Furthermore, when you separate yourself, you won’t hear the latest updates in the office which will put you at a disadvantage.
Law 23 – Concentrate your forces
“Focus until completion.” Having the capacity to focus on one’s task is incredibly important. When we put our time, energy, and effort behind one goal, we’re bound to accomplish big.
Therefore, it’s essential to find the right cause or the most crucial person to invest in. When we understand what our values and virtues are, we are more capable of picking the best path.
For example, if I understand where I want to be, then I will put my efforts towards the things that benefit me. If I want to be the best father, then I will invest in spending time with my kids versus trying to acquire more useless knick-knacks.
We have to have a hierarchy of what is valuable. Additionally, we need to invest in the people and actions which help us gain more power over our destinies.
Law 28 – Enter action with boldness
“Be bold.” When playing power games as an individual, it is essential to be bold and fierce. When we consistently doubt our actions, we become incapable of standing up for ourselves and what we value. Through confidence in our ideas, we can commit to our efforts with an unwavering passion.
The best way to build confidence is by understanding what we appreciate. When we have a firm understanding of our beliefs and values, we can direct our actions and talents towards the accomplishing of those goals.
Go On the Offensive: Be As Confident As You Can
For example, I want to be the best father. Why? Because I want my children to have a fulfilled, happy life. Additionally, if my children are mentally-healthy, then they can bring happiness and virtue to the world. Because I understand the “why” of my goal, I confidently spend more time I spend with my children instead of working longer hours or playing video games.
Additionally, we must continuously look to overcome our personal weaknesses and biases. When we consistently push out of our comfort zone, we are in a position to act boldly. Why? Because when fighting new challenges we can declare, “I’ve faced worse,” before marching forward.
Lastly, acting without confidence will lose the respect of others. As individuals, we do not have to be arrogant or bombastic. However, we should be secure with ourselves and where we’re going. By developing a deep understanding of our beliefs and values, we can operate with certainty and boldness.
Law 34 – Be royal in your own fashion: act like a king to be treated like one
“Act greatly to become great.” There are always new heights that we and many others wish to reach. To achieve our goals, we have to invest time, energy, and effort into building ourselves up.
However, during the time of building, we need to be confident in ourselves and our capacity to grow. Nothing is earned by pretending to be small or shrinking in the face of our potential. If we wish to be taken seriously, we must go on the offensive and act like royalty, even if we do not have the title yet.
Going on the Offensive Means Believing In Yourself
An example: I don’t have money to invest in a better wardrobe. My clothes are primarily jeans and t-shirts. I understand that upgrading my wardrobe beyond logo tees is a must (and something I prefer). However, I’m not there yet. Should I walk around with my head hanging and my shoulders slump? Or should I walk around with my head held high and my chest out, despite my modest dress?
Always walk straight, with your head high, and your vision clear.
Master the Offensive Tactics and You’ll Gain Power
Power exists. Therefore, our goal as individuals is to harness power over ourselves, so we can achieve our goals and protect ourselves from abusers and manipulators.
Go on the offensive. Follow these laws to push back against those that would threaten your sovereignty.
Next week, we will cover the laws of power that work best defensively.
- Which law do you utilize the most? Why do you use it so often?
- Which law do you utilize the least? In your opinion, is this a good or bad thing?
- Which law would you like to utilize more? How do you think you can better use the law?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.