Some of you might have tried reading “The 48 Laws of Power”, a classic book on human psychology written by Robert Greene. Most of the laws are undeniably true. But if you have any sense of morality, the book may leave you feeling very uncomfortable. Some of the laws are great, like, “Win through your actions, never through argument.” Other laws might leave a bitter taste in your mouth, like, “Let others do the work for you, but always take the credit.”
The examples given in the book are from historic stories of political leaders who would elegantly backstab each other to increase their position. Newsflash: these victors all eventually get backstabbed. This makes it almost seem like a book of what not to do if you want any chance at living a healthy and successful life.
THE RIGHT WAY TO BUILD PERSONAL POWER
Trying to gain power is not a bad thing. Power is wonderful, and our world is filled with good heroes who wield it well. Your personal power is important, and it is what helps you become a valuable person with a high quality of life. Many of us have had our power taken away at some point, or never learned how to build it in the first place. That’s why we often go seeking for it, but what we find is usually broken and selfish habits. Strategies like using your anger to get what you want works like black magic: every time we use it, it only hurts us in the end.
So, we’re is here to help you unlock your personal power through a different and unbeatable set of laws, because they are all focused on the good of the world (which includes you). True power comes from being valuable, honest, and giving. The 48 Laws of Power book is written in a way to get ahead by manipulating the opinions of others. What a shallow and disheartening way to live. If you want to enjoy true power, the kind that comes from opening your heart to the world and giving everything you can, we have made revisions to the laws below.
THE REVISED 48 LAWS OF POWER
✘ Law 1: Never outshine the master.
✔ Law 1: Stay humble and respect your mentors.
✘ Law 2: Never put too much trust in friends, learn to use enemies.
✔ Law 2: Don’t use people. Understand we all make mistakes, and set up your life so that the actions of your friends or enemies does not make or break you.
✘ Law 3: Conceal your intentions.
✔ Law 3: Keep your intentions pure and for the good of the world. You will radiate more power than being shady.
✘ Law 4: Always say less than necessary.
✔ Law 4: Speak only the truth, and do it whenever it is necessary.
✘ Law 5: So much depends on reputation. Guard it with your life.
✔ Law 5: So much depends on your reputation, that’s right. But, build one based on good works and there’s no need to guard it. False attacks will be quickly brought into the light and destroyed.
✘ Law 6: Court attention at all cost.
✔ Law 6: Attract the right kind of attention by providing value in any situation.
✘ Law 7: Let others do the work for you, but always take credit.
✔ Law 7: Empower people to do work that helps both of you, and you will never need to take the credit.
✘ Law 8: Make other people come to you. Use bait if necessary.
✔ Law 8: Make other people come to you by always offering solutions to their problems. Then, delegate the work.
✘ Law 9: Win through your actions, never through argument.
✔ Law 9: Beautiful. Actions speak louder than words. Smile and take the high road to instantly win any argument.
✘ Law 10: Infection: Avoid the unhappy and the unlucky.
✔ Law 10: Surround yourself with people who lift you up, so you can all help the unhappy and unlucky find personal freedom too.
✘ Law 11: Learn to keep people dependent on you.
✔ Law 11: Wrong. Teach a man to fish, and he will be an endless source of fish for you.
✘ Law 12: Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim.
✔ Law 12: Wow, these start to get pretty scummy, huh. Victim? Use honesty and generosity to disarm your team members so you can trust each other.
✘ Law 13: When asking for help, appeal to people’s self-interest, never to their mercy.
✔ Law 13: Ask for completely one-sided help sparingly. Instead, take care of yourself and find ways to work together that makes life easier for everyone. Never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do for them.
✘ Law 14: Pose as a friend, work as a spy.
✔ Law 14: Are you kidding? To avoid dying as a miserable person, be a good friend. Give endlessly to these people, and you will always have a loyal army behind you.
✘ Law 15: Crush your enemy totally.
✔ Law 15: If you are confronted with evil, crush your enemy totally. Heroes do not hesitate to fight for what is right.
✘ Law 16: Use absence to increase respect and honor.
✔ Law 16: Don’t overstay your welcome or overstep your bounds. Give your best to a few people and projects, which makes your time and presence extremely valuable to others.
