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Law 46: Never Appear Too Perfect

In the image: Angela Dorothea Merkel is a German politician who has been Chancellor of Germany since 2005. She served as Leader of the Opposition from 2002 to 2005 and as Leader of the Christian Democratic Union from 2000 to 2018. A member of the Christian Democratic Union, Merkel is the first female Chancellor of Germany. Wikipedia

Appearing better than others is always dangerous, but most dangerous of all is to appear to have no faults or weaknesses. Envy creates silent enemies. It is smart to occasionally display defects, and admit to harmless vices, in order to deflect envy and appear more human and approachable. Only gods and the dead can seem perfect with impunity.

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Keys To Power

  • The human has a hard time dealing with feelings of inferiority. In the face of superior skill, talent or power, we are often disturbed or ill at ease — because most of us have an inflated sense of ourselves. When we meet people who surpass us they make it clear to us that we are in fact mediocre.
  • We feel envy.
  • Accept the fact that there will be people who will surpass you in some way — and also the fact that you may envy them. Make that feeling a way of pushing yourself to equal or surpass them some day.
  • Let envy turn inwards and it poisons the soul; expel it outwards and it can move you to greater heights.
  • Understand that as you gain power, those below you will feel envious of you.
  • Expect that when people envy you they will work against you insidiously.
  • To deflect envy, subtly emphasize how lucky you have been, to make your happiness seem more attainable to other people.
  • Disguise your power as a kind of self-sacrifice rather than a source of happiness — and you make it seem less enviable. Emphasize your troubles and you turn a potential danger into a source of moral support.
  • Be aware that some environments are more conducive to envy than others.
  • Do not try to help or do favours for those who envy you; they will think you are condescending to them.

Reversal

  • Act before envy takes root.
  • However, once envy is there, it is sometimes best to affect the opposite approach — display the utmost disdain for those who envy you.

Example

In the image: La Rochefoucauld 

“It takes great talent and skill to conceal one’s talent and skill.”

La Rochefoucauld 

If you have been paying attention, you will have noticed that a lot of these power plays revolve around the master and the student or slave, domination and submission, superiority or authority and inferiority, ego, pride, arrogance and envy, jealousy, hatred. It’s a very vicious and ultimately destructive cycle.

Everyone wants to be the king, no one wants to be the pawn. Me, I don’t want to be a pawn, but I don’t want to be the king either. I don’t want to envy nor be envied. I want to be the faceless man behind the throne. I don’t want to be on the chessboard. I don’t want to be a visible target, but I still want to win at the game of power no matter what side loses.

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