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LAW 1 – NEVER OUTSHINE THE MASTER
JUDGMENT: Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please and 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.
LAW 2 – NEVER PUT TOO MUCH TRUST IN FRIENDS, LEARN HOW TO USE ENEMIES
JUDGMENT: 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 enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them.
LAW 3 – CONCEAL YOUR INTENTIONS
JUDGMENT: 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.
LAW 4 – ALWAYS SAY LESS THAN NECESSARY
JUDGMENT: 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.
LAW 5 – SO MUCH DEPENDS ON YOUR REPUTATION-GUARD IT WITH YOUR LIFE
JUDGMENT: 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 alert to 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.
LAW 6 – COURT ATTENTION AT ALL COST
JUDGMENT: 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.
LAW 7 – GET OTHERS TO DO THE WORK FOR YOU, BUT ALWAYS TAKE THE CREDIT
JUDGMENT: 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 remembered. Never do yourself what others can do for you.
LAW 8 – MAKE OTHER PEOPLE COME TO YOU-USE BAIT IF NECESSARY
LAW 9 – WIN THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS, NEVER THROUGH ARGUMENT
LAW 10 – INFECTION: AVOID THE UNHAPPY AND UNLUCKY
JUDGMENT: 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.
When you suspect you are in the presence of an infector, don’t argue, don’t try to help, don’t pass the person on to your friends, or you will become enmeshed. Flee the infector’s presence or suffer the consequences.
The incurably unhappy and unstable have a particularly strong infecting power because their characters and emotions are so intense. They often present themselves as victims, making it difficult, at first, to see their miseries as self-inflicted. Before you realize the real nature of their problems you have been infected by them.
Understand this: In the game of power, the people you associate with are critical. The risk of associating with infectors is that you will waste valuable time and energy trying to free yourself. Through a kind of guilt by association, you will also suffer in the eyes of others. Never underestimate the dangers of infection.
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.
LAW 11 – LEARN TO KEEP PEOPLE DEPENDENT ON YOU
JUDGMENT: 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.
Be the only one who can do what you do, and make the fate of those who hire you so entwined with yours that they cannot possibly get rid of you.
No one will come to depend on you if they are already strong. If you are ambitious, it is much wiser to seek out weak rulers or masters with whom you can create a relationship of dependency. You become their strength, their intelligence, their spine.
Necessity rules the world. People rarely act unless compelled to. If you create no need for yourself, then you will be done away with a first opportunity.
The ultimate power is the power to get people to do as you wish. When you can do this without having to force people or hurt them, when they willingly grant you what you desire, then your power is untouchable. The best way to achieve this position is to create a relationship of dependence. The master requires your services; he is weak or unable to function without you;
Do not be one of the many who mistakenly believe that the ultimate form of power is independence. The best you can hope for is that others will grow so dependent on you that you enjoy a kind of reverse independence: Their need for you frees you.
This is the model: Make others dependent on you. To get rid of you might spell disaster, even death and your master dares not tempt fate by finding out. There are many ways to obtain such a position. Foremost among them is to posses a talent and creative skill that simply cannot be replaced.
You do not have to have the talent of Michelangelo,; you do have to have a skill that sets you apart of the crowd. You should create a situation in which you can always latch on to another master or patron but your master cannot easily find another servant with your particular talent.
Better to have others depend on you out of fear of the consequences of losing you than out of love of your company.
LAW 12 – USE SELECTIVE HONESTY AND GENEROSITY TO DISARM YOUR VICTIM
LAW 13 – WHEN ASKING FOR HELP, APPEAL TO PEOPLE’S SELF-INTEREST, NEVER THEIR MERCY OR GRATITUDE
LAW 14 – POSE AS A FRIEND, WORK AS A SPY
LAW 15 – CRUSH YOUR ENEMY TOTALLY
LAW 16 – USE ABSENCE TO INCREASE RESPECT AND HONOR
LAW 17 – KEEP OTHERS IN SUSPENDED TERROR: CULTIVATE AN AIR OF UNPREDICTABILITY
LAW 18 – DO NOT BUILD FORTRESSES TO PROTECT YOURSELF – ISOLATION IS DANGEROUS
LAW 19 – KNOW WHO YOU’RE DEALING WITH – DO NOT OFFEND THE WRONG PERSON
LAW 20 – DO NOT COMMIT TO ANYONE
LAW 21 – PLAY A SUCKER TO CATCH A SUCKER – SEE DUMBER THAN YOUR MARK
LAW 22 – USE THE SURRENDER TACTIC: TRANSFORM WEAKNESSES INTO POWER
LAW 23 – CONCENTRATE YOUR FORCES
LAW 24 – PLAY THE PERFECT COURTIER
LAW 25 – RE-CREATE YOURSELF
Judgment: 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 – power will be enhanced and your character will seem larger than life.
LAW 26 – KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN
LAW 27 – PLAY ON PEOPLE’S NEED TO BELIEVE TO CREATE A CULTLIKE FOLLOWING
LAW 28 – ENTER ACTION WITH BOLDNESS
LAW 29 – PLAN ALL THE WAY TO THE END
Judgment: 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.
LAW 30 – MAKE YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS SEEM EFFORTLESS
LAW 31 – CONTROL THE OPTIONS: GET OTHERS TO PLAY WITH THE CARDS YOU DEAL
LAW 32 – PLAY TO PEOPLE’S FANTASIES
LAW 33 – DISCOVER EACH MAN’S THUMBSCREWS
LAW 34 – BE ROYAL IN YOUR OWN FASHION: ACT LIKE A KING TO BE TREATED LIKE ONE
LAW 35 – MASTER THE ART OF TIMING
LAW 36 – DISDAIN THINGS YOU CANNOT HAVE: IGNORING THEM IS THE BEST REVENGE
Judgment: By acknowledging a petty problem you give it existence and credibility. The more attention you pay an enemy the strong you make him; and a small mistake is often made worse and more visible when you try to fix it. It 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.
LAW 37 – CREATE COMPELLING SPECTACLES
Judgment: 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.