The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Friday, January 20, 2012

The 48 Laws of Power, #1: Never Outshine the Master

One of my favorite books on strategy is The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers.  Where The Art of War, by Sun Tzu is written as an overview of the whole topic of strategy, seeking to provide an overall understanding of the subject; and The 36 Strategies tries to impart the knack of strategic thinking through 36 maxims related to well known Chinese folk stories, Mr. Greene focuses on how we influence and manipulate one another, ie "power".

Mr. Greene draws from both Eastern and Western history and literature as his source material. Sun Tzu and Machiavelli as cited as much as wonderful stories of famous con men. Among my favorites is about a scrap metal dealer thinking he bought the Eiffel Tower.

Each of the 48 Laws carries many examples, along with counter examples where it is appropriate that they be noted, and even reversals.

It is a very thorough study of the subject and the hardback version is beautifully produced.

The first law is: Never Outshine the Master.

Law 1 Never Outshine the Master

Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please or impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the opposite inspire fear and insecurity. Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power.

That is, don't give your boss cause to feel threatened by outshining him. Unless of course, you're about to push him out of the way to get ahead.

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