You love learning, experimenting and pushing yourself to higher level’s through the daily pursuit of excellence you set for yourself. You attempt to do this in large part through soaking in as much enriching educational content as possible. It almost seem’s almost unconscionable to miss the next Tim Ferrisspodcast or Gary Vaynerchuk video.
You will always be a student. You’re dedicating this current time in your 20s for a state of mass learning through various outlets. The list of book’s you have to purchase totals thousands of dollars. Your ‘Watch Later’ on YouTube can top 40 video’s at times. Your email’s continue to grow because as you go off to transcribe an article onto your website, another arrives in your inbox. You love asking deep questions to those you admire.
As Robert Moore would say you are very strong in the ‘Magician’ archetype.
Hence you love the idea of being ‘the knower’ — the ritual elder who guides himself and those around him with a deep well of powerful knowledge. You aim to experience and understand your reality with a large degree of profundity that few know.
You have a great capacity to think and ponder. You have used this in conjunction with the ‘Warrior archetype’ to act with audacity and relentlessness many a time. However, you can become very unbalanced in this aspect if you are not careful, disciplined and patient.
A Word Warning:
Your ‘fear of missing out’ can poison you into a state of limbo. You wish you could sleep less so you could spend more time creating and learning. You could finally spend more time checking off all those thing’s to watch, read listen to, and eventually do. To paraphrase Robert Moore,
“Be careful not to fall into the trap of being the man who thinks too much. Who stands back from life and never lives it. Be wary not to be caught in a web of pro’s and cons about your decisions and loose yourself in a labyrinth of reflective meanderings from which you cannot extricate yourself.
Do not be the man who is too afraid to live and ‘leap into battle’ because he is too busy sitting on his rock thinking. The years will pass and you will wonder where the time has gone. Do not go too far and end up regretting a life of sterility.”
Never be so afraid of making a decision that you make none at all.
To balance this archetypal energy in you, you will eventually get to a point in your life where you will cull almost everything. You will get to a point where you will massively reduce the degree to which you to consume and create media. By the time you read this again, you may be much closer to making that decision. Or you may already be living through it. Honor this liberating change by letting your intuition flow freely. Know, it is the right decision.
You will no doubt question yourself if it is the right one. Once again, trust the intuition of your heart and soul that you have honed for all these years. Trust the knowledge and experience you have built and cultivated through all those years of work.
Do not fear though, you will not stop growing. You are simply changing the medium’s to which you interface and catalyze your growth. Instead of predominately learning through the incredible resource of the internet. You will most likely move to enriching face to face human interaction’s, restorative boundary pushing experiences, and maybe a few book’s here and there. It will make you uncomfortable at first as you reflect on all the ground breaking thought provoking inspiring thing’s you may be missing out on through the platforms you obsessively consume. But this process will teach you how to be at peace with not knowing what you don’t know.
Understand: Often times you don’t need any more information. Be at peace that you know enough. This may sound counterintuitive to self-growth, but when you come from a place of trying to consume as much water from the fire hose as possible you know this is the right move.
Remember Alexander, just because you know more, doesn’t mean you are grounded with the information you know. The most important book in our lives is our self reflection. Write your own book…
“Use the wisdom, knowledge, and legwork of other people to further your own cause. Not only will such assistance save you valuable time and energy, it will give you a godlike aura of efficiency and speed. In the end your helpers will be forgotten and you will be remembered. Never do yourself what others can do for you.”
Transgression & Observance Of The Law
This story centers around a young Serbian scientist named Nicola Tesla and US inventor Thomas Edison. The significance of this story is contained within the lessons of how Nikola Tesla was taken advantage of and how he is the real inventor of many critical inventions to the technological advancement of our society, such as AC power system. This story illustrates how Edison observed this law and Tesla became the transgression.
When Tesla met Edison in New York, the famous inventor hired him immediately. Tesla worked 18 hour days finding ways to improve the primitive Edison dynamos. Finally, Edison offered him $50,000 to redesign them completely — a monumental task that could last years without success. Tesla finally did it, as he went to Edison to break the good news and claim his $50,000. Edison told Tesla, “you don’t understand our American humor!”, offering him a small raise instead.
Tesla continued to grind away at his passion to improve these technologies and inventions. Tesla’s obsession was to create the AC system of electricity (what we use today). Edison believed in the DC system and not only refused to support Tesla’s research but later did all he could to sabotage him.
Tesla turned to the great Pittsburgh magnate George Westinghouse, who had started his own electricity company. Westinghouse completely funded Tesla’s research and offered him a royalty agreement on future profits.
After patents (exclusive rights given by a government body to an inventor or company who are selling a product — E.G. Apple patterning the iPhone design)were filed in his name, other scientists came forward to take credit for the invention claiming that they had laid the groundwork for him. Obviously it would be much harder to get away with such fraudulent behavior today, but remember this was about 100–150 years ago. As a result, Tesla’s name was lost in the chaos and the public came to associate the invention with Westinghouse himself.
The name Guglielmo Marconi is forever linked with the invention of the radio. But few know that in producing his invention to develop this radio signal Marconi made use of a patent Tesla had filed in 1897. Marconi’s invention was based on Tesla’s own breakthrough. Yet Tesla was not credited or paid for it.
Tesla invented the induction motor and the AC power system, he is the real “father of radio.” Yet none of these discoveries bear his name. As an old man, he lived in poverty. Only now do we reflect on his life as lessons on failure and success. He had passion, but he did not have the cunning wit and social intelligence to avoid being taken advantage of.
Tesla believed science had nothing to do with politics and wasn’t a superficial man who cared about the fame or the riches. Many may admire him for his nobility, but his lack of care and ignorance to how the game of power and politics was played caused him to be taken advantage of many times. Tesla had all these great ideas and inventions, yet everybody else was stealing his patents and taking the glory for themselves. Tesla wanted to do everything on his own, but he exhausted himself in the process.
“Edison was Tesla’s polar opposite. He wasn’t actually much of a scientific thinker or inventor; he once said that he had no need to be a mathematician because he could always hire one. That was Edison’s main method. He was really a businessman and publicist, spotting the trends and the opportunities that were out there, then hiring the best in the field to do the work for him. If he had to he would steal from his competitors. Yet his name is much better known than Tesla’s, and is associated with more inventions.”
Edison understood what his strengths and weaknesses were. Instead of grinding away inventing he would intelligently outsource his work to those far more intellectually brilliant than him. Tim Ferriss discusses this idea of outsourcing others to perform the mundane time consuming tasks in the effort to improve time efficiency and effectiveness in the 4 Hour Work Week. Regardless of any moral judgement’s we have of Edison, it worked for him and he played this game very well. The fact that Thomas Edion’s name is talked about in history classes all over the world is proof of this, because how many are talking about Tesla?
There are always vultures circling over head, always. The nature of the human race dictates that there will always be people trying to take advantage of you and your success. Ignore this reality and you will be taken advantage of and used just like Tesla. There are hundreds of stories within this book testament to this idea. Greene sais, “keep your creation quiet” to help avoid others taking advantage of youwhich links back to Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions & Law 4: Always Say Less Than Necessary.
