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Law 1: Never Outshine The Master

Tim Cook
In the image: Timothy Donald Cook is an American business executive, philanthropist and engineer. Cook is the chief executive officer of Apple Inc., and previously served as the company’s chief operating officer under its cofounder Steve Jobs.

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.

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Keys To Power

  • 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. That is to be expected.
  • While you cannot spend your life worrying about the petty feelings of others, with those above you, you must take a different approach.
  • It is a deadly but common misconception to believe that by displaying and flaunting your gifts and talents, you are winning the master’s affection.
  • He may feign appreciation, but at this first opportunity, he will replace you with someone less intelligent, attractive, and threatening.
In the image: The Master from Doctor Who

There are 2 rules you must realize.

  • 1: You can inadvertently outshine a master simply by being yourself.
  • 2: There are masters who are more insecure than others, and you may naturally outshine them by your charm and grace.
  • If you cannot help being charming or superior, you must learn to avoid such monsters of vanity. Or find a way to mute your good qualities when in the presence of such.
  • Never imagine that because the master loves you, you can do anything you want. Entire books could be written about favorites who fell out of favor by taking their status for granted.
  • Turn this Law to your advantage by flattering and puffing up your master. Use discreet flattery, for e.g make him appear more intelligent than you. Act naive. Make it seem like you need his expertise.
  • If your ideas are more creative than your master’s, ascribe them to him, in as public a manner as possible.
  • It is not a weakness to disguise your strengths if, in the end, they lead to power. By letting others outshine you, you remain in control, instead of being a victim to their insecurity.


  • You cannot worry about upsetting every person you come across, but you must be selectively cruel.
  • If your superior is a falling star, there is nothing to fear from outshining him. Outdo, outcharm and outsmart him at key moments.


In the image: Louis XIV

Nicolas Fouquet made the mistake of appearing larger than his King, Louis XIV, and spent his remaining days incarcerated. Avoid victories over superiors. It will cost you more than it is worth.

About The Book

The 48 Laws of Power (1998) is a non-fiction book by American author Robert Greene. The book is a bestseller, selling over 1.2 million copies in the United States.

Buy The 48 Laws of Power or Listen to it for FREE on Audible