2014-01-26T13:24:00

Words have that insidious ability

Here are my notes from book 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. This is probably the most heartless book I ever read! There were moments when I could not decide if to laugh, cry or just vomit. And most striking of it all is that many mighty, powerful and rich people follow this rules.

  • p2 Everyone has insecurities. When you show yourself in the world and display your talents, you naturally stir up all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity.
  • p2 When it comes to power, outshining the master is perhaps the worst mistake of all.
  • p6 Since honesty rarely strengthens friendship, you may never know how a friend truly feels. Friends will say that they love your poetry, adore your music, envy your taste in clothes - maybe they mean it, often do not.
  • p7 Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit, because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure. --Tacitus
  • p7 … a person who has something to prove will move mountains for you.
  • p8 … and if you hire them [friends], they will eat you alive with ingratitude.
  • p8 The wise man profits more from his enemies than a fool from his friends. --Baltasar Gracian
  • p11 One way to hide your intentions is to talk endlessly about your desires and goals - just not your real ones.
  • p11 Seeming to believe what you say gives your words great weight.
  • p13 The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.
  • p14 I learned that you actually have more power when you shut up. --Andy Warhol
  • p17 … learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations. Then stand aside and let public opinion hang them.
  • p25 Never do yourself what others can do for you.
  • p28 The Vulture. Of all the creatures in the jungle, he has it the easiest. The hard work of others becomes his work; their failure to survive becomes his nourishment. Keep an eye on the Vulture - while you are hard at work, he is circling above. Do not fight him, join him.
  • p29 Lure him with fabulous gains - then attack. You hold the cards.
  • p31 You yourself must learn to master your emotions, and never to be influenced by anger; meanwhile, however, you must play on people's natural tendency to react angrily when pushed and baited. In the long run, the ability to make others come to you is a weapon far more powerful than any tool of aggression.
  • p34 Words have that insidious ability to be interpreted according to the other person's mood and insecurities.
  • p34 The truth is generally seen, rarely heard. --Baltasar Gracian
  • p35 If it does not matter in the long run whether the other person agrees with you - or if time and their own experience will make them understand what you mean - then it is best not even to bother with a demonstration. Save your energy and walk away.
  • p38 The answer lies in judging people on the effects they have on the world and not on the reasons they give for their problems.
  • p40 If you are miserly by nature, associate with the generous and they will infect you, opening up everything that is tight and restricted in you. If you are gloomy, gravitate to the cheerful. If you are prone to isolation, force yourself to befriend the gregarious. Never associate with those who share your defects - they will reinforce everything that holds you back. Only create associations with positive affinities. Make this a rule of life and you will benefit more than from all the therapy in the world.
  • p42 Power involves a relationship between people; you will always need others as allies, pawns, or even as weak masters who serve as your front.
  • p43 … it is better to be feared than loved. Fear you can control; love, never. Depending on an emotion as subtle and changeable as love or friendship will only make you insecure. Better to have others depend on you out of fear of the consequences of losing you than out of love of your company.
  • p44 He who has slaked his thirst immediately turns his back on the well, no longer needing it.
  • p50 There is an art to asking for help, an art that depends on your ability to understand the person you are dealing with, and to not confuse your needs with theirs.
  • p51 Self-interest is the level that will move people.
  • p52 The cord of mutual self-interest is woven of many fibers and cannot easily be served. It will serve you well for years.
  • p61 You must learn when to leave. Create value through scarcity.
  • p73 Choose your victims and opponents carefully, then - never offend or deceive the wrong person.
  • p74 The highest form of the art of power is the ability to distinguish the wolves from the lambs, the foxes from the hares, the hawks from the vultures. If you make this distinction well, you will succeed without needing to coerce anyone too much.
  • p76 Wrongs are often forgiven, but contempt never is. Our pride remembers it for ever.
  • p78 Desire is like virus: If we see that someone is desired by other people, we tend to find this person desirable too.
  • p80 Above all, keep yourself free of commitments and obligations - they are the device of another to get you into his power. --Baltasar Gracian
  • p82 The feeling that someone else is more intelligent than we are is almost intolerable.
  • p82 Subliminally reassure people that they are more intelligent than you are, and you can run rings around them.
  • p83 Masquerading as a swine to kill the tiger. --Chinese saying
  • p86 This is the essence of the surrender tactic: Inwardly you stay firm, but outwardly you bend. Deprived of a reason to get angry, your opponents will often be bewildered instead.
  • p90 We are all in a state of total distraction and diffusion, hardly able to keep our minds in one direction before we are pulled in a thousand others. The modern world's level of conflict is higher than ever, and we have internalized it in our own lives. The solution is a form of retreat inside ourselves, to the past, to more concentrated forms of thought and action.