“Second, learn to take advantage of other people’s work to further your own cause. Time is precious and life is short. If you try to do it all on your own, you run yourself ragged, waste energy, and burn yourself out. It is far better to conserve your forces, pounce on the work others have done, and find a way to make it your own.”
Let’s dissect this statement by Greene,
“Take advantage of other people’s work to further your own cause”:
This could be a potential moral dilemma for many, which obviously depends on your character. But in the game of power it is better to be aware than ignorant. I’m not advocating to manipulate and deceive like Edison, but at least understand there will be attempting to manipulate and deceive you.
“Time is precious and life is short. If you try to do it all on your own, you run yourself ragged”
Many of us will reach a point where we have to outsource our work in order to maintain production, consistency and standards. For example, I could easily pay a transcribing service a fee to transcribe my videos into written form for a fee. I don’t at the moment, but if I did I could save myself many hours a week. Whether you outsource globally or hire staff internally, getting other’s to do the work for you gives you flexibility and time to focus your energy on the most critical tasks.
The following is a short fable titled ‘The Tortoise, The Elephant and the Hippopotamus’ that I believe is a very relevant intriguing story to the idea of this law.
One day the tortoise met the elephant, who trumpeted, “Out of my way, you weakling — I might step on you!” The tortoise was not afraid and stayed where he was, so the elephant stepped on him, but could not crush him.
“Do not boast, Mr Elephant, I am as strong as you are!” said the tortoise, but the elephant just laughed. So the tortoise asked him to come to his hill the next morning.
The next day, before sunrise, the tortoise ran down the hill to the river, where he met the hippopotamus, who was just on his way back into the water after his nocturnal feeding.
“Mr Hippo! Shall we have a tug-of-war? I bet I’m as strong as you are!” said the tortoise.
The hippopotamus laughed at this ridiculous idea, but agreed. The tortoise produced a long rope and told the hippo to hold it in his mouth until the tortoise shouted, “Hey!” Then the tortoise ran back up the hill where he found the elephant, who was getting impatient.
He gave the elephant the other end of the rope and said, “When I say ‘Hey!’ pull, and you’ll see which of us is the strongest.
Then he ran halfway back down the hill, to a place where he couldn’t be seen, and shouted, “Hey!” The elephant and the hippopotamus pulled and pulled, but neither could budge the other — they were of equal strength. They both agreed that the tortoise was as strong as they were.
Never do what others can do for you. The tortoise let others do the work for him while he got the credit.
What an a eye opening fable that exemplifies this law perfectly. The fable is really a metaphor for life, because that trick can be played in so many different contexts.
Keys To Power
“The world of power has the dynamics of the jungle: There are those who live by hunting and killing, and there are also vast numbers of creatures (hyenas, vultures) who live off the hunting of others. These latter, less imaginative types are often incapable of doing the work that is essential for the creation of power.”
“They understand early on, though, that if they wait long enough, they can always find another animal to do the work for them. Do not be naive: At this very moment, while you are slaving away on some project, there are vultures circling above trying to figure out a way to survive and even thrive off your creativity. It is useless to complain about this, or to wear yourself ragged with bitterness, as Tesla did. Better to protect yourself and join the game. Once you have established a power base, become a vulture yourself, and save yourself a lot of time and energy.”
People do this every single day, people will take a video or article, copy it onto their site, re-post it, and find ways to monetize it to make money from it. In certain situations, it could be perceived as immoral or even illegal. Regardless this reality is being lived every single day.
I myself even do it. Except I try and make money of it.
My old website was based around this idea of curating the best content and media that has helped me grow into who I am today over the past 4–5 years in one seamless easy to access place.
About 90% of of the content I curate on my website is not mine. That’s the purpose of it. The point is — I am the vulture Greene talks about, taking from the best most valuable information applicable to me. However, I am not exercising this practice with the harshness and potential immorality of Edison. Credit is given where credit is due — and credit is given at the end of every single piece that I re-post on my site. Additionally, I make zero money off my website. In fact, I spend hundreds of dollars to keep it up and running without any self sustaining revenue coming back from it.
There was a painter named Peter Paul Rubens who found himself inundated with requests for paintings. To alleviate this, he created a system. He employed dozens of extremely talented painters, one specializing in robes, another in backgrounds, and so on. He created a vast production line in which a large number of canvases would be worked on at the same time.
When an important client would visit he would ask all his painters to leave for the day. Rubens would work at an incredible pace, with unbelievable energy. The client would leave in awe of this prodigious man, who could paint so many masterpieces in so short a time.
This is the essence of the law; learn to get other’s to do work work for you and take the credit as you appear of of ‘God like strength and power’. If you think it is important to do all the work for yourself, you won’t go as far as you potentially could. Time is finite for us. We are human beings that require sleep for about a third of our lives. So it is impossible to do it all ourselves. It is the reason we hire people. It is the reason Uber is so popular — we’re paying for time.
Shakespeare is renowned among many as the the most incredible poet and writer of all time in the English language. People look up at Shakespeare in awe as one of the greatest. We’re taught to study his writing’s in high school, and write essay’s on him. Little do most know Shakespeare himself borrowed plots, characterizations and even dialogue from Plutarch, among other writers. How many later writers have in their turn borrowed from — plagiarized — Shakespeare?
They say ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’. We are all standing on shoulders of the greatest orators, writer’s, entrepreneurs, athletes and artists of the present and the past. They’re failures can be our lessons. They’re success’ can be our the trodden path’s to journey through.
You can slog through life, making endless mistakes, wasting time and energy trying to do things from your own experience. Or you can use the armies of the past. As Bismarck once said…
“There are times when taking the credit for work that others have done is not the wise course: If your power is not firmly enough established, you will seem to be pushing people out of the limelight. To be a brilliant exploiter of talent your position must be unshakable, or you will be accused of deception.”
President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to the People’s Republic of China originally came to fruition through the deft diplomacy of Henry Kissinger. However, Kissinger let Nixon take the lion’s share of the credit knowing that the truth would come out later. He was cautious not to jeopardize his standing in the long term by hogging the short term limelight. Kissinger played the game expertly: He took credit for the work of those below him while graciously giving credit for his own labors to those above. That is the way to play the game. Take credit for those who work below you, and graciously give credit for the labors of those above you.
“Everything is judged by its appearance: what is unseen counts for nothing. Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, then, or buried in oblivion. Stand out. Be conspicuous, at all cost. Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious than the bland and timid masses.”
Part I: Surround Your Name With The Sensational And Scandalous
“Draw attention to yourself by creating an unforgettable, even controversial image. Court scandal. Do anything to make yourself seem larger than life and shine more brightly than those around you. Make no distinction between kinds of attention — notoriety of any sort will bring you power. Better to be slandered and attacked than ignored.”
Keys To Power
“Burning more brightly than those around you is a skill that no one is born with. You have to learn to attract attention, “as surely as the lodestone attracts iron. At the start of your career, you must attach your name and reputation to a quality, an image, that sets you apart from other people. This image can be something like a characteristic style of dress, or a personality quirk that amuses people and gets talked about. Once the image is established, you have an appearance, a place in the sky for your star.”