✘ Law 17: Keep others in suspended terror: cultivate an air of unpredictability.
✔ Law 17: Variety is the spice of life. Take risks, move fast, and don’t think about things like keeping others in suspended terror. People will just be excited to go on the ride with you.
✘ Law 18: Do not build fortresses to protect yourself – isolation is dangerous.
✔ Law 18: It’s true: loneliness kills. Find other people to go through life with, and help each other when times get tough. Give and take.
✘ Law 19: Know who you’re dealing with- do not offend the wrong person.
✔ Law 19: When dealing with powerful people, you are bulletproof if your actions come from good intentions for everyone involved.
✘ Law 20: Do not commit to anyone.
✔ Law 20: As you mature, you move from dependence and independence to interdependence. Commit to projects that matter, and take your due credit for success or failure. Do not engage in anything that moves you back to dependence.
✘ Law 21: Play a sucker to catch a sucker- seem dumber than your mark.
✔ Law 21: No one likes to be talked-down to. Be patient, keep things simple, and ask leading questions to help others come to conclusions by themselves.
✘ Law 22: Use the surrender tactic: transform weakness into power.
✔ Law 22: Brilliant. By choosing not to fight & assuredly lose, you can simply continue building your empire while enemies burn each others’ castles down around you.
✘ Law 23: Concentrate your forces.
✔ Law 23: Focus. Succeed by relentlessly pushing and achieving each milestone you’ve set, one by one.
✘ Law 24: Play the perfect courtier (royal advisor).
✔ Law 24: Learn to give solid advice, and you will never be out of the loop. Do not grovel. Powerful people sense attempts at manipulation from a mile away, and if you happen to succeed, it’s only because they’ve decided to play along and manipulate you back.
✘ Law 25: Re-create yourself.
✔ Law 25: If who you are and what you do isn’t working or making you happy, level up.
✘ Law 26: Keep your hands clean.
✔ Law 26: Keep your hands clean, but that doesn’t mean outsource the dirty work. Refuse the dirty work.
✘ Law 27: Play on people’s need to believe to create a cult-like following.
✔ Law 27: Give people something real, transformative, and effective to believe in. Become someone striving to reach an ideal to inspire others.
✘ Law 28: Enter action with boldness.
✔ Law 28: Absolutely. Believe in yourself, fight for yourself, and come out swinging against any odds.
✘ Law 29: Plan all the way to the end.
✔ Law 29: Understand your actions have consequences. Make choices based on the best solution for everyone involved.
✘ Law 30: Make your accomplishments seem effortless.
✔ Law 30: Climb mountains, tell no one. Your work will speak for itself.
✘ Law 31: Control opinions: get others to play with the cards you deal.
✔ Law 31: Give people choices and recommendations that always lead to positive results for both of you.
✘ Law 32: Play to people’s fantasies.
✔ Law 32: When speaking to others, speak to their best version of themselves.
✘ Law 33: Discover each man’s thumbscrew.
✔ Law 33: When someone shows you their weakness, help them turn it into a strength for lifelong loyalty. Don’t use blackmail for short-term control that turns into lifelong grudges instead.
✘ Law 34: Be royal in your own fashion: act like a king to be treated like one.
✔ Law 34: Hold yourself to a high standard. You are the hero of your own story, your own personal coach. Walk with the confidence of knowing you are an equal with all others, and watch doors open for you.
✘ Law 35: Master the art of timing.
✔ Law 35: Use observation, research, and plain old trial-and-error to learn how to say or do the right things at the right time.
✘ Law 36: Disdain things you cannot have: ignoring them is the best revenge.
✔ Law 36: True wealth and happiness comes from an elimination of desire for wants, not the fulfillment of desire for wants.
✘ Law 37: Create compelling spectacles.
✔ Law 37: Do great work that inspires, touches, and solves problems.
✘ Law 38: Think as you like but behave like others.
✔ Law 38: You cannot help people who do not feel comfortable around you. Lead from within. Don’t stand out for the wrong reasons.
✘ Law 39: Stir up waters to catch fish.
✔ Law 39: Stay calm and don’t make decisions out of anger to avoid being caught by people who follow these old rules.
