Theme Editor


Sign in / up

Littler Books cover of The 48 Laws of Power Summary

The 48 Laws of Power Summary, Notes, and Quotes

Robert Greene

3.9 minutes to read
Get full book

Download summary as PDF, eBook/ePub, DOCX

The 48 Laws of Power: One Sentence Summary

An influential and controversial book that reveals the timeless principles of achieving success and mastering the art of power in any situation.

The 48 Laws of Power: Bullet Point Summary, Notes, and Quotes

The author argues that reality is not always honest and fair, and to help you achieve power and success, you should apply the following, sometimes controversial, laws.

  1. Never outshine the master. Let your superiors feel comfortable. Don't make them feel inadequate, and avoid working with them if you can't help it.
  2. Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies. Friends often hide their true feelings. Having an enemy as an aid will avoid any personal feelings and motives will be clear.
  3. Conceal your intentions. It will leave your opponents more defenseless.
  4. Always say less than necessary. The more you say, the more information you reveal to your opponents, and the more opportunity to appear foolish.
  5. So much depends on reputation -- guard it with your life. Reputation is the cornerstone of power.
  6. Court attention at all costs. The more you stand out, the more people are drawn to you. It's even better to be slandered than to be ignored.
  7. Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit. Use other people's skills and knowledge to boost your own power, but make sure your position is secure.
  8. Make other people come to you -- use bait if necessary. Luring your opponents in makes them abandon their plans. You want them to react to your plans, not the other way around.
  9. Win through your actions, never through argument. Wins through arguments won't last and will build resentment. Wins through actions are more impactful.
  10. Infection: avoid the unhappy and the unlucky. They tend to portray themselves as victims and will infect you with their misery.
  11. Learn to keep people dependent on you. The more people are reliant on you, the more power and freedom you have. Don't teach people so much that they also become independent.
  12. Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim. You need to give before you're able to take. The acts of honesty and generosity do not have to be very consequential to be effective.
  13. When asking for help, appeal to the self-interests of others, never to their mercy or gratitude. Exaggerate the benefits for the people you're asking help from. Self-interest is the biggest motivator.
  14. Pose as a friend, work as a spy. Ask indirect questions to obtain information you need. Ask others to spy for you if you can't pose as a friend.
  15. Crush your enemy totally. Eliminate all possibilities for a comeback or revenge from your opponent.
  16. Use absence to increase respect and honor. Decreased availability increases your perceived value.
  17. Keep others suspended in terror: cultivate an air of unpredictability. Acting predictability gives others an advantage over you. People will be intimidated by you if they can't understand or predict you.
  18. Do not build fortresses to protect yourself -- isolation is dangerous. Surrounding yourself with people will give you more information and social clout.
  19. Know who you're dealing with. Do not offend the wrong person. Do your due diligence on the people you work with. Don't trust appearances.
  20. Don't commit to anyone. It can be used against you. Avoid other people's conflicts and maintain independence to create respect.
  21. Play a sucker to catch a sucker -- appear dumber than your mark. This will hide your ulterior motives from your unsuspecting opponent.
  22. Use the surrender tactic: transform weakness into power. Surrendering denies your opponents some satisfaction of winning and better prepares you for revenge.
  23. Concentrate your forces. It's easier to gain and maintain power if it's from a single or a few sources. Power exists in concentrated form -- all companies have a handful of people with all the power.
  24. Play the perfect courtier. Flatter and please superiors to use their influence.
  25. Recreate yourself. Have control of your own self-image, don't let others create it for you.
  26. Keep your hands clean. Do not be associated with bad doings. Use a scapegoat to avoid blame and conceal involvement.
  27. Create a cult-like following by playing on people's need to believe. Concoct vague promises and emphasize enthusiasm rather than reason.
  28. Enter action with boldness. Do not show doubt or timidity in your actions. This trait can be practiced and learned.
  29. Plan all the way to the end. Think through every possibility to avoid surprises. The more detailed your plan is, the better.
  30. Make your accomplishments seem effortless. Conceal your hardships and methods of achieving success. Maintain an air of intrigue and mystery. Make people think you're special and your accomplishments can't be replicated.
  31. Control the options: get others to play with the cards you deal. When you give people a few options, they think they're in control, when in reality they are failing to see the rest of the options that you are withholding from them.
  32. Play into people's fantasies. Exploit people's idealized visions to gain support.
  33. Discover each man's thumbscrew. Uncover people's insecurities and weaknesses, and use them to your advantage.
  34. Be royal in your own fashion: act like a king to be treated like one. Present yourself with self-respect and confidence. Believe in your potential for greatness and others will believe it too.
  35. Master the art of timing. Be patient and do not appear rushed. Time is a perception, mastering your emotions will slow down time.
  36. Disdain things you cannot have: ignoring them is the best revenge. To conquer the things that irritate you, don't be interested in them and don't give credibility to them.
  37. Create compelling spectacles. Devise grandiose visual gestures to awe people and appeal to them emotionally. This will boost your reputation and power.
  38. Think as you like, but behave like others. Do not dissent too often or people will find you condescending. Disseminate your true ideas gradually.
  39. Stir up the waters to catch fish. Find your opponents' weaknesses and make them unsettled. The more distraught they are, the less power they wield.
  40. Despise the free lunch. Everything worthy comes at a cost. Free things come with psychological debt. Generosity softens people up to be deceived.
  41. Avoid stepping into a great man's shoes. You will seem unoriginal. Create your own identity.
  42. Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will scatter. Power is usually concentrated in one or two people in any organization. Identify and hamper them to effectively alter power.
  43. Work on the hearts and minds of others. Do not use coercion. Use seduction. Understand people's emotions and appeal to them, so they want to do what you're asking.
  44. Disarm and infuriate with the mirror effect. Copying what your opponents are doing can agitate and confuse them, and cause them to overreact.
  45. Preach the need for change, but never reform too much at once. Respect the authority and culture that came before you. Too much transformation at once can lead to a revolt. Introduce changes gradually.
  46. Never appear too perfect. Showing harmless flaws will make you more approachable and reduce envy.
  47. Don't go past the mark you aimed for: in victory, learn when to stop. Do not let success cloud your judgment and become too overconfident, or you'll become vulnerable and make mistakes.
  48. Assume formlessness. Don't be stubborn, always be ready to adapt to change. Failure to adapt is a sure way to lose power.

The 48 Laws of Power: Resources