“It is a common mistake to imagine that this peculiar appearance of yours should not be controversial, that to be attacked is somehow bad. Nothing could be further from the truth. To avoid being a flash in the pan, and having your notoriety eclipsed by another, you must not discriminate between different types of attention; in the end, every kind will work in your favor.”
The court of the Louis the XIV was filled with many talented creatives, beautiful women and people of nobility.
But there was no one more talked about than the Duc de Lauzun. For comparison, this Duke represented the personality type many know as Tyrion Lanistor, of the HBO series Game Of Thrones. The Duke was dwarfish, he slept with the king’s mistress, openly insulted not only other courtiers, but the King himself — very similar to how Tyrion behaved.
Louis, however, was so beguiled (enchanted) by the duke’s eccentricities that he could not bare his absences from the court. It was so simple. The strangeness of the Duke’s character attracted attention. Once people were enthralled by him, they wanted him around, at any cost.
“Society craves larger-than-life figures, people who stand above the general mediocrity. Never be afraid, then, of the qualities that set you apart and draw attention to you. Court controversy, even scandal. It is better to be attacked, even slandered, than ignored.”
Thomas Edison would create dazzling experiments to display his discoveries within electricity and boast about future inventions that seemed amazingly breakthrough for the time.
He would talk loudly about all these future inventions which drew the public’s attention as Edison become a frequent topic of conversation. He did everything he could to make sure he received more attention than his rival Nikola Tesla, who arguably may have been more brilliant and talented than Edison, although far less known.
In 1915 it was rumored that Edison and Tesla would be joint recipients of the years Nobel prize in physics. However, the prize wasn’t given to either of them in the end. It was later discovered the committee had actually approached Edison on a joint Nobel prize, but he had turned them down refusing to share the prize with Tesla. By that time Edison’s fame was much more secure than Tesla’s, thus he thought it was smarter to refuse the honor than allow his rival the attention that would’ve come from sharing the prize.
The above quote illustrates half the celebrities that ever existed. In the time we live now it has become much easier to become a minor, or major “celebrity”. Understand, the majority of celebrities are forgotten from mainstream relevancy within a number of years as their five minutes of fame is extinguished and the public finally see the lack of true substance and value they hold. In the mean time, the people move on to the next shiny thing with their short attention spans, and the cycle continues. Understand the game of attention requires vigilance and creativity and those who make it through to ‘legend’ status possess a unique set of characteristics that is perfect for the time their living in.
Pablo Picasso never allowed himself to fade into the background. Once he knew his name was becoming too attached to a particular style, he deliberately upset the public with a new series of paintings that went against all expectations. Better to create something ugly and disturbing he believed, than let viewers grow too familiar with his work.
Great examples of this idea can be seen within the music industry. Kanye West is an accurate modern day example of this. His sixth solo studio album Yeezus was widely controversial due in part to the aggressive sonic experimentation, resulting in many hating it, and many loving it.
Yeezus sounded completely different to nearly anything made within music in the 21st century. Additionally, it sounded completely different from anything he had ever made. Regardless of what your think of his music, he courts attention through it every single time it is released. Notice many people who don’t even like Kanye West were, and still are, talking about him more often than artists they like. West has been intelligently courting attention with his polarizing unapologetic character and music for the last decade to drive millions of music sales and break dozens of records.
Understand: People feel superior to the person whose actions they can predict. If you show them who is in control by playing against their expectations, you both gain their respect and tighten your hold on their fleeting attention.
This idea intertwines with Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions. To reiterate, people feel superior to a person whose actions they can predict. If you conceal your intentions and you say less than necessary (law 4), then you become more mysterious and less predictable. You take back a control over your reputation and you court attention. Notice the fluency by which these laws interact with each other.
Part II: Create An Air Of Mystery
“In a world growing increasingly banal and familiar, what seems enigmatic instantly draws attention. Never make it too clear what you are doing or about to do. Do not show all your cards. An air of mystery heightens your presence; it also creates anticipation — everyone will be watching you to see what happens next. Use mystery to beguile, seduce, even frighten.”
Observance Of The Law
About 100 years ago in 1905, there was a rumor that spread throughout Paris of a young Oriental girl that danced in private homes. She was very exotic; she wrapped herself in vails, would dance seductively for people, and was from another country. A local journalist had seen her dancing and reported a woman from the far east had come to Europe, laden in perfume and jewels; to introduce some of the richness of oriental color and life into the satire society of European cities. Soon everyone knew the dances name: Mata Hari.
Mata Hari would only perform for very small select private audiences. She wore alluring cloths covered in jewels, she danced in a way that was a seductive and trance like. She told her audiences that her dances were based on stories on Indian mythology and Javanese folktales.
Everybody wanted to know more about her. She told journalists she was Dutch, but had grown up in Java. She boasted about her time spent in India learning sacred exotic dances. Few people had actually seen her dance, but everyone knew who she was.
As a result, people started conjuring up all types of exotic alluring images of her. They even compared her to the likes of an Indian goddess. Whatever they’re imagination wanted to see in this mysterious woman, it saw. She later performed for the first time in public. At this point she had become a kind of cult-like figure even spawning imitations. Soon enough, her dances spread beyond Paris as she was invited to Berlin, Vienna and Milan. Over the next few years she had performed all over Europe. She earned an income like no other for someone her age and gender. A sudden turn of event’s soon swept Mati Hari from underneath her: near the end of World War 1 she was arrested in France, tried, convicted, and executed as a German spy.
Only during the trial did the truth reveal itself. Mata Hari wasn’t from Java. She hadn’t grown up in the Orient, she did not have a drop of eastern blood in her. Her real name was Margaretha Zelle, and she came from Holland. That is all she was, but the question remains, how did she come about this sudden fame and wealth?
Margaretha learnt to dance while she was traveling with her family in Java, she studied and mimicked their behaviors. Margaretha wasn’t unlike many of thousands of beautiful girls who landed in Paris every year, but, she was ambitious and she wanted to create something unique for herself, so she did. What attracted the public’s attention and made her famous and wealthy was her mystery.
Margaretha’s mistake was going public with her performances, she took her lie too far and courted too much attention, to many thousands of people knew her name. She seemed to abuse her power and mystery and placed herself in vulnerable situations that eventually got her caught and executed. She wasn’t actually a spy, regardless that’s the story they conjured from her own fake story.
Keys To Power
“That is the power of the mysterious: It invites layers of interpretation, excites our imagination, seduces us into believing that it conceals something marvelous. The world has become so familiar and its inhabitants so predictable that what wraps itself in mystery will almost always draw the limelight to it and make us watch it.”
“Do not imagine that to create an air of mystery you have to be grand and awe-inspiring. Mystery that is woven into your day-to-day demeanor, and is subtle, has that much more power to fascinate and attract attention.”
Why do some appear to attract this ‘mysterious’ demeanor and others don’t?
By utilizing a more stoic serious poise your put yourself in a position to appear mysterious due to the lack of haphazard emotion displayed. Not only do you seem in control, but you appear like an enigma. The more your peers appear the opposite, the more unique you seem. It’s harder to guess someone’s intentions or next moves when they are not giving off many emotions. Human being’s are emotional creatures, and to appear the opposite of the norm, creates a kind of illusion of difference that causes curiosity.
“Remember: Most people are upfront, can be read like an open book, take little care to control their words or image, and are hopelessly predictable. By simply holding back, keeping silent, occasionally uttering ambiguous phrases, deliberately appearing inconsistent, and acting odd in the subtlest of ways, you will emanate an aura of mystery. The people around you will then magnify that aura by constantly trying to interpret you.”
However, there are many in certain social or professional positions that cannot execute this due to environmental parameters that prevent them from completely wrapping their actions in mystery.
The essence of this is being strategically random with your behavior. Being random with a purpose. Some may say, well doesn’t that mean it’s not random anymore? The purpose is to give the illusion of randomness under the pretense of strategy and awareness.
“In the beginning of your rise to the top, you must attract attention at all cost, but as you rise higher you must constantly adapt. An air of mystery works wonders for those who need to develop an aura of power and get themselves noticed, but it must seem measured and under control. Mata Hari went too far with her fabrications; although the accusation that she was a spy was false, at the time it was a reasonable presumption because all her lies made her seem suspicious and nefarious. Do not let your air of mystery be slowly transformed into a reputation for deceit. The mystery you create must seem a game, playful and nonthreatening. Recognize when it goes too far, and pull back.”
“The attention you attract must never offend or challenge the reputation of those above you — not, at any rate, if they are secure. You will seem not only paltry but desperate by comparison.”
“Never appear overly greedy for attention, then, for it signals insecurity, and insecurity drives power away. Understand that there are times when it is not in your interest to be the center of attention. When in the presence of a king or queen, for instance, or the equivalent thereof, bow and retreat to the shadows; never compete.”
The following series titled ‘Dear Alexander’ marks the beginning of a new collection of memoirs to my future self. These videos and they’re accompanying writings are created first and foremost, for myself. This is a very self-oriented endeavor, the purpose ISN’T to tell anyone how to live. Instead, it’s so I can have something tangible to reflect on over my lifetime. Through this reflection I’m able to remind myself of previous philosophies and beliefs I hold, or held. Over the years I’ve discovered most of our beliefs and philosophies are indoctrinated into us from a young age. Most people’s values are never questioned or challenged. So this is my way of questioning the things I believe and think to determine if they are still serving me, or whether I need to alter them. This will help me stay accountable to making sure everything I think and say aligns with my actions. Hopefully vicariously in the process it will cause other’s to question what they believe.
The society around you is going to show and tell you the faster you do something, the better you are. The media and culture you live in will always sell you the genius outlier whose accomplished 10x more whilst being half your age. They want to sell you on a hazy dream and a reality that is not your own. They’re not going to talk about patience.
This is why listening to society is a bad idea. If you listen to society then the world’s on fire, everyone’s going to be a millionaire, have a 6 pack, all with a side of champagne and superstar models.
Don’t fall for the illusion they want to sell you. Or rather, don’t get distracted by the illusion.
Stay the course.
One of your biggest flaw’s and biggest strengths, is your ‘patiently impatient’.
You want so much. You want to conquer the world — you want to conquer your world. But at the same time you understand how long this will take. You are hammering away at the world’s biggest stone day after day. You want all the diamond inside, but at the same time you don’t. You know the process, the game, the grind, is what you live for. You thirst for the spoils of rich’s from your expedition, but at the same you never want’s the expedition to end. You fight against this duality daily, like a caterpillar wanting to be a butterfly too soon.
If I could wish anything on you right now it would be to know how your 25, 30, 40, 50 year old self will feel like. I know you think 25, 30 and 40 is old as fuck right now, and that you expect yourself to have x and y accomplished by then. But life is so long, it’s just that we waste so much of it.
Understand: By the time you get to those ages, even older, you’re going to just be hitting your cadence, and be saying something like this to yourself,
“Reputation is the cornerstone of power: through reputation alone you can intimidate and win; once it slips however you are vulnerable and will be attacked on all sides. Make your reputation unassailable. Always be alert to potential attacks and thwart them before they happen. Meanwhile learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations. Then stand aside and let public opinion hang them.”
Observance Of The Law
The following story is from ‘China’s War of the Three Kingdoms’ (A.D. 207–265). During the war there was a great general named Chuko Liang.
Leading the huge forces of the Shu Kingdom Chuko dispatched his army while he rested in a small town with only a handful of soldiers. Suddenly he was told that a force of 150,000 troops under Sima Yi was approaching.
With only 100 men to defend him most would think Chuko Liang’s situation was to end in a hasty death. But Chuko wasn’t like most other leaders, he didn’t lament his fate nor waste time trying to figure out how he had been caught. Instead he ordered his troops to take down their flags, throw up the city gates and hide. Meanwhile Chuko took a seat on the most visible part of the city wall wearing a Taoist robe. He lit some incense, strummed his lute, and began to chant. Minutes later he could see the vast enemy army approaching — an endless phalanx of soldiers.
Pretending not to notice he continued to sing and play the lute. Soon the army stood at the town gates. At it’s head was Simi Yi, who instantly recognised the man on the wall. Even so, as his soldiers itched to enter the unguarded town through the open gates, Sima Yi hesitated, he held them back, and studied Liang on the wall and proceeded to order an immediate and speedy retreat… Why would Sima Yi order a retreat when he had such a sizable advantage?
Simi Yi had fought Chuko Liang dozens of times, so he knew him well. So when he arrived to find Chuko sitting at the head of his gate with no army behind him he was stunned. The man was obviously taunting him daring him to walk into a trap, that didn’t exist. The game was so obvious that for the one moment it crossed Yi’s mind that Liang actually was alone and desperate. But so great was his fear of Liang that he dared not risk finding out.
Chuko Liang was commonly known throughout Asia as ‘thesleeping dragon’.He was known for this by turning previous traitors into his own puppets for power and capturing cities by tricking his enemies. Chuko cultivated a reputation of being the cleverest man in China. One who always had a trick up his sleeve. This reputation was as powerful as any weapon, it struck fear into his enemy.
Such is the power of reputation. It can put a vast army on the defensive, even force them into retreat, without a single arrow being fired.
Keys To Power
“In the social realm, appearances are the barometer of almost all of our judgments, and you must never be misled into believing otherwise. One false slip, one awkward or sudden change in your appearance can prove disastrous. This is the reason for the supreme importance of making and maintaining a reputation that is of your own creation.”
This is why it’s critical to be aware and in control of how you are perceived. But how do we do this when we’re relying on other people’s minds and action’s which are largely out of our control? Or are they…it’s as simple as controlling appearances. We can control a large degree of how we appear, which in turn reflects a large degree of how others perceive us.
“Humans don’t have the mental capacity to question every single detail of every single thing presented to us on a daily basis. We accept a lot of things at face value. So when you present yourself to someone as a ‘super high confidence individual’, people have no choice but to perceive you as such. The more people who are perceiving you and treating you a certain way based on a perception which you provided for them, the more your actions and thoughts will morph to match the expectations of the people around you.” … “You have complete control over what the people around you expect from you, because their expectations can only be based on their perceptions. Their perceptions are controlled by the way that you present yourself.” ~ Dre Baldwin
I really like this idea because it shifts responsibility to the ‘self’ and doesn’t look to blame other’s for thing’s outside of their control. While I wouldn’t say “you have complete control over what the people around you expect from you” I would argue we have a large degree of influence over how other’s perceive us through the calculated control over how we display our character. Not forgetting that expectations and reputation can be morphed through personal bias’, subjectivities and the natural ‘filters’ we all have on the world. I see it as a combination of what we present in reality, and what a person already thinks and feels in the reality of their head — AKA their ‘context’.
Be conscious and strategic of how you appear to other people: You can control your appearance to indite certain emotions, thoughts and images to your advantage.
“A solid reputation increases your presence and exaggerates your strengths without you having to spend much energy. It can also create an aura around you that will instill respect, even fear. Your reputation inevitably precedes you, and if it inspires respect, a lot of your work is done for you before you arrive on the scene or utter a single word.”
It’s like the ‘lion in the room’ principle. If your at a party and Jay Z, Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos walk in the room, you know the second they walk in the room they’re there. No hesitation. You can feel the energy shift. These ultra successful people all have a reputation of being able to move in a room full of vultures. These are the lions in the room.
You see this a lot in social settings where we have what modern culture knows as the ‘alpha male’. This is the person who has the reputation of leading and commanding the room with great confidence. When that person leaves and when that person arrives, you know when they’re there and you know when they’re gone. Their reputation precedes them and the power they exude is felt in there presence or absence.
Perhaps you have already stained your reputation so that you are prevented from establishing a new one. In such cases it is wise to associate with
someone whose image counteracts your own, using their good name to whitewash and elevate yours.
By associating with those more successful who possess your desired self image you can naturally boost your own just by being in their presence.
“Reputation is a treasure to be carefully collected and horded. Once it is solid, do not let yourself get angry or defensive at the slanderous comments of your enemies — that reveals insecurity not confidence in your reputation. Take the high road instead and never appear desperate in your self defense.”
However on the other hand attacking another man’s reputation is weapon in of itself, particularly when you have less power than he does — so you have less to to lose. However this practice is a lot more delicate, it must be practiced with skill. It must not seem to engage in petty vengeance. If you do not break your enemies reputation cleverly you will inadvertently ruin your own.
There is no possible reversal. Reputation is critical; there are no exceptions to this law. Perhaps not caring what others think of you, you gain a reputation for insolence and arrogance, but that can be a valuable image in itself. Oscar Wilde said it best…
“Since we must live in a society and must depend on the opinion of others, there is nothing to be gained by neglecting your reputation. By not caring how you are perceived you let others decide this for you, be the master of your fate and also of your reputation.” — Oscar Wild
“When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinx-like. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.”
This is one of my favorite laws of all time. It’s well understood people love to talk about themselves and their lives. Let’s be honest here, they like to talk about a lot of bullshit. We all have fallen victim to this. This law exemplifies how and why this can be extremely harmful.
Transgression Of The Law
In 450 BC there was a great military leader by the name of Coriolanus. People looked up to Coriolanus as an awe inspiring hero. He decided to leverage his reputation to enter politics. He stood for election to the high rank of consul. When Coriolanus made his public address he used his dozens of scars he had accumulated over 17 years of fighting for Rome to prove his valor and patriotism to the people. His speeches were so inspiring it moved many to tears.
When polling day finally arrived Coriolanus made entry into the forum and he was escorted by the entire Senate and by the city’s patrician’s (some of the wealthiest people in Rome). The common people who saw this were disturbed by such a show of arrogance. Once Coriolanus spoke, his words were arrogant and insolent. He boasted his battlefield exploits, made sour jokes that only appealed to the patricians, voiced angry accusations at his opponents and speculated on the riches he would bring to Rome. Suddenly people realised this legendary soldier was also a common braggart.
Once Coriolanus slandered the common people with insults news of his speech spread quickly. The people turned out in great numbers to make sure he was not elected. Some weeks later a large shipment of grain arrived in Rome. The senate was ready to distribute this food to the people, for free, however just as they were preparing to vote on this question Coriolanus appeared on the scene and took the senate floor. He argued the distribution would have a harmful effect on the city. Several senators appeared won over and the vote on the distribution fell into doubt. Coriolanus did not stop there. He went on to condemn the concept of democracy itself. He advocated getting rid of the people’s representatives — the tribunes — and turning over the governing of the city to the patrician.
When word of his latest speech spread to the people, their anger knew no bounds. Riots broke out all over the city after Coriolanus refused to appear before the tribunes. The senate fearing the people’s wrath finally voted in favor of the grain distribution. The tribunes were appeased but still demanded that Coriolanus speak to them and apologise. If he repented and kept his opinions to himself, he would be allowed to return to the battlefield.
Coriolanus appeared one last time before the people. His speech started softly and slowly, as he went on he become more and more blunt. He hurled insults, yet again. The more he spoke the angrier the people became. Finally they shouted him down and silenced him. The tribunes conferred and condemned Coriolanus to death and ordered the court to take him to the top of Tarpeian rock and throw him over.
The patrician’s managed to intervene and the sentence was commuted to lifelong banishment. When the people found out that Rome’s greatest military would never return to the city they celebrated in the streets. No one had ever seen such a celebration, not even after the defeat of a foreign army.
So how does this link to power? How does this link to always saying less than necessary and concealing your intentions? Well, the more Coriolanus spoke the less powerful he appeared.
A person who shows he cannot control his own words and tongue shows that he cannot control himself, and is unworthy of respect.
That is exactly what happened in Rome. If Coriolanus had simply kept to himself he would have maintained that powerful aura. He would have maintained that reputation of being such a hero. Instead he yearned for even more power and control. Through the cloud of ego he could not see the possible repercussions of his actions.
“The human tongue is a beast few can master. It strains constantly to break out of its cage, and if it is not tamed, it will run wild and cause you grief power Power cannot accrue to those who squander their treasure of words.”
A beautiful quote to exemplify the majority of people in our society people.
People love to talk. They love to dominate conversations with superficial fantasies. If you sit back and listen to the contents of one’s verbiage you will come to understand how full of shit many of us can be. You may discover that most of what a person is saying is not real. “Not real” in the sense that what they’re saying is of little significance to moving forward. But who am I to judge what is significant for you? In any case, we lose a lot of time talking about things that don’t make a lot of difference.I encourage you to analyse the content of your own, (and other’s) speech and ask yourself, does this really matter?
People love to gossip and drama. It’ easy to shroud the mind in alluring fantasies and illusions. Whether it be a movie, TV show or simply basing your conversation’s off of a reality that isn’t your own. Modern media is a great example of this. Now, I’m not trying to condemn TV Show’s or movies as bad thing’s that we should avoid at all costs. No, I understand everyone need’s their escapism. What I am trying to demonstrate is that when those false realities take up the majority of your conversations than you have a problem.You are showing the world, and more importantly yourself — that you prefer living within the fantasy of someone else’s reality, over your own. This self destructive cycle retards growth.
Observance Of The Law
A representation of someone who abided by this was Louis XIV. In the court of Louis XIV, nobles and ministers spent days and nights debating issues of state, as we do similarly now. Two men were represented to approach Louis XIV on two different subject matters. After deliberating the minutia of what they should say and how they should say it they finally approached Louis XIV. Louis would sit in silence with the most enigmatic look on his face, he wouldn’t say anything as they would talk on length. All Louis responded with was, “I shall see.”
Louis XIV was a man of very few words. However Louis was not always this way. As a young man he was known for talking on length and delighting people with his eloquence. But Louis’s taciturnity was self imposed, it wasn’t real, it was an act, a mask he used to keep people off balance.
If people don’t know what you’re saying let alone thinking, they can never predict your next move.
As a king, this was extremely beneficial. Especially in a time where many spies were trying to uncover information to undermine a leader’s power.
Understand: People will use your words against you. Through exemplifying taciturnity you will increase your potential to gain power and control over your situations. People will have less to say about you, thus less to use against you.
“No one knew exactly where he stood or could predict his reactions. No one could try and deceive him by saying what they thought he wanted to hear because no one knew what he wanted to hear. As they talked on and on to silent Louis they revealed more about themselves, information he would later use against them to great effect”
Louis’s silence kept those around him terrified and under his thumb. It was one of the foundations of his power. As Saint-Simon wrote,
“No one knew as well as he how to sell his words, his smile, even his glances. Everything in him was valuable because he created differences and his majesty was enhanced by the sparseness of his words.”
Imagine if more of us applied that lesson to our lives. Imagine if we could be silent for one minute and let the other person talk? How much information could we learn? From a human behavior perspective, people are generally afraid to hear pauses in conversations. People associate pauses in conversation with “awkwardness”, it makes them uncomfortable. If you get easily uncomfortable and awkward then that’s going to be a issue. You’re probably going to be nervously talking to fill the silence as you reveal information.
I would encourage you to try this. Experiment with being quiet and letting a long pause in a conversation go on. Most are too afraid of that void, so they attempt to quickly fill it with nervous empty words. BUT, if you can sit back for 10 seconds and confidently pause, reflect and think as you watch the other person stammer for words than you may not only learn more, but become more comfortable with yourself.
Keys To Power
“Power is in many ways a game of appearances and when you say less than necessary, you inevitably appear greater and more powerful then you are. Your silence will make other people uncomfortable. Humans are machines of interpretation and explanation; they have to know what you are thinking. When you carefully control what you reveal, they cannot pierce your intentions or your meaning.
Your short answers and silences will put them on the defensive, and they will jump in nervously filling the silence with all kinds of comments that will reveal valuable information about them and their weaknesses.
They will leave a meeting with you feeling as if they had been robbed, and they will go home to ponder your every word. This extra attention to your brief comments will only add to your power. Saying less than necessary is not for kings and statesmen only. In most areas of life the less you say, the more profound and mysterious you appear.”
Coriolanus’s social blunder’s is a perfect example of this, Unfortunately (but fortunately) we don’t murder people or banish people from a city for ‘saying too much’. But if you were born a thousand years ago and you had a large degree of power you had to be very careful with what you said. Otherwise bare the risk of a fate alike to Coriolanus’s; being banished from a city and nearly dying.
In 1825 there was a Russian uprising and one of the leaders named Kondraty Ryleyev was to be executed. Ryleyev stood on the Gallows, noose around his neck. The trap door opened — but the rope broke, dashing him to the ground. Ryleyev was saved from execution. As he got to his feet he called out to the crowd and said, “You see in Russia they don’t know how to do anything properly, not even how to make a rope!.”
A messenger immediately went to the Winter Palace with news on the failed hanging. Ryleyev was to be pardoned because the rope breaking symbolised innocence to them. The Czar was about to sign his pardon but then asked,
“Did Ryleyev say anything after this miracle?”
The messenger replied,
“he said that in Russia they don’t even know how to make rope.”
“In that case,” said the Czar, “let us prove the contrary,”
and he tore up the pardon. The next day Ryleyev was hung again. This time the rope did not break.
Saying something foolish often will not get you killed, depending on where you are of course. But more often than not, if you live in a Western society, saying something foolish probably won’t get you killed. Nevertheless the repercussions can be still be dire.
“Be particularly careful with sarcasm: The momentary satisfaction you gain with your biting words will be outweighed by the price you pay.”
Sarcasm is not always the best utility to use in conversation. I am an example of someone who has used sarcasm too excessively in the past. I believe the best method of practice is to be conscious of the habit’s you execute in conversations, use them sparingly and intelligently depending on the context you find yourself within. Not everyone is going to interpret your witty sarcasm as playful humor, you may slowly create silent enemies in the process.
There are times when it is unwise to be silent. Silence can arouse suspicion and even insecurity, especially in your superiors; a vague or ambiguous comment can open you up to interpretations you had not bargained for. Silence and saying less than necessary must be practiced with caution, then, and in the right situations.
By talking more, and making yourself appear weaker and less intelligent than your mark, you can practice deception with greater ease.
All this means to me, is be strategically silent. Don’t be silent for no purpose, don’t do anything without a purpose.Know why you say the things you do. Practice silence with caution, to avoid suspicion…be strategic with your silence.
“Keep people off-balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions. If they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense. Guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelop them in enough smoke, and by the time they realize your intentions, it will be too late.”
Part 1: Use Decoyed Objects Of Desire And Red Herrings To Throw People Off The Scent
“If at any point in the deception you practice people have the slightest suspicion as to your intentions, all is lost. Do not give them the chance to sense what you are up to: Throw them off the scent by dragging red herrings across the path. Use false sincerity, send ambiguous signals, set up misleading objects of desire. Unable to distinguish the genuine from the false, they cannot pick out your real goal.”
Transgression Of The Law
This story centers around Ninon de Lenclos and Marquis de Sevigne. Ninon, at the time 60 years of age, was the most infamous French courtesan of the 17th century. She was an expert in love and relationships. Ninon was instructing Marquis, a young man having troubles seducing a countess. Marquis was handsome and young, but hopeless in the art romance and seduction. Not unlike many of today’s young men.
The first instruction Ninon commanded of him was to approach the countess with some distance — an air of nonchalance so the next time they were together he would only come off as a friend instead of a potential lover. This was done to ‘throw off her scent’ and cause her to question ‘oh, maybe he’s only interested a friendship’. The next step for Ninon was to instill jealousy in the young countess. At major events Marquis would show up with a group of beautiful women by his side to capture the countess’ attention. Not only would this instill jealousy, but he would come across as someone who was desired by others.
It’s such an amazing story because this transgression echoes throughout the entire history of man and woman. It still applies to this day.
“A woman who is interested in a man wants to see that other women are interested in him to.”
Not only does this give a person more value it makes it all the more satisfying to snatch him up from their clutches. It’s a natural instinct for people to want things that they can’t have. This was part of Ninon’s plan to instill jealousy.
The next step for Ninon was to instruct Marquis to fail to show up at events where the countess expected to see him. Furthermore, he would appear at places she did not expect to see him. By visiting places he had never frequented that he knew the countess was attending created an air of mystery. She was unable to predict his next move. This would push her into a state of emotional confusion that is a “prerequisite for successful seduction.”
Through Nina’s spies she heard the countess had been responding more formidably to Marquis’s quips. She would laugh a little harder, listen more closely to his stories and she was asking more questions about him. She had become intrigued and curious. It was only a matter of time now before she would fall under his spell. A few days later Marquis and the countess were at home by themselves. However this time Marquis decided to act on impulse instead of listening to Ninon’s previous instructions. He took the countess’ hand and told her he was in love with her. The countess was confused, which was a reaction he didn’t expect. She politely excused herself from the room and for the rest of the evening she avoided any contact with him.
The next few times he visited her, he was told she was not home. When they finally saw each other again the two felt too awkward and uncomfortable and the spell was broken. There has to be hundreds and thousands of stories of men and women with very similar failed tale’s of seduction.
“Ninon knew that men and women are very different but when it comes to seduction they feel the same: Deep down inside they often sense when they are being seduced but they give in because they enjoy the feeling of being led along. It is a pleasure to let go and to allow the other person to detour you into a strange country. Everything in seduction however depends on suggestion. You cannot announce your intentions or reveal them directly in words. Instead you must throw your targets off the scent, you have to scramble your signals — appear interested in another man or women (the decoy) then hint at being interested in the target, then feign indifference on and on. Such patterns not only confuse, they excite.”
Within today’s reality people usually call this simply ‘playing games’. But done right, it can instill great seduction and can assist in courting a man or a woman. The essence of this law is about exciting emotions and not knowing what’s going to come next. Imagine this from the her perspective; after a few of Marquis’ moves the countess would’ve sensed that he was playing some type of ‘game’. But this made her curious and excited. She didn’t know where she was going, but she was to intrigued to keep going along.
The emotions of jealousy and confusion can often be much better than boredom and insecurity in any relationship. “Better” in the way it is more exciting. But the moment Marquis uttered the word love, it changed everything. It was no longer game with moves of seduction, it had become a artless show of passion. And his intention was revealed which put everything he was doing in a new light. Suddenly a once charming and handsome man seemed ugly and conniving. Naturally, the countess felt embarrassed and used, and a door closed and a bridge burned that would never be rebuilt again.
Observance Of The Law
In 1850 there was a young deputy in the Prussian Parliament by the name of Otto von Bismarck. At this time in history Germany was divided in a war with Austria. Bismarck’s true intentions was that he was loyal and passionate supporter of Prussia’s power and might. He dreamed of German unification by going to war against Austria.
However when Bismark gave his speech to parliament he instead went to talk about the madness of War; condemning it, going against everything he supposedly stood for. Bismark was well known as an advocate for war, so this confused everybody. His new feelings subsequently had an effect on the voting within Parliament, largely as a result, the war was averted. The king who was an advocate for peace was grateful for this. Consequently he gave Bismark a promotion making him Cabinet Minister. A few later years he had become the Prussian Premier. Once Bismark had this power he used it to destroy Austria, creating the German state with Prussia at it’s head.
Bismark knew that the king and his conservative ministers wanted piece, but Bismark wanted power and he wanted war. Though to gain this he needed to bide his time and throw people off the scent through supporting a cause he deeply detested. Bismark has been cited through history as a master strategist and one of the cleverest statesmen who has ever lived. No one knew he’s real intentions. If Bismark had played this situation differently asking the king to be made minister in exchange for supporting peace, he would not have succeeded. The king would have distrusted his ambition, and doubted his sincerity seeing through his facade to get ahead. However by concealing his intention he attained the power that he desired. Such is the power of hiding your intentions.
Keys To Power
People love talking about themselves. It is easy and natural to always
want to talk about ones feelings for the future. It takes great effort to control your tongue and monitor what you reveal.
Many believe that by being honest and open you win people’s hearts and show your good nature. By being unabashedly open you make yourself so predictable and familiar that it is almost impossible to respect or fear you, and power will not accrue to a person who cannot inspire such emotions.
A human’s instinct is always to trust appearances, we can’t walk around doubting everything we see in reality. Greene notes…
“Simply dangle an object you seem to desire, a goal you seem to aim for in front of peoples eyes and they will take the appearance for reality. Once their eyes focus on the decoy they will fail to notice what you are really up to. In seduction, set up conflicting signals such as desire and indifference and not only will you throw them off the scent, you inflame their desire to possess you. A tactic that is often effective in setting up a red herring is to appear to support an idea or cause that is actually contrary to your own sentiments, as Bismark did.”
Robert notes that you do not have to hide your intentions by closing up (with the risk of appearing secretive and making people suspicious) but by talking endlessly about your desires and goals — just not your real ones. You appear friendly, open and trusting; you conceal your intentions; and you send your rivals on time consuming wild goose chases.
One thing Greene doesn’t touch on is how concealing your intentions makes your story and legacy all the more impressive. If people don’t expect what you’re going to do and you suddenly reveal your accomplishments it looks all the more astonishing to others. They weren’t expecting it and they were caught off guard by your greatness — you appear as if you didn’t even try.
Your reputation is all the more better because you become known as someone who is unpredictably successful. People don’t know what you’re going to do next and you can’t wait for whatever’s coming. It’s like an artist releasing a piece of music without any warning or promotion. They just drop it out of nowhere, they’ve concealed their intentions and they just let the world have their art without notice. Beyonce previously did this with her album titled ‘Beyonce’ and J Cole did it with ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’ and both were a huge success.
Would you rather be a person who talks about accomplishing things, or a person who actually accomplishes things?
Part 2: Use Smoke Screens To Disguise Your Actions
Deception is always the best strategy, but the best deceptions require a screen of smoke to distract peoples attention from your real purpose. The bland exterior — like the unreadable poker face — is often the perfect smoke screen, hiding your intentions behind the comfortable and familiar. If you lead the sucker down a familiar path he won’t catch on when you lead him into a trap
Observance Of The Law II
In the mid 1920’s warlords ruled Ethiopia. There was a young man of nobility named Halile Selassie (alos known as Raf Tafari). Selassie was out competing all the other warlords and was close to proclaiming himself as their leader. He had begun summoning the warlords one at a time to come to Addis Ababa, declare their loyalty, and recognize him as their one true leader.
Some hurried, some hesitated, but only one named, Dejazmach Balcha of Sidamo dared defy Selassie. Balcha considered this new leader unworthy and weak. But Selassie, in his gentle but stern manner commanded Balcha to come. For protection, Balcha would take his 10,000 men with him, perhaps a civil war would break out.
He stationed his forces 3 miles from the capital and waited for the king. Balcha wanted Selassie to come to him. Selassie sent missionaries to ask Balcha to attend a banquet in his honor. But Balcha was no fool, he knew previous kings had used banquet’s as a trap. So he agreed on one condition, if he could bring his personal bodyguard — 600 of his best soldiers, all armed and ready to fight.
Selassie responded with politeness and respect, he honored the guest. There was a large banquet, they were singing his name and offering him the best drinks they had to offer. Selassie treated Balcha as if he needed his approval, as if he needed him. Balcha was a stubborn man though, he refused to be charmed. He didn’t drink and passed on the same message to all his guards. Balcha had told his army if they didn’t return by nightfall his army had order’s to attack the capital.
Selassie didn’t want war. So he acted as if he was intimidated by this great warrior. Acting as if he was trying to give power to Balcha. Later that night Balcha and his army all walked back to camp. They were celebrating, they thought they had the upper hand. However when Balcha arrived at his camp he noticed something terribly wrong. All of the thousands of tens were gone. Only smoke and doused fires remained.
