52 in 52 Book Summaries

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

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The Essence

Robert Greene searches across history to uncover the ironclad laws of influence, respect, and domination; power holds many forms. As he systematically observes each of the characteristics of power, Greene recounts the most powerful figures in histories observations and transgression of the laws of power. Now this book summary will be a little different. Since the 48 laws contain so much valuable information, I chose to review 10 laws I found to paramount to avoid being dominated by powers influence. While all 48 laws of power have merit, I believe that the 10 reviewed have the most value to consider if you are just starting to consider to ways of influence that sway not only the course of history but your capability to navigate in it.

The 48 Laws of Power Journal Entry Notes:

This is my book summary of The 48 Laws of Power. My notes are a reflection of the journal write up above. Written informally, the notes contain a mesh and mix of quotes and my own thoughts on the book. Sometimes, to my own fault, quotes are interlaced with my own words. Though rest assured, I am not attempting to take any credit for the main ideas below. The Journal write up includes important messages and crucial passages from the book.

No days unalert; Learn the game of Power of else Risk being taken advantage of.

LAW 4 Always say less than necessary
“Power people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you, say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.”
Power is a game of appearances, and when you say less, you inevitably appear greater. Your silence will make other people uncomfortable.
LAW 9 Win through your actions, never through argument
Demonstrate, do not explicate.
Words have that insidious ability to be interpreted according to the other person’s mood and insecurities.
LAW 10 Infection: Avoid the unhappy and unlucky
Emotional states are infectious diseases.
The unfortunate draw misfortune on themselves.
Who you associate with is critical: Associate with the happy and fortunate instead.
Do not take pity. Do not enmesh yourself trying to help their infector will remain unchanged but you will be unhinged.
LAW 16 Use absence to increase respect and honor
You must learn when to leave, create value through scarcity
“Why do I not see you more often?”
“Because the words ‘why have you not been to see me?’ are much sweeter than the words ‘Why have you come again?’”
Learn to keep yourself obscure and make people demand your return. By being less accessible you increase the value of your presence.
LAW 18 Do not build fortresses to protect yourself. Isolation is dangerous
Never enclose yourself so far from the streets that you cannot hear what is happening around you, including the plots against you.
Since humans are social creatures, the social arts make us pleasant to be around, and can only be practice by constant exposure and circulation.
LAW 23 Concentrate your forces
80/20 Principle: Focus on what will yield the most gains.
Intensity defeats extensity overtime, ever time.
Extent alone never rise above mediocrity, and it is the misfortune of men with wide general interest that while they would like to have their finger in every, pie they have one in none.
Single mindedness of purpose, total concentration on the goal, and the use of these qualities against people less focused, people in as stat of direction- such an arrow will find its mark every time.
LAW 29 Plan all the way to the end
By planning to the end to will not be overwhelmed by circumstance and you will know when to stop gently guide fortune and help determine the future by thinking far ahead.
The power to overcome the natural tendency to react to things as they happen, instead to train oneself to step back, observe the larger picture.
By planning you remove the emotional temptation to improvise.
LAW 31 Control the options: Get others to play with the cards you deal
Give people options that come out in you favor whichever one they chose
“if you can get a bird to walk into a cage on its own, it will sing much prettier”
Some examples of "controlling the options"
Color the choice
Force the resister
Alter the playing field
Shrink the options
Brothers in Crime
Weak man on the precipice
NOTE: these methods work best when used suggestively and in states of fragility on the part of the main power holder; Think inception.
LAW 34 Be royal in your own fashion: Act like a king to be treated like one
By acting regally and confident of your powers, you make yourself seem destined to wear a crown.
You set your own price: How you carry yourself reflects what you think of yourself.
Self-fulfilling prophecy Always act with dignity; make it confident, be wary of arrogance.
LAW 48 Assume Formlessness
Be Like Water
Accept, that nothing is certain, and no law is fixed. Protect yourself through fluidity. Never bet on lasting order. Everything is constantly changing.
Train yourself to take nothing personal. Never show defensiveness: Chameleon
The ability to gain victory by change and adaption relative to the opponent: that is call genius.

If you liked what you saw. Here are 3 titles that I recommend based on what was discussed in The 48 Laws of Power.

  1. The Art Of War by Sun Tzu
  2. Mastery by Robert Greene
  3. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

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2 thoughts on “The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

  1. I’m surprised to see you did not include “Don’t outshine the master” in your top ten. I’ve heard in a lot of business podcasts that that one has helped many people in new careers.

    1. That is a really good point Patrick. When I was looking over my 10 vs. what other people thought I noticed that while the Laws did vary, the sentiments of the Laws blend into one another. For instance, Law 4 and 9 both would be methods for no outshining the master. I think when picking ten I sought for some of the most fluid laws, that meaning, the ones that bleed into one another. Thanks for the comment!

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