What Does The 48 Laws Of Power Teach You?
You can learn many things from the 48 Laws Of Power. Overall, the Laws teach you how you can avoid losing power, how you can gain power, and how to spot people who are playing the power game. It is a useful book to read regardless of whether you plan on using the laws because it makes you aware of what people are up to.
What Is The Purpose Of The 48 Laws Of Power?
Author Robert Greene has said that his purpose in writing the 430 page book was to help people recognize the game of power. Others wonder if the 48 laws of power were meant for manipulation. The book can be used for the purpose of manipulation but it can also be used to defend oneself against manipulation. You should look at the book as simply an amoral description of some tools that describe how people use, build, and maintain power.
How Can I Tell If Someone Is Using The 48 Laws Of Power?
The best way to tell if someone is using the 48 Laws is to carefully observe their behavior. Look at their book collection for other works by Robert Greene. Listen to the phrases and words they use and see if it matches up with those in the book.
You can also read the 48 Laws Of Power summary below and keep track of the number of laws the person follows. This isn’t an exact method but the more laws they follow the more likely they are to have read the book and have used the laws.
Ultimately the most sure way to find out if someone is using the laws is to get them to admit it. Try making statements they are likely to disagree with that will prove they use the laws like “you probably never have read the 48 laws of power,” and “the 48 laws of power is a useless book.” Watch how they react. You can also tell a story of how someone else used the 48 laws and watch how they react.
Keep in mind that some people intuitively understand or discover the laws on their own. Just because they are using some of the laws does not mean they have read the book. Often narcissistic, achievement, and competitive people start using the laws organically.
What Is The One Thing I Should Know About The Book?
One thing you must know that the book is that it is meant to be studied slowly, from an amoral point of view. If you rush through the book with a judging viewpoint, you won’t get much out of it. Instead, study the book as a pragmatic guide to how people with power act. If you were to try to read it all the way through in one sitting, which is inadvisable, it would take the average person about 24 hour.
There are four main critiques of the book.
First is that the book isn’t very scientific. Many of the ideas and laws are really just anecdotal stories which may or may not actually increase your power. Second is that the laws within the book contradict themselves. Third is that the book is immoral. Finally, some argue that the book can harm your power.
Find more details about the criticisms, as well as our response to each argument, here.
The 48 Laws of Power is a staple in your bookshelf for anyone who wants to better understand power. It teaches you how to defend against power moves as well as how to use it to increase your power. The text includes specific examples from the past that help illustrate the real world effects and applicable strategies of the book.
It also discusses specific ways you can apply each rule and potential reversals. Reversals are situations where it might be more useful to apply the opposite version of the law. For example, law 2 states that you should never put too much trust in friends. However, the reversal states that sometimes it can be useful to trust friends to do your dirty work.
The book is effective enough that it has been banned in some prisons (Utah State Prisons) for fear that the prisoners might become better at breaking the law. It also teaches how to control people and how to get them to do what you want.
Most importantly the book teaches you see how power in the world actually works. This is the first step on your journey to power. To do this Greene gives examples of people who followed these power rules and those who didn’t.
What Are The Most Important Laws?
Greene himself has said the the first law is the most important. It is to never outshine the master. We’ve compiled a list of other laws that are important, here.
“The 48 Laws Of Power is a kind of handbook on the art of indirection.”
List & Summary:
The 48 Laws Of Power details the strategies necessary for maintaining and growing power. It details each of 48 laws, giving historical and story based examples, analysis, tips for application, and reversals. Here is a summary of each law in the form of a list as well as examples and a link to a post about the science behind each law.
Law 1: Never Outshine The Master
Summary: When you show your gifts to the world, some will be jealous. Don’t let that stop you from showing your talents in most situations. However, when you are around those who outrank you, be careful. They have the ability to crush you if they think you are a threat. Keeping this law has two keys.
First, either avoid insecure masters or seek to mute your qualities so they appear less threatening. Make your masters seem more impressive than you.
Second, remember that your position relies on the good will of those above you. Don’t offend them.
Keys To Power: Flatter your master in a subtle way by making it seem like you need their expertise. Make small and insignificant mistakes and ask for their help.
Reversal: Find out if your superior is bleeding power and about to fall. To do this look to see how others behave around them. Do they listen? If they are, don’t worry about outshining them. In fact, in this situation, outshining them in the right way and at the right time can get you their position.
Example: Treat your boss with respect. Pretend he is as competent and intelligent as he thinks he is. Compliment your superiors. Attribute your success to your boss’s ideas and guidance.
Science: Click here to see the science behind this law.
Law 2: Never Put Too Much Trust In Fiends, Learn How To Use Enemies
Summary: Friends are dangerous because of how much they know about you and how little you notice about them. Often the things closest to us we observe the least. If they betray you they can hurt you more than others. Friends can also experience envy, which can motivate them to attack you.
On the other hand, enemies can be more loyal because they have more to prove. Enemies can also give you accurate criticism and don’t expect as much from you. This lower level of expectation means any reward from you will have greater value than if it was given to a friend who expected it. Enemies also focus and empower us to be our best selves by creating an environment of necessity. Because of these and other reasons, you must find a way to make enemies if you don’t have any.
Keys To Power: Be able to judge who is able to most further your interests in any given situation. Work with those most skilled and competent and intelligent. Learn how to use an enemy to make you better.
Reversal: Powerful people have dirty work that needs to be done. Friends can do this for you and if they fail you can use them as a scapegoat.
Example: Don’t tell your friends anything that could be used to hurt you. Use your enemy’s criticisms of your actions to refine yourself until they can’t criticize at all.
Science: Click here to see the science behind this law.
Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions
Summary: Don’t reveal your plans or purposes. If people don’t know why you are acting, it creates an air of mystery and stops people from coming up with strong defenses. Use this indirection to guide them down the wrong path. Additionally, concealing your intentions makes you easier to respect since it isn’t plainly obvious how you got to where you are.
I: Conceal by first using red herrings. Look for what people expect and learn how to use those expectations to lead them away from your plans. You can create a fictitious goal that you appear to want in order to distract people from what you are really up to. Some even go as far as supporting a cause that is completely contrary to their goals.