✘ Law 40: Despise the free lunch.
✔ Law 40: There’s no such thing, but give or take a “free” lunch to discuss win-win opportunities.
✘ Law 41: Avoid stepping into a great man’s shoes.
✔ Law 41: Be yourself and carve your own path. No one can ever do that better than you.
✘ Law 42: Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.
✔ Law 42: Start at the root of any problem. Don’t just cover up symptoms.
✘ Law 43: Work on the hearts and minds of others.
✔ Law 43: You will be more successful by speaking to the emotions of other people, not just their rational side.
✘ Law 44: Disarm and infuriate with the mirror effect.
✔ Law 44: Such a twisted way to state the golden rule: treat others how you want to be treated. Explain to others how you do not want to be treated with a steady voice and a locked-in gaze, if this becomes an issue.
✘ Law 45: Preach the need for change, but never reform too much at once.
✔ Law 45: Too much change is difficult for everyone. When working towards the greater good, sell the vision while taking smaller steps and celebrating wins.
✘ Law 46: Never appear too perfect.
✔ Law 46: No one is perfect. Laugh about your most embarrassing mistakes to become more powerful than those wearing masks.
✘ Law 47: Do not go past the mark you aimed for; in victory know when to stop.
✔ Law 47: Set goals, achieve them, and review your progress. A life of victory is not a life of excess.
✘ Law 48: Assume formlessness
✔ Law 48: Be like water: adapt and flow. Become an expert in dealing with change. Stick only to your core values.
I wrote this a few years ago. It is by far those most decisive article on this site, and some of my own viewpoints have changed as well. However, I have decided not to edit the laws. Every once in a while, a comment will come in that brings joy to my heart, because someone “gets it”.
I am going to put one of those comments below. It may help your initial reactions to these modified laws, especially if you are adamant that morality and kindness has no place in power. Enjoy.
So I was compelled to comment on this article especially after reading some comments.
Interestingly some years ago I was gifted the book 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene by a former friend. During a time when I was down on my luck and feeling hopeless. That friend had invited me to stay at their place for a while so I could just clear my head (I wasn’t homeless, just needed to leave my current city and routine for a few days).
I read the whole book and admittedly tried to implement the laws in my life for a short period. But I quickly learned something – the laws don’t give one a sense of power. Instead it leads to a mindset of paranoia because of the constant distrust and disdain for others. And more importantly I wasn’t necessary using the laws. I was instead justifying doing bad actions that I already wanted to do. We all do have those thoughts, the problem is if you act upon them. I was using someone else’s flawed logic to justify my own actions and my view and sense of safety in the world was quickly deteriorating worse then it already was.
I already kind of knew my former friend was a bit manipulative and played mind games. They can be quite the charmer and then bite you in the back type. So I broke my paper shredder shredding that damn book. No one else needed to suffer or use such a mindset against others, so I didn’t want to donate it but take one book out of circulation. Then later I realized the ‘laws’ were posted online. Ho hum. I also unfriended that supposed friend.
Anyways, aside from my melodramatic and symbolic shredding of the book I did learn some from self-reflection. True power comes from within. And that takes time and cultivation. One can never truly have power over another, only over one’s self. You can’t control others reactions, only your own.
Ironically – and this is why I wanted to comment the author himself learned that lesson (true power comes from within) a bit (I don’t know if fully yet). And I do have another of his book to remind myself of what true power is. It is his Mastery book (self-mastery). I also recall reading an article some where he wrote the 48 Laws of Power when he was very angry with the world, so he didn’t write the book when he felt powerful. Which I think speaks for itself. Not to mention there were a few more ‘laws’ he omitted. His Mastery book still reeks a bit of snake oil, as he has some mantras to repeat and mindsets to follow compared to thinking for one’s own self. It is not as bad as his 48 Laws of Power, and a bit of a better read but still.
Though I now have a better understanding of some people because of that book. But through self-reflection and honest intentions I chose to find my true inner power.
At the very least, we hope these old and revised laws have given you a different perspective. Perhaps you are interested in changing your attitude or the treatment of others. After all, the best way to power is to become the hero of your own story. For this, we recommend our 160-page eBook, Kaizen Habits. Download that, absolutely free, below: