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 ~


Sunday, April 22, 2012

The 48 Laws of Power, #2: Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends; Learn to Use Your Enemies

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.

Law #2: Never put too much trust in friends; learn to use your enemies.

Simply put, your friends like you, are well meaning and want to see that you benefit. They also have their own lives and concerns and will "get around" to doing what you ask of them, of looking out for you when it's convenient for them.

Enemies however, are committed. By learning to manipulate your enemies into action (or inaction), you can also spur your friends into action.

13 comments:

walt said...

The old phrase, "friend to those who need no friends," has described my relations with people over the years.

I came to value "associates," more than friends, and found that the relationships held up better -- that is, co-mingling based on common interests rather than feelings. But maybe it's all in how one defines the words.

Having your enemies prove useful is ... useful, but tricky!

Yamabushi said...

It is a very good book and you have chosen a very interesting law to point out. More often we strive to see our enemies fail, and in so doing how much benefit do we bring ourselves?

Rick said...

@Walt, I have a few old friends (like from before elementary school) with whom I am still close, although we don't see each other as often as I like.

@Yamabushi, I think the Power game is to be considered very deeply before diving in. If you're going to play, you'd better win.

The Strongest Karate said...

One of my favorite examples from the 48 Laws of Power is about this guy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Lustig

Eifel Tower, Al Capone, etc...Mr. Lustig was a very industrious man!

Rick said...

The stories used to illustrate the 48 Laws of Power are among the things I really like about the book. The stories are very entertaining.

Paul said...

That's why I don't care (too much) about "friendly" comments. This ain't one, for goodness sake!.....:):):):):)

Well, I'm not joking if you might think so. Didn't you guys see a lot of rathr meaningless "well done", "nice", "impressed" comments in the bloggiing community? But we bloggers just LOVE to read those "positive" comments....from friends (quote and unquote).

Rick said...

It is your competition, your adversaries that make you better.

Rick said...

To follow up my last comment ...

Rick said...

Damn.

http://www.fastcompany.com/1835827/buyology-martin-lindstrom-branding-marketing-know-they-enemy?partner=gnews&google_editors_picks=true

Paul said...

Rick nice article...When Steve was losing his Mac battle with PC, he hired John Sculley from Pepsi, a talent from the one of the most marketing oriented fast moving consumer products companies in US, to be Apple's president. A year later with the Board's support John ousted Steve! After 10 years with near-disaster ending for Apple, John was ousted and Steve back. Ironically, Steve's final success in Apple has not been a winning battle over PC, but a winning battle over fast moving electronic companies with his mobile phone! Perhaps Steve did learn a few tricks from John and did it better than John the marketer!

...who is a friend, and who is an enemy? Who knows? And who has the last laugh....:):):)

Rick said...

Steve Jobs kept changing the game.

mike delisca said...

@Rick i like how you think.

Rick said...

@Mike, in that case, be afraid. :-)