II: Use smoke screens. The best deceivers use banality and a bland exterior to avoid attention. Effective smoke screens are things people want to believe. Here are the ones listed in the 48 Laws. Try the noble gesture smokescreen. A noble gesture is when you pretend to be doing something for a moral or social purpose. Another smokescreen option is using a pattern of behavior. When people expect you to take certain actions since you’ve acted that way in the past, you can use those expectations to your advantage. Think of poker tells and fake tells. You can also try the smoke screen of appearing like the people around you.
Keys To Power: Don’t hide your intentions by hiding what you have to say. Instead hide your intentions by sharing a fake goal and discussing it openly with others.
Reversal: You can’t deceive and mislead if everyone expects it of you. In those situations where you have been spotted, practice appearing as the honest or repentant rogue.
Example: Pretend you want one job while secretly preparing for and perusing another. This works well if you are switching careers. Pretend to be totally dedicated to your current job while taking night classes.
Science: Click here to see the science behind this law.
Law 4: Always Say Less Than Necessary
Summary: Often people try to impress with words. But the more you say the more common you make yourself. You also make it more likely that you will say something dumb. Say less to impress and intimidate people. Saying less also makes you appear sphinx-like, complex, and thoughtful. Saying less creates the air of meaning and power.
Keys To Power: Once your words are spoken you can’t take them back. Be careful when you use sarcasm. But saying less can be an effective skill to have, especially if you are one who constantly wishes they didn’t say something after the fact.
Reversal: Talking less can backfire against you, arousing suspicion. Saying less can also lead to interpretations that you don’t want or anticipate. Sometimes talking and joking like a fool can be a more effective strategy.
Example: When people ask what you do for work, give a general category of work. This will make your actual job more interesting. For example instead of saying you work in medical sales, say you teach new medical techniques to surgeons. You can also just share the general industry and then say you don’t like to talk about work much.
Law 5: So Much Depends On Reputation – Guard It With You Life
Summary: Reputation is one of the key ingredients in power. Good reputations can help you win or make you vulnerable to attack. Pay attention to the preliminary signs of a reputation attack and stop them. Learn to destroy enemies by attacking their reputation and letting them hang themselves in the court of public opinion.
Keys To Power: Reputation allows you to control to some degree how the world perceives you. When you are in a new situation, look for the things that culture values and exemplify them. Focus it around one characteristic. If you are in a situation where your reputation is already set and it is not advantageous, associate yourself with someone who has the opposite reputation.
Use satire and ridicule to attack your opponent’s reputation. Don’t go too far when attacking them as you will start to look bad.
Reversal: There is no reversal to this law. Always play a roll in fashioning your reputation.
Example: Establish a reputation for being a hard worker who always hits deadlines. When an important project comes down the pipe, you will be chosen over others if the deadline is important. See our article on character assassination for more.
Law 6: Court Attention At All Costs
Summary: You must constantly seek attention so you do not become irrelevant.
I: People crave those who stand above the general and typical. Don’t worry about the type of attention be it negative or positive, because any level of notoriety will increase your power.
II: Never make it clear, obvious, or predictable what you are up to. Obscuring your plans creates attention and anticipation. Don’t worry about contradicting yourself or people not understanding you. This will inherently put people in an inferior position because they are trying to figure you out.
Keys To Power: Deliver on all the tasks you are given with splendor and dazzle. If you don’t have many opportunities to attract attention, attack the most powerful person you can find. Make sure you only use this tactic when you are small and unknown otherwise people will get annoyed with you eventually. Once you are in the center of public attention, creatively subvert what they expect you to do by doing the opposite. Try holding back, keeping quiet, uttering ambiguous ideas, and acting odd or inconsistent to what people expect. Ask yourself what others expect of you and then do the opposite. Try acting in ways that cannot be easily explained.
Reversal: Be careful to not outshine those above you or they will punish you. You must make your actions seem like a game and not a serious threat. Never compete with those above for attention.
Example: Create a social media presence that is different from those in your social group. Or don’t reveal too many details about your weekend at work. Just share enough to get people interested.
Law 7: Get Others To Do The Work For You, But Take The Credit
Summary: Use the knowledge and hard work of others to make yourself appear hyper efficient. Don’t do things that others can do just as well. Since people only remember results, they will forget those who contributed. Think of vultures and how they sit around patiently waiting for some animal to do the hard and dangerous work.
Keys To Power: Once you develop a power base, find ways to make it appear like you did all the work. You can also use the knowledge built by those in the past to jump ahead quickly. Borrow plots, ideas, formulas, and other tools instead of developing them yourself. You also can accomplish this by simply being the longest tenured person on a team. In time, your coworkers will move on and you will be the only face of the past successful project.
Reversal: If you are not sufficiently powerful you must be careful whose work you claim. Do not claim the work of those above you, and only claim the work of those below if you are sufficiently more powerful than them. Otherwise they will revolt and use their resources to attack you.
Example: If you manage a team, often those you manage won’t be present in meetings where you present the results of their work. Take credit for the better ideas.
Law 8: Make Other People Come To You – Use Bait If Necessary
Summary: Use bait to get other people to come to you. When you make them act, you are in control. Often the aggressor eventually loses power because he unites enemies and is never really in control. He is always reacting. Instead play for long term power.
Keys To Power: To play the long term game of power, first master your emotions so their influence on your decisions is minimized. Second, play on people’s natural tendency to react emotionally when baited or pushed. Find the person’s weakness, or the thing they can’t help but chase, and set a trap.
Reversal: Sometimes attacking first and rapidly can make others respond to you. But be careful, if your attacks are predictable, you will open yourself up for a trap, or become the overreaching aggressor who is never in control.
Example: Insult and attack people in private but be nice to everyone else in public. Doing this will make the person complain about how you are mean or they will attack you in public. The person will either be intimidated by the attacks or they will eventually be seen as the whiner of the group. Either way you win.
Law 9: Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument
Summary: Stop trying to achieve victory and dominance through argument. When you lose it is bad for you. When you win you create resentment and long term enemies. Instead show you are right by simply out performing others. Eventually it will be obvious that you are correct.
Keys To Power: Master the art of winning through action and demonstration. Show you won by leaving symbols of victory in your stead. Look for indirect routes to power that don’t require argumentation.
Reversal: Arguments do have one use, to distract people from what you are up to. If you are accused of deception act confused and argue with the person that your intentions were pure. Appear emotional and certain to sell it. Then layer on technical language to cover your tracks.
Example: Instead of arguing with your friends at who is the best at a video game, practice in secret and then beat them with ease. Pretend your talent is natural.
Law 10: Infection: Avoid The Unhappy And Unlucky
Summary: Emotional states of mind are infectious and can draw misfortune to you. Spending time with infectors can also bring you guilt by association. Instead focus on spending time with those that are fortunate.
Keys To Power: Judge people by the effect they have on the world. Look for turbulent pasts, broken relationships, unstable careers. Avoid those people. Look for those who have the opposite qualities you seek, and spend time with them. If you are miserly, associate with a generous person.
Reversal: There is no reversal to this law. Nothing can be gained by associating with those who are miserable.
Example: Find friends or roommates who encourage you and are ambitious. Their behavior will infect you in a good way. Avoid physically sitting by coworkers and other people who constantly whine about the same things and never act.
Law 11: Learn To Keep People Dependent On You
Summary: If people depend on you, you will have more freedom. The more important the thing people depend on you for is, the more power you have. Remember to never teach people enough so that they can stop coming to you for the thing they want. Teach them just enough to keep a good image but no so much that they can replace you.
Keys To Power: To create dependence you must have a skill that is relatively rare. Look for situations where you can easily find a new master but the master cannot easily replace you. Once you found this situation, use your specialized knowledge to convince people they cannot live without you. Entrench yourself in important areas so that to get rid of you would mean chaos. Learn people’s secrets so you can take them down with you if you fall.
Reversal: Creating dependence can cause people to resent you. It can also cause you to isolate yourself to some degree, making you more vulnerable if the ship goes down.
Example: Teach people how to make a recipe or meal but leave out one key ingredient or technique. They will keep coming back to you, wanting more.
Law 12: Use Selective Honesty And Generosity To Disarm Your Victim
Summary: People’s suspicions can be allayed with one sincere and honest open hearted action. Use selective honesty to create weaknesses in people’s armor so you can later attack or manipulate.
Keys To Power: Distraction is the essence of deception. Try being selectively honest in first encounters to form a great first impression. It will take tons of dishonesty to overcome this first impression. You can use any noble gesture to disarm a person like selflessness, generosity, and gift giving. Selective kindness can also be used as a sort of Trojan horse. If you have a chance to take advantage of someone early on in a relationship, consider not taking it to gain their trust.
Reversal: No level of positive actions will make up for a reputation of deceit. If you have this reputation it is best to just play into it on a lower level. People will think you are predictable and not see the greater scheme.
Example: Compliment people on a characteristic they seem to value with a specific example. If they value intelligence, tell them in detail you thought their last accomplishment was smart.
Law 13: When Asking For Help, Appeal To People’s Self-Interest, Never To Their Mercy Or Gratitude
Summary: This law is founded on the persuasive principle of aligning your plan with another person’s self interest. Don’t remind them of how you have helped or served them in the past as it will stir up negative emotions. Instead, tell them how they will benefit by working with you.
Keys To Power: Understand the person you are dealing with and what they want. How are they motivated? Are they vain? Are they greedy?
Reversal: Some people will be put off by you appealing to their self interest. Instead appeal to their charity or other values they project.
Example: Instead of asking your friends for help when you are moving houses by reminding them of how you helped them, tell them if they help they will get first dibs on any exercise equipment you aren’t taking with you.
Law 14: Pose As A Friend, Work As A Spy
Summary: Develop spies so you can gain information on your rival. Information can help you out strategize and out maneuver them. You can also play the role of spy yourself. Learn to probe for information when you are talking to people. Ask indirect questions and look for everyone’s desires, weaknesses, intentions, and values.
Keys To Power: Put on a friendly front to gather information. Ask questions and get the person talking. Try blurting out something that seems like a secret and watching people’s reactions. Similarly you can share different pieces of information with people to see who leaks what you say. Pretend to bear your heart to someone and wait to see if they do it back to you. Try vehemently contradicting what people say to make them react emotionally.
Reversal: When people spy on you give out false information so their attacks will be less potent.
Example: Instead of attacking your enemy immediately, pretend to be their friend. Talk to them about their dreams and desires. From those desires you can infer their weaknesses and ways you can cause them pain and irritation.
Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally
Summary: If you are dealing with an enemy, crush them completely. If they survive, their resentment and bitterness will grow until they have enough power to strike you back. Thus, stopping half way through an attack will cause you significant long term problems.
Keys To Power: Allow your enemies no options, no room to negotiate, and no hope for victory. Recognize people for whom there is no possibility of peace and plan to trap and banish them.
Reversal: When you have someone on the ropes, sometimes it is best to step back and let them hang themselves.
Example: If you have a problem with an employee, instead of coming to them right away, start gathering information you can use to fire them.
Law 16: Use Absence To Increase Respect And Honor
Summary: Too much of something decreases the price. Once you are established, withdraw and people will begin to wonder what is happening with you. Increase your value by being more scarce.
Keys To Power: Learn to read the room and see when you need to be more or less present. When you first meet people, you need to increase your presence until your brand is everywhere. Once you start to become valued, you must withdraw so you don’t become too common.
Reversal: This law only works once you have a certain level of power and attention. In the beginning make yourself omnipresent.
Example: Once a new friend group gets to know and enjoy you, suddenly stop showing up. Return sporadically and unpredictably, sensing whether you need to increase or decrease your time with them depending on how they react to you.
Law 17: Keep Others In Suspended Terror: Cultivate An Air Of Unpredictability
Summary: Humans seek control and stability and familiarity. If you are predictable, you give them these feelings, and you will cease to have their attention and focus. Instead be unpredictable. This captures attention and can even intimidate your opponents.
Keys To Power: Powerful people create fear by occasionally striking when people least expect it. Lead them to make one assumption about what you want and then scold them for assuming. Treat people well then switch and start treating them with disdain. These actions will cause them to surrender to your will as they will begin to get confused as to what you want. Throwing in moves that don’t make sense puts people on the defensive, trying to understand and make sense of you.
Reversal: Sometimes being predictable can be of benefit to you. Predictable patterns can lull people into a sense of security. This creates smoke screens for your actions, and makes your unpredictable moments even more shocking.
Example: Switch up your preferences on a regular basis. This will make you more difficult to predict in conversation.
Law 18: Do Not Build Fortresses To Protect Yourself – Isolation Is Dangerous
Summary: Enemies are all over so you must protect yourself. Fortresses seem to be a good choice but isolation often brings more problems than it solves. It stops you from receiving information and makes you a target. Best to continue to build alliances. Fortresses kill flexibility.
Keys To Power: Place yourself at the center of the action and instead of running when attacked, keep your options open. Try to network in more and in different circles. Become a fast and ever moving creature, jumping from group to group. That will make you harder to pinpoint and attack.
Reversal: Isolation is usually bad. But isolation can facilitate deep thought and can allow you to gain perspective. Be careful that you don’t stay isolated for too long as it becomes harder and harder to escape.
Example: If you are thinking of making a serious decision in life, take time to think. This could be about a career change, a relationship, or something else. Go into the wilderness or on a trip by yourself and clear your mind.
Law 19: Know Who You’re Dealing – Do Not Offend The Wrong Person
Summary: Since people are all different, your actions will effect people in different ways. Be careful of those who will spend the rest of their lives seeking revenge. Choose a victim carefully.
Keys To Power: Understanding people is the most important skill in gaining and keeping your power. Study people’s weaknesses and strengths. Look for pride and insecurity. Know how they act under stress, sadness, and anger. Be careful of relying on your instincts and people’s appearances.
Reversal: There is no reversal since you can’t gain from being ignorant about other people.
Example: If you’ve ever seen undercover boss, you have a perfect example of this law. A boss pretends to be a normal worker to see how his business is run on the lower levels. Often the boss discovers that some employees are toxic jerks and others are helpful. Usually the boss reveals themself at the end of the show and fires the toxic employees.
Law 20: Do Not Commit To Anyone
Summary: Don’t rush to choose a side or commit to something. Instead stay as independent as possible and delay any commitments. This allows you more flexibility to play people against each other, yielding you better options. Refusing to commit also increases your value and respect as you become someone who doesn’t just jump on one side or another at the drop of a hat.
Keys To Power: Part I and II. Put yourself between competing powers, luring each side to make offers for your help. Stimulate their hopes of obtaining you with ambiguous hints, by seeming interested and supportive, and by giving gifts. If there are no quarrels between people, stir them up and offer to mediate. When one side begins to lose, only then should you step in and mediate.
Reversal: Be careful that you don’t play too many sides against each other. You might just create a bunch of people who all have a common goal, to attack you. Playing independent for too long might also cause people to lose interest in you.
Example: If a coworker is trying to get you on their side of a work debate, appear empathetic to their plight and seem supportive, but don’t commit to supporting them until there seems to be a clear loser.
Law 21: Play A Sucker To Catch A Sucker – Seem Dumber Than Your Mark
Summary: If you can convince your victims to feel that they are smarter than you, they will never suspect your actions. No one likes to feel dumber than the other person. You can also apply this to other areas like making people appear more sophisticated than you. This law works best for those who are arrogant and overconfident.
Keys To Power: Don’t insult someones brain power. Instead find ways to reassure them that they are smarter than you subliminally. This feeling of superiority will disarm their suspicion. Pretend to act in a way that you aren’t to make people have an inaccurate idea about you. Learn how to make use of the perception of stupidity.
Reversal: Revealing how smart you are rarely is useful. But as you are climbing to the top, you can’t be too dumb. Find a way to tell your superiors you are smarter than your competition or you might be passed over.
Example: Pretend to be dumb on the outside in a business deal. When you write the contract, you will be able to sneak in all sorts of extra details the other person won’t suspect because they think they are smarter than you.
Law 22: Use The Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness Into Power
Summary: Try the surrender tactic if you are weaker instead of fighting for honor. Surrendering irritates the opponent because they cannot gain the satisfaction of finishing you. Surrendering also helps you recover and gives you time to plan an attack for when your enemy is weak.
Keys To Power: Yielding can convince people that they have defeated you even when they have not. Ensure you only appear to surrender. Work your way into the enemy’s confidences, learning their weaknesses and strengths. You can also use this tactic to mock your enemy. If they attack, go over the top illustrating how powerful they are in your reactions. Over obedience can become a tool for attacking back when you have the worse hand.
Reversal: Leave martyrdom alone and ignore this reversal to the law.
Example: If someone insults you instead of reacting and insulting them back, try over obedience. Proclaim loudly that they hurt your feelings. Do so in a mocking and sarcastic way.
Law 23: Concentrate Your Forces
Summary: Stop jumping from thing to thing. Instead focus your forces and attack one task or person. Focused intensity defeats those that fight in an extended manner. When you are looking for a power source, look for one source that can give you resources for a long period of time.
Keys To Power: Freedom can come from attaching yourself to a single source of power. Choose one focus for your actions and do nothing else.
Reversal: Concentration can be dangerous when you are fighting a stronger army. In those situations it is best to take the guerrilla tactic and frustrate them with your elusive and unpredictable strikes. Concentrating on one thing also has another danger. If that campaign or person dies, you suffer seriously.
Example: Instead of starting battles with all of the coworkers you dislike, focus on only attacking the one that causes you the most issue.
Law 24: Play The Perfect Courtier
Summary: The perfect courtier knows how to be flexible and indirect. He can assert power when necessary and yield when it benefits him. Learn this skill and you will rise in any situation.
Keys To Power: Avoid talking about your great deeds because this draws attention and suspicion. Practice making things seem easy and effortless. Flatter, but not too much since excessive flattery devalues what you say. Indirectly set up situations where you can be noticed. Change your behavior and style based on the person you are interacting with. Never be the person who brings bad news. Don’t be the person who first asserts themself as the friendly subordinate. instead let your master initiate friendliness with you. Don’t criticize the people directly above you. Be careful how many favors you ask. Don’t joke about a person’s taste. Avoid becoming the court cynic as you will bring a cloud of misery along with you. Observe yourself and learn how to mirror others. Master your emotional side so it does not cause you issues. Keep your thinking up to date with the times, being neither too forward or past focused. Become a pleasure source for people.
Reversal: No reversal.
Example: When you enter a new friend group, find out what everyone wants and become a source for that want. If they like video games, throw a semi regular game party. Now you control who gets invited and who doesn’t.
Law 25: Recreate Yourself
Summary: Create an identity that captures attention. Often this means rejecting social prerogatives. Find ways to make yourself seem larger than life by including dramatic actions, gestures, and devices.
Keys To Power: You must have the ability to create your own image. First be self aware of your appearance and emotions. This allows you to control yourself better. Second create a memorable character to play. Pay attention to timing when you make your first dramatic entrance. Unfold events slowly and then speed them up. Think of ways to answer the questions people ask while still remaining ambiguous, comedic, and double edged. Learn to appreciate stage entrances and exits. Be careful to not overreact. Lastly, learn to play many roles and faces.
Reversal: There is no reversal. Bad acting is always harmful and reduces your power.
Example: When you speak, use speed, tone, and information to captivate the audience. Think of ways you can be funny and ambiguous.
Law 26: Keep Your Hands Clean
Summary: Maintaining an appearance of civility, efficiency, and unspoildness means separating yourself from nasty deeds. Appear spotless by using people to disguise your involvement with scapegoating and cat’s paws.
Keys To Power: People experience blame and guilt. You can get rid of a society or groups feelings by choosing a scapegoat and blaming all the mistakes and ill on it. Typically you want to choose someone who is less powerful and can’t fight back, but sometimes choosing someone who will fight back makes the scapegoat more believable. Ask yourself what you have to gain by choosing one scapegoat over another. Find someone who knows too much or is becoming disdainful of you.
The cats paw is a person who does the dirty work for you so you can remain clean. To do this you must disguise your goal and plan several moves in advance. Study how the person typically acts and find a way to use that behavior for your goals. Plant information with the person that they will then spread to your main target of attack.
Reversal: It can be advantageous to broadcast your involvement in certain situation. If people know you are responsible for a deed it can create a feeling of fear and intimidation. Think about the consequences of people discovering or not discovering your involvement. That will help you decide to use the strategy or the reversal.
Example: If you know a friend who is a gossip, plant information with them that will irritate your enemy. Try accidentally letting the information slip so they think it is more likely to be correct.
Law 27: Play On People’s Need To Believe To Create A Cult Like Following
Summary: People want to believe. Focus this desire on you by giving them purpose. Be vague and promise them what they want, if they follow. Keep people focused on enthusiasm rather than rational clear thinking. Create rituals and sacrifices for them to perform to prove their commitment. Remember, creating a cult like following relies strongly on your ability to convince others that you have something they want.
Keys To Power: Step 1 is to keep it vague and simple. Attract people’s attention with ambiguous words that promise something great, not concrete actions. Once people start to gather around you, move to the second step. Step 2 is to focus people on the visual and sensory over the rational and intellectual. Do this with luxury and impressive visuals. Appeal to all the senses. They will be so focused on what you have that they won’t think clearly about whether following you makes sense. The 3rd step is to organize your following by creating a hierarchy of followers with rituals for them to perform. Give leaders religious titles that convey their sanctity and power. Get them to donate money to your cause. Look to religion and copy elements to complete this step. 4th you need to disguise how you really make money so people don’t realize they are the true source of your wealth. Make it seem like your money comes from the truth of your methods. Finally you need to create an us versus them dynamic. This keeps your followers bound together and united. Make them feel like they are part of an exclusive club with an important goal. Manufacture examples of the enemy trying to attack your group. Invent an enemy if you don’t have one.
Reversal: If you fail at the above steps you could end up with a group of people who want to attack you. Stay attuned to the mood of the crowd to ensure this doesn’t happen. Because of the risk of having a group of people attack you, you might prefer to focus on people one at a time. One person is easier to escape than a crowd.
Example: When you enter a new social environment figure out what they want. Display signs that you have what they want. Follow the steps above to grow your power.
Law 28: Enter Action With Boldness
Summary: It is best to be certain when you take an action. If you aren’t, it will show as you hesitate under pressure. Instead enter with boldness. Mistakes made can be fixed with more boldness. No one admires people who are timid.
Keys To Power: Hesitation puts roadblocks in your path while boldness removes them. Ask for the moon and you will be impressed how often you end up getting it. People have a sense for weakness. In first encounters be careful not to back down, retreat, or compromise. Boldness makes you seem more powerful because it creates fear. This sets a precedent for how people expect you to act. Audacity makes you stand out, and standing out draws power.
Reversal: If you are too bold too frequently, it can begin to make it harder to strategize. While being timid has no place in power, you must be able to fake it so people fall into your traps.
Example: Instead of staying in the back of the room, move to the middle and start socializing with everyone as soon as you arrive. This will quell much social anxiety.
Law 29: Plan All The Way To the End
Summary: In order to achieve victory you must plan all the way to the end. Study the obstacles, twists, and consequences that your moves might have. If you have a good plan you won’t get overwhelmed. You also won’t go past your goal.
Keys To Power: Make your plans and goals extremely specific. Be realistic about the risks and dangers you will encounter. Ask if you will stir up new enemies. Ask if you can avoid taking an action and still get to your goal. Often achieving power is about what you avoid doing just as much as what actions you take.
Reversal: People lose more from vague plans than they do from the rigidity of a well thought out strategy. There is no real purpose for thinking about a reversal to this law.
Example: Create a detailed career plan. Study the resumes of those who’s position you desire. Ask yourself what are the necessary skills and connections they all have? What skills, connections, and traits would give you the most possible leverage when compared to your peers.
Law 30: Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless
Summary: Hide all the hard work that goes into your accomplishments. If you hide how hard you work it creates an aura of mystery and power. If you tell others how hard you work it only makes them less impressed. Don’t teach people the tricks you use or you should expect them to get used against you. If you conceal your hard work, people will begin to think of how much more you could accomplish if you tried even more. This elicits fear. If people think you are the only one who can do what you do it also increases your leverage.
Keys To Power: People are in awe of what they don’t understand (lightning used to be passed off as something caused by the gods). Practice making everything you do effortless. Conceal your shortcuts and tricks that you use to get things done. Avoid the temptation of telling others how hard you work or showing how clever you are. Before you speak ask yourself if you are breaking this law in order to have your vanity satisfied. Consider not revealing your project until it is complete.
Reversal: Careful not to appear to be trying too hard to conceal your work. It can come off as you taking the game too seriously or being a try hard. You might want to involve people in the inner workings of your masterpieces sometimes. It can create a sense of attachment if done correctly. Try partially disclosing tricks and techniques when it most benefits you.
Example: If you are studying for a graduate or professional test, don’t tell anyone how long and hard you study. Instead, brush off any comments about the topic. When you score well, people will begin to think you are naturally talented or bright. This perception will positively effect other areas of your life as people will think you are more likely to be competent in those areas. This will lead them to be more likely to differ to you.
Law 31: Control The Options: Get Others To Play With The Cards You Deal
Summary: Give people the appearance of choice and they will feel in control. Make sure both options benefit you.
Keys To Power: People are paralyzed by unlimited options. Make sure you don’t give people too many choices or it will overwhelm them. You can also influence which choice people make by presenting one choice as the clear best option. Another trick is to push people towards the option you don’t want them to take and they will revolt and choose the opposite. Rockefeller used a technique that forced people’s hands. Instead of directly trying to buy their company, he would purchase all of the companies they worked with and then raise the prices. Eventually the company had to sell since they could no longer do business at that cost. You can also use the shrinking options technique. When people are hesitant to purchase, present them with three good options. They will want to think about it. When they come back, present them with three different options of lower quality. Pretend these options where the ones you showed them originally. Keep repeating this until they get desperate and buy. You can also do this by continually raising the price. Another method is to create fear in all the directions except the one you want people to take. Another key is to implicate people in a crime that could most hurt you. If you go down, they go down too. Finally you can use the horns of a dilemma trick. Present people with two narratives that both hurt them. Pressure them to choose one before they can think it through. A final thing to keep in mind is that you always want to make it seem like your target is responsible for any pain, problem, increase in price, or other issue that comes as you try to force them to action. If it looks like you hurt them on purpose, they won’t trust you. If it looks like they were hurt because of their indecision, they will accept it.
Reversal: Sometimes by limiting a person’s choice you limit your own options. Occasionally giving them lots of room to act gives you useful information about their behavior. Make sure the benefit of controlling the options is more valuable than the information you gain from watching them roam free.
bat you are happy with. Make both seem intriguing by citing reviews and appealing dishes.
Law 32: Play To People’s Fantasies
Summary: People avoid reality and the truth because life is hard. Don’t bring it up unless you want to make people angry. On the other hand people who create romance or fantasy have people flock to them to live in a fantasy world.
Keys To Power: Fantasy works best on people who have a stable, mundane, and boring life. Look for what imprisons them and find a way to create a fantasy that liberates it. Examples include poor to rich, sick to healthy, weak to powerful, and misery to ecstasy. The key is to employ distance in your fantasy by making what they want ungraspable. Stay vague in your promises.
Reversal: Sometimes people have such a crazy life that their fantasy is the simple life.
Example: Instead of telling people that making it on the internet takes years of hard work, gurus focus on people who’ve made it to sell the idea the success is “just around the corner.”
Law 33: Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew
Summary: Everyone has a weakness that can be exploited to your advantage. Typically weaknesses are found near strong emotions, needs, secret pleasures, or insecurities. Make a habit of finding people’s weaknesses.
Keys To Power: Those who disguise their weaknesses are the ones most vulnerable to an attack if you find the right spot. Here are the steps. First, pay attention to conversations. Try sharing a fake weakness with the other person to see if they reciprocate a real one. Train yourself to look for details. How do they tip waiters? What do they wear? Look for their idols and the things they worship. Perhaps you can supply or threaten that. Second, try probing the supposed weakness. If you think the person needs love and attention, flatter them and watch how they react. If they lap up your words regardless of how obvious they are, you are headed down the right path. Third, pay attention to what makes them act like a child. Keep in mind most weaknesses are created from childhood. Were they overindulged or ignored? Look for behavior that doesn’t match adulthood and should have been outgrown. Fourth, look for contrasts in their image. People who bang on their chests are often cowards. You can even look for a person who has a larger effect on someone’s ideas and behavior. Fifth, fill the void the person is missing, for example, giving social validation to the insecure. Finally, find the root emotions like fear, vanity, hatred, lust, or greed. People who feel these emotions can’t control themselves.
Reversal: Attacking a person’s weakness might stir up an attack or emotion you can’t control. Plan accordingly for all reactions. Beware, the more weakness a person has the greater potential problems and damage they could unleash. Don’t get carried away.
Example: Some people are deeply hurt by social embarrassment. Pretend to be their friend to find out their most embarrassing moment. Then bring it up in a public place when they act in a way you don’t want.
Greene gives an example of a young king who was controlled by his mother. The mother was influenced by her lover. A man came to court and began to climb the ladder of power. He realized the lover had much influence on what happened. The man wanted to eliminate those who stood between his position and the king. So he started treating the lover as if he was the actual king. Eventually the king became jealous and killed the lover and took control of the kingdom. The man moved up the ladder of power and became a powerful leader.
Law 34: Be Royal In Your Own Fashion: Act Like A King To Be Treated Like One
Summary: People treat others based on how they perceive them. If you carry yourself well, people will treat you that way. If you appear to be like everyone else, people will disrespect you. Act regally and confident so others think you are destined to lead.
Keys To Power: Use the strategy of the crown. It is to believe we are destined for great things. Do this by overcoming your self doubt and filling you mind with self belief. Focus on your successes and ignore your failures. Act with dignity regardless of the circumstance. Act if you are already at the top of the social ladder. Always make bold demands. Go after the highest person in the building or social ladder. This puts you on the same plane as the person you are attacking. A similar thing can be accomplished by giving people gifts. It creates an equality between the giver and receiver.
Reversal: If you act better than people it can turn them against you. Never think that you can elevate yourself by humiliating others.
Example: Dress slightly better than the people around you. Always have good posture. Don’t go too overboard because it might cause jealousy.
Law 35: Master The Art Of Timing
Summary: If you seem like you are in a hurry it makes you look weak. You don’t appear to have control over time, your schedule, and your actions. Instead, pretend to be patient and everything you want will find its way to you eventually. Focus on being a detective. Spot the zeitgeist and follow it to power. Wait when the time isn’t right and attack quickly when it is.
Keys To Power: Time slows when you control your emotions. Control of your emotions is the main requirement for this law. People who hurry might get there first from time to time, but they will find themselves in constant crises that wipe out the small gains. Instead, slow down when pressured and you will make better decisions. Slowing down will help you avoid traps, see further forward in time, be more flexible, and complete tasks instead of jumping to new ones. In some situations you might need to control other people’s emotions. You can used time as an offensive weapon, upsetting the timing of others. Make them hurry, wait, or change pace. Making them follow your pace also has a hypnotic effect, especially in storytelling.
Reversal: There is no reversal since giving up control over time inherently brings less power.
Example: Instead of following the crowd to the current popular trend, invest your time into spotting the next trend. Create a strategy that will allow you to capitalize on it before everyone else. This works extremely well on social media. For example, does a person who sets trends have a new look? Do they commonly reveal albums during the same time of year? Once you can figure this out, use deduction to come up with as much information about the upcoming trend as you can so you can be ahead of the game when it strikes.
Law 36: Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them Is The Best Revenge
Summary: Sometimes ignoring a problem really is the best way to minimize it or make it go away. By acknowledging the issue or trying to fix it you make it credible. If there is something you can’t have but that you want, pretend to dislike it. By not revealing your desires you seem more superior. Desire that you don’t seem to control makes you seem pathetic or weak.
Keys To Power: Commitment and engagement can weaken your power. Instead, when you want something turn and pretend you don’t. If an insignificant enemy attacks you, you can only lose by fighting back. If you win you look petty and create sympathy for the other side. If you lose, well you lost.
If you can’t have something, act as if you never wanted it in the first place. If you are attacked by an inferior person, portray the image of someone who wasn’t even attacked. Answer kindly, look the other way, or join in on the joke.
Reversal: Be careful of the problems that grow if you ignore them. Ignore publicly but keep track privately if the person seems to have markers of future power.
Example: If you cannot have the newest gadget, look up all the problems with it. Simply cite your newfound issues with the product when asked why you didn’t upgrade.
Law 37: Create Compelling Spectacles
Summary: People respond to grand imagery and impressive gestures. It captivates them. While people are watching the spectacle you put forth, you can go about your business.
Keys To Power: A sufficient impressive spectacle makes verbal argument and reasoning unnecessary. Explaining yourself means your power is under question. To use symbols and images correctly in your spectacles, first pay attention to how you display things visually. Research the effects of colors on people’s perception. Associate yourself with powerful symbols and people will perceive you as having immense power. Pay attention to sequence as the first thing to show up symbolizes power. The center object has a similar appeal. The commander of a tank battalion appeared at the front and in the center, so many from other armies started thinking he was in charge. Find a way to use symbols to encapsulate your movement.
Reversal: There is no reversal to this law.
Example: Dress like your manager. Dress like the people whose job you desire.
Law 38: Think As You Like But Behave Like The Others
Summary: Society attacks those who step out of line. If you flaunt your different lifestyle or thoughts, people will look down upon you, thinking you view yourself as superior. They will try to punish you. Instead appear to blend in.
Keys To Power: Practice putting on a mask similar to those around you. Repeat parts of people’s ideas back to them. Mirror their style, behaviors, values, and desires. But be coy about how you copy people as they will potentially catch on.
Reversal: When you have enough power it is usually worth standing out since you stand out anyway. You can also find a place as the person who flaunts culture under certain circumstances. Comedians often make jokes most couldn’t get away with, but they do largely because they are funny.
Example: If you live in an area that has a different political opinion, pretend to not care or be sympathetic to their cause. Instead challenge their views of your true side’s arguments by acting as an insider.
Law 39: Stir Up Waters To Catch Fish
Summary: Create situations that put people off balance by finding an opening in their armor and attacking their vanity. This will stir up emotions which make it easier for you to deal with them and pull their strings.
Keys To Power: You don’t need to repress your anger, simply reframe it. Understand that nothing is personal in the game of power and people are simply acting on a chain of events that probably started long before you arrived. Don’t be vain and think you are significant enough to have been the sole cause of their behavior. Acting out of anger usually cuts off your options and you need options to thrive. Instead attack the manhood of the insecure, or bait the arrogant into rash behavior. Nothing makes people as angry as someone stays calm while others are angry.
Reversal: If you stir up the wrong person you could end up provoking a conflict you can’t win. There are also times when a well timed burst of anger can do you well.
Example: Find out what your enemy’s weakness is by studying how they act with others and what makes them angry. Then when everyone is watching, poke that weakness and watch as their anger makes them look like a child in front of everyone.
Law 40: Despise The Free Lunch
Summary: When people give others something for free it often involves a hidden obligation or expectation for your actions. If something is valuable, pay for it. When you do this you avoid guilt and deceit. When you do have money, be generous with it as it is a sign of power, and can also draw more power to you.
Keys To Power: There are people who have weak relationships with money. The Greedy Fish ends up isolated because they look at everything as a balance sheet. They offend people. The Bargain Demon wastes time hunting for a deal, even if their time is more valuable than the money they saved. The Sadist uses money to assert their power. They think that giving you money means they can meddle in all aspects of your position and torture and abuse you. The Indiscriminate Giver wants people to like them so they just give to everyone. But this deprives the gift of any power since everyone gets one.
Reversal: You can apply the opposite of this law by dangling a free lunch in front of someone. Bait them with easy money and once they commit find a way to make it back and then some.
Example: Give gifts to key people in your social group. They will believe they are special and feel the need to repay later.
Law 41: Avoid Stepping Into A Great Man’s Shoes
Summary: If you follow someone who has done a decent or great job, you will have to accomplish double in order to outshine their actions. Avoid getting stuck in their shadow. Instead build your own identity and reputation. Go your own way.
Keys To Power: The past can prevent you from creating your own world. Tradition and precedent hold you back. One way to escape is to belittle the past. Establish a symbolic ritual different from your predecessor. If they played golf, play football. Don’t ever be seen to follow your predecessor’s path. Become your own father. Be careful that success doesn’t turn you into a fat and lazy person, find a way to psychologically return to square one.
Reversal: Sometimes displaying how different you are from the person before can make you seem childish or uncontrolled. Sometimes the past really has useful elements you can learn from. You can also use a reversed version of this law to stop the future power wielders from gaining momentum. Hire them as assistants and then make it so they can never leave your side. Use psychological tricks to make them feel inferior. Use social tricks to make them seem undesirable.
Example: Instead of entering the same field as your parent, choose another career path that has high possibilities of growth.
Law 42: Strike The Shepherd And The Sheep Will Scatter
Summary: Some people are irredeemable. They never cease to cause problems. You must learn to spot them and attack mercilessly. Don’t negotiate. Seek to banish or isolate them and your other people problems will scatter.
Keys To Power: Find the person who is at the core of problems. Point them out to people discretely. Separate them from their power base. Remember absence from the court is isolation. Lure your enemies away from power at critical moments. New environments make people more vulnerable and uncomfortable. Seek out those with power who are isolated. Provide them with information they lack. Remember the reason you strike the shepherd is that it will scare their followers and make them retreat. It also serves to flush out any additional enemies you might have, and causes disorder in the resistance.
