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Law 20: Do Not Commit To Anyone

In the image: Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy is an Indian billionaire businessman. He is the co-founder of Infosys, and has been the chairman, chief executive officer, president, and chief mentor of the company before retiring and taking the title chairman emeritus. Murthy was born and raised in Shidlaghatta, Karnataka. Wikipedia

It is the fool who always rushes to take sides. Do not commit to any side or cause but yourself. By maintaining your independence, you become the master of others — playing people against one another, making them pursue you.

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Part 1: Do not commit to anyone, but be courted by all

If you allow people to feel they possess you to any degree, you lose all power over them. By not committing your affections, they will only try harder to win you over. Stay aloof and you gain the power that comes from their attention and frustrated desire. Play the Virgin Queen: give them hope but never satisfaction.

Keys To Power

  • When you hold yourself back, you incur not anger but respect. You instantly seem powerful because you make yourself ungraspable, rather than succumbing to the group, or to the relationship as most people do.
  • As your reputation for independence grows, more and more people will come to desire you, wanting to be the one who gets you to commit.
  • Once you commit, the magic is gone.
  • The goal is not to put people off, but stir the pot and excite interest.

Part 2: Do not commit to anyone — stay above the fray

Do not let people drag you into their petty fights and squabbles. Seem interested and supportive, but find a way to remain neutral; let others do the fighting while you stand back, watch and wait. When the fighting parties are good and tired they will be ripe for the picking. You can make it a practice, in fact, to stir up quarrels between other people, and then offer to mediate, gaining power as the go-between.

Keys To Power

  • Most people operate in a whirlpool of emotions, constantly reacting, churning up squabbles and conflicts. You have to master your emotions.
  • Make your moves matters of your own choosing, not defensive reactions to the push and pull of others around you.
  • Preserving your autonomy gives you options when people come to blows — you can play the mediator, broker peace while securing your own interests.
  • You will be tempted to side with the stronger party when conflicts breaks out. But remember: it is often difficult to foresee which side will prevail in the long run.
  • Energy wasted on the affairs of others subtracts from your strength.


  • Both parts of the law will turn against you if you take it too far.
  • If you keep your growing number of suitors waiting too long, you will inspire not desire, but distrust.
  • Eventually, you may find it worthwhile to commit to one side — if only for appearance’s sake.
  • The key is to maintain inner independence.


In the image: Alcibiades

Alcibiades, greek soldier & statesman found himself courted by the Athenians and the Spartans, because he had an influence on the Persians and honored by the Persians, because he had influence over the Greek city-states. Instead of committing to one side, he played all of them in his favor. Committing is like handing yourself over to someone else. It means more obligations and less control.

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