  • p91 In the end, the single patron appreciates your loyalty and becomes dependent on your services; in the long run the master serves the slave.
  • p95 You must change your style and your way of speaking to suit each person. This is not lying, it is acting, and acting is an art, not a gift from God.
  • p96 You must be the mirror, training your mind to try to see yourself as others see you.
  • p97 Be too forward-thinking, however, and no one will understand you.
  • p97 It is an obvious law of human nature that we will flee what is unpleasant and distasteful, while charm and the promise of delight will draw us like moths to a flame.
  • p101 He could not be grasped, and what cannot be grasped cannot be consumed.
  • p103 The mistake does not vanish with an apology; it deepens and festers. Better to cut it off instantly, distract attention from yourself, and focus attention on a convenient scapegoat before people have time to ponder your responsibility or your possible incompetence.
  • p105 Reputation depends more on what is hidden than on what is seen. If you can't be good, be careful. --Baltasar Gracian
  • p108 Surround yourself with luxury , dazzle your followers with visual splendor, fill their eyes with spectacle. Not only will this keep them from seeing the ridiculousness of your ideas, the holes in your belief system, it will also attract more attention, more followers.
  • p109 Your followers want to believe that if they follow you all sorts of good things will fall into their lap. By surrounding yourself with luxury you become living proof of the soundness of your belief system. Never reveal that your wealth actually comes from your followers' pockets; instead, make it seem to come from the truth of your methods.
  • p109 First, make sure your followers believe they are part of an exclusive club, unified by a bond of common goals. Then, to strengthen this bond, manufacture the notion of a devious enemy out to ruin you. If you have no enemies, invent one.
  • p117 How much easier it is never to get in than to get yourself out!
  • p122 Force them to make choices between the lesser of two evils, both of which serve your purpose.
  • p126 Never appeal to truth and reality unless you are prepared for the anger that comes from disenchantment.
  • p130 The most detested person in the world is the one who always tells the truth, who never romances.
  • p132 Find people's idols, the things they worship and will do anything to get - perhaps you can be the supplier of their fantasies.
  • p133 One sign of this weakness is that when you touch on it the person will often act like a child.
  • p136 But as we grow older the rebuffs and failures we experience set up boundaries that only get firmer with time. Coming to expect less from the world, we accept limitations that are really self-imposed. We start to bow and scrape and apologize for even the simplest of requests.
  • p137 Dignity, in fact, is invariably mask to assume under difficult circumstances: it is as if nothing can affect you, and you have all the time in the world to respond. This is an extremely powerful pose.
  • p140 Time is an artificial concept that we ourselves have created to make the limitlessness of eternity and the universe more bearable, more human.
  • p141 When your mind is uncluttered by constant emergencies you will see farther into the future.
  • p152 The reason arguments do not work is that most people hold their ideas and values without thinking about them. There is a strong emotional content in their beliefs: they really do not want to have to rework their habits of thinking, and when you challenge them, whether directly through your arguments or indirectly through your behavior, they are hostile.
  • p156 Our anger often stems from problems in our childhood, from the problems of our parents which stem from their own childhood, on and on. Our anger also has roots in the many interactions with others, the accumulated disappointments and heartaches that we have suffered. An individual will often appear as the instigator of our anger but it is much more complicated, goes far beyond what that individual did to us. If a person explodes with anger at you (and it seems out of proportion to what you did to them), you must remind yourself that it is not exclusively directed at you - do not be so vain. The cause is much larger, goes way back in time, involves dozen of prior hurts, and is actually not worth the bother to understand. Instead of seeing it as a personal grudge, look at the emotional outburst as a disguised power move, an attempt to control or punish you cloaked in the form of hurt feelings and anger.
  • p159 What is offered for free is dangerous - it usually involves either a trick or a hidden obligation. What has worth is worth paying for.
  • p161 The worth of money is not in its possession, but in its use.
  • p162 Givers, on the other hand, are generous because they want to be loved and admired by all. And their generosity is so indiscriminate and needy that it may not have the desired effect: if they give to one and all, why should the recipient feel special?
  • p170 It is often better to isolate your enemies than to destroy them - you seem less brutal. The result, though, is the same, for in the game of power, isolation spells death.
  • p172 Ignore the hearts and minds of others and they will grow to hate you.
  • p173 Be alert to both what separates them from everyone else (their individual psychology) and what they share with everyone else (their basic emotional responses).
  • p182 If their reform is too far ahead of its time, few will understand it, and it will stir up anxiety and be hopelessly misinterpreted. The changes you make must seem less innovative than they are.
  • p183 For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities.
  • p190 What comes last sticks in the mind as a kind of exclamation point.

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