Reversal: Sometimes you can minimize a person’s damage and cause them more harm if you keep them by your side. Banishing them can cause resentment and make them fight harder. Keeping them by your side gives you opportunities to thwart their actions, and chances to spy. This also lets you whither away their power base so you can eventually discard them.
Example: If one employee is constantly fighting against your plans, try to fire them or stick them on a solo project where they can’t build support or cause issues.
Law 43: Work On The Hearts And Minds Of Others
Summary: It is best to make people want to move in your direction instead of using force to compel them. Learn their psychology and their weaknesses. Play to their emotions and what they fear and desire. If you don’t pay attention to people’s desires and instead use force, they will eventually start to hate you.
Keys To Power: The key to persuading people is to work on their emotions and weaknesses. Look for what the share with others and what makes them different. Look to focus on their main emotions like jealousy, love, and hatred. The fastest way to win a person’s mind is to tell them how an action will serve their self interest. Learn to play the numbers game by forming a large network of both those with and with out power.
Reversal: No reversal.
Example: Instead of sharing your reasons why someone should act, tell them why the action will benefit them. If you sell software, tell the customer how the software will make them more efficient, bring less stress and confusion, and reduce training costs.
Law 44: Disarm And Infuriate With The Mirror Effect
Summary: If you mirror your enemy it makes it more difficult for them to figure out what you are up to. It is perfect for deception. Mirroring humiliates and mocks them and can lead to overreactions. Seduce people by making them think you share the same values.
Keys To Power: There are four mirror effects. The Neutralizing Effect means enemies can’t spot what you are up to since you are just copying them. Next is the Shadow. Following their moves with out them spotting you can allow you to gather information and attack their every move. Another is called the Narcissus Effect. When you mimic a person psychologically it satisfies their lack of self love from their childhood. They begin to think of you as another version of themselves. The Moral Effect is another version. In this version you reflect the words, actions, or thoughts back at the person, giving them a taste of their own medicine. Do what they do to you. If they insult your appearance, insult theirs. When their actions come back to them they experience the harm they caused in a way not possible through discussion or argument. Finally is the Hallucinatory Effect. It happens when you create a perfect copy of something and that copy mimics the actual world enough to trick you.
Reversal: Mirroring something might make you seem like a weaker version of the thing you copy. Mirroring can also start to persuade you that the thing you mirror is what you actually desire.
Example: If someone insults you, insult them in a similar way. If they accuse you of something, find a way to accuse them of the same thing, muddying the waters.
Law 45: Preach The Need For Change, But Never Reform Too Much At Once
Summary: Too much change can cause people to revolt. If you are creating your power base, don’t change too much. Show that you respect the old ways. Make any necessary change seem like an improvement on what was already happening in the past.
Keys To Power: It is easier to preach change with out changing too much. If you must, seek to reinterpret the past in a way that supports your desired movement. Keep the rituals and appearances of the past to give your new changes legitimacy. Another way to hide change is to publicly make a declaration of support for the past. Appear to be a staunch past supporter and few people will realize how much you are changing. New ways of seeing the world often triumph not because it convinces opponents but because those opponents die and the new generation is familiar. You must also pay attention to the zeitgeist and calibrate your reforms so they don’t appear to change too much.
Reversal: Revolution can work well but only in a period of stagnation. Be careful because if you join the revolution few live to see the finish line. It also works well when there is a period where the masses begin to resent parts of the past. Fill the void with new things they prefer.
Example: If you live in an are that doesn’t match your political beliefs, find a way to reinterpret your desired changes as outgrowths of their policies.
Law 46: Never Appear Too Perfect
Summary: It is dangerous to appear to have no faults since envy creates resentment and enemies. Occasionally share defects in categories that can’t really harm you.
Keys To Power: People hide envy with excessive praise or by finding other things the person is not perfect in. You can use this envy as a motivator to compete and make yourself better. Make sure to disguise your skills and qualities so people don’t turn and fight against you. You can also act humbly and deferentially to those below you. Play up the role of luck in your accomplishments. Another tactic is to make a show of refusing the new elevated position before accepting it. Next you can create a fictional weakness that those who envy you can focus so they don’t find your main problems. This will make them seem petty. Finally you can subtly mention to others how your new success will benefit them.
Reversal: Once people envy you the best approach is to display disdain for them. Make your perfection obvious and it will irritate them.
Example: Once you are at the top of your friend group, share a weakness to make yourself seem more human. Maybe you are terrible at singing.
Law 47: Do Not Go Past The Mark You Aimed For: In Victory, Learn When To Stop
Summary: The arrogant undo themselves when they win by going past the goal they aimed for. When you do this you move into an area you didn’t strategize for. This makes you more enemies than you originally planned for and defeated in the first conquest. Set a goal for yourself and then learn to stop once you reach it.
Keys To Power: The essence of strategic action is the ability to control what happens or doesn’t happen next. This ability comes because of planning. When you win, lie low and lure the enemy into complacency. Learn to change your rhythm. It is also dangerous to ask for more when given a chance or gift. Instead accept the opportunity graciously. Earn future gifts.
Reversal: Either destroy a person or leave them alone. Momentum is overrated.
Example: When you play sports, try to win. But when victory is clear, there is no need to humiliate the opposition. You then create enemies that will carry their irritation outside the game and into the real world.
Law 48: Assume Formlessness
Summary: Stay adaptable and fluid like water and your enemy will find it difficult to attack you. Visible plans and concrete habits make you predictable and attack able. Remember nothing in life is fixed or certain.
Keys To Power: Power comes to those who express creativity and entertain people. Guerrilla warfare demonstrates this law well by attacking and then retreating and then attacking again when unexpected. Train yourself to not take things personally. Flexibility and change in your behavior gives you the power to alter your rules when they cease to suit you anymore. Predictability and largeness are ways of getting attacked. Another way you can lose power is when you allow people to disdain and ridicule you over long periods of time. These attacks eventually erode your power. Eventually the jokes and quips evolve into dominance challenges. Learn to adapt to new circumstances by throwing out the old rules. Too much respect for what other people think will make you value your own wisdom less.
Reversal: When attacking you must make it a concentrated blow regardless of whether you are being fluid in your larger strategy.
Example: Some think the laws of power contradict themselves. Remember they are just tools to be picked up and put down when it suits you best. Be flexible in your application of what you learned.
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