Home » Law 45: Preach The Need For Change, But Never Reform Too Much At Once

Law 45: Preach The Need For Change, But Never Reform Too Much At Once

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Everyone understands the need for change in the abstract, but on the day-to-day level people are creatures of habit. Too much innovation is traumatic, and will lead to revolt. If you are new to a position of power, or an outsider trying to build a power base, make a show of respecting the old way of doing things. If change is necessary, make it feel like a gentle improvement on the past.

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Keys To Power

  • Human psychology contains many dualities — one being that while people understand the need for change, they are also irritated and upset by changes that affect them personally.
  • Preach change as much as you like, but give them the comforting appearance of older events and traditions.
  • Another strategy to disguise change is to make a loud and public display of support for the values of the past.
  • The answer to the innate conservatism is to play the courtier’s game. Pay lip service to tradition. Identify elements in your revolution that can be made to seem to build on the past.


  • The past is a corpse to be used as you see fit. If what happened in the recent past was painful and harsh, it is self-destructive to associate yourself with it.
  • If you make a bold change from the past, you must avoid at all costs the appearance of a void or vacuum, or you will create terror. Fill that space immediately with new rituals and forms.


Change is imperative, but human beings love the comfort familiarity provides. The unknown, disorder, and chaos are very disruptive and undesirable to us, even when it is for the better. Hence, we need small, incremental changes that build over a long period of time allowing everyone to adjust at a comfortable pace. You are moving things in the right direction, while avoiding stirring up too much anxiety and dissent. Change things gradually, one step at a time, dragging the voluntary rest of us with you.

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.

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