A witness told Balcha during the banquet a large army commanded by Selassie had stolen up on Balcha’s encampment. The army hadn’t come to fight. They surrounded Balcha’s army and purchased every weapon from them. Within a few hours Balcha’ entire army had been disarmed and scattered in all directions. At this point Balcha didn’t have a lot of choice. If he marched south the same army that had disarmed his soldiers blocked his way. The other way out was to march on the capital, but Salassie had a much larger army defending it.
Salassie had predicted Balcha’s moves and checkmated him. For the first time in his life Balcha surrendered, repented for his sins, pleaded loyalty to the emperor and entered the monastery.
Selassie played on Balcha’s wariness, his suspicion that the banquet was a trap — which in fact it was. Selassie’s actions made Balcha feel like he was in control — it created a thick smoke screen concealing the real action three miles away.
Remember: The paranoid and wary are often the easiest to deceive. Win their trust in one area and you have a smoke screen that blinds their view in another, letting you creep up and level them with a devastating blow. A helpful or apparently honest gesture, or one that implies the other person’s superiority — these are the perfect diversionary devices.
Keys To Power
If you believe that deceivers are colorful folk who mislead with elaborate lies and tall tales, you are greatly mistaken. The best deceivers utilize a bland and inconspicuous front that calls no attention to themselves. They know that extravagant words and gestures immediately raise suspicion.
The simplest form of a smoke screen is a facial expression, a smile, a frown or a stoic blank expression. Behind a bland unreadable exterior no one knows what you’re planning.
It was said that no one could read Franklin D Roosevelt’s face.
Henry Kissinger would bore his opponents around the negotiating table to tears with his monotonous voice, blank look and endless recitation of details. But as their eyes glazed over, he would suddenly hit them with a list of bold terms. Caught off guard they would he would regain their attention and instill intimidation.
One of the most effective smoke screen’s is the noble gesture. People want to believe, and usually do, that noble gesture’s are genuine. For the belief is pleasant. They rarely noticed how deceptive these gestures can be.
Have you ever heard of a skillful general who intends to surprise a fortress by announcing his plan to his enemy? Conceal your purpose and hide your progress. Do not disclose the extent of your designs until they cannot be opposed, until the combat so is over. Win the victory before you declare the war. In a word, imitate those war-like people whose designs are not known except by the ravaged country through which they have passed. (Ninon de Lenclos, 1623 — 1706)
No smoke screen, red herring, false sincerity, or any other diversionary
device will succeed in concealing your intentions if you already have an established reputation for deception. And as you get older and achieve success, it often becomes increasingly difficult to disguise your cunning. Everyone knows you practice deception; persist in playing naive and you run the risk of seeming the rankest hypocrite, which will severely limit your room to maneuver. In such cases it is better to own up to appear the honest rogue, or better the repentant rogue.
A colorful smoke screen should be used cautiously, then, and only when the occasion is right.
“Be wary of friends-they will betray you more quickly, for they are easily aroused to envy. They also become spoiled and tyrannical. But hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove. In fact, you have more to fear from friends than from enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them.”
Observance Of The Law
The following story is a recollection from the Han Dynasty AD.222. During this time of Chinese history when an emperor was put into power there was nearly always a plot to assassinate him only a year or two after the throne had been taken. This cycle would repeat for many years. Generals would rise time and time again only to quickly be killed of.
To be an emperor of China was to be surrounded by your very enemies who were plotting to kill you. In A.D. 959 General Chao K’uang-yin of became emperor.
To celebrate General Chao K’uang-yin becoming emperor he ordered a banquet and held a celebration inviting the most powerful commanders in the army. They were all drunk in celebration, which is usually the time the emperor would have sentenced all the men to death because of the paranoia of enemies plotting to kill him.
Instead, General Chao addressed these men and acknowledged the following:
“The whole day is spent in fear, and I am unhappy both at the table and in my bed. For which one of you does not dream of ascending the throne? I do not doubt your allegiance, but if by some chance your subordinates, seeking wealth and position, were to force the emperor’s yellow robe upon you in turn, how could you refuse it?”
Fearing for their lives they all proclaimed their innocence and their loyalty. They were effectively trying to earn his favor and suck up to him, they didn’t want to die. But instead of killing them, he simply bribed them. The General said…
“The best way to pass one’s days is in peaceful enjoyment of riches and honor. If you’re willing to give up your commands, I am ready to provide you with fine estates and beautiful dwelling’s where you may take your pelasure with singers and girls as your companions”.
Essentially bribing them instead of killing them. Instead of a life of anxiety and fear they chose security and wealth. The next day all the generals tendered their resignations and they retired accepting these gifts.
In one simple act a pack of ‘angry wolves’ was turned into a group of ‘docile lambs’.
Keys To Power
Bringing it back to our current reality…
“The problem is that you often don’t know your friends as well as you imagine. Friends often agree on things in order to avoid an argument. They cover up their unpleasant qualities so as to not offend each other. They laugh extra hard at each others jokes. Since honesty rarely strengthens friendship you may never know how a friend truly feels. Friends will say that they love your poetry, adore your music, envy your taste in cloths. Maybe they mean it, often they do not.”
Most people aren’t honest or comfortable enough to tell a friend the above truth’s. Sit back and observe the behaviour within any conversation and you will quickly find this law rings true in most.
This law can be applied to a lot of social contexts, for example, meeting somebody for the first time; we’re often either afraid or hesitant of revealing our true thoughts and feelings. On the topic of favors and friendship, Greene notes receiving a favor from someone can be of moral detriment to you.
“The receipt of a favor can become a oppressive. It means you’ve been chosen because you’ are friend, not necessarily because you are deserving. There’s almost a touch of condescension in the act of hiring friends that secretly afflicts them.”
Sometimes we accept favors or do favors for other’s out of pity for certain qualities. Sometimes we let our friendship with a another cause obligation to perform kind and generous acts. Understand: This has the potential to cause resentment within yourself. Especially if that person takes advantage of that friendship and takes more than their share offered.
“The problem with using or hiring friends is that it will inevitably limit your power. The friend is rarely the one who is most able to help you and in the end, skill and competence are far more important than friendly feelings.”
If you’re going to use a friend in any type of business or formal relationship you have to really step back and ask yourself whether this person has the skills and competence to help you. And vice versa, do you have those requisite skills to help your friend. Ensure you’re not blindly accepting them just because they’re you’re friend and it’s convenient. Using a trusted objective third-party may help determine whether the move your going to make is intelligent — usually they’ll see something you cannot see.
To switch gears back to the topic of “enemies”…
“Whenever you can bury the hatchet with an enemy make a point and put to put them in your service.”
Most people wouldn’t think to approach someone they did not like for their own personal power and gain. In the video version of this summary I commented on how your enemies may hold certain values that may be of use to you. While this may be true in theory, I am yet to either witness this or use this in a practical sense. But apparently Abraham Lincoln used it…
The connotation of the word “enemy” may lend many to believe they don’t have enemies. Here’s something to consider if you believe that: If you don’t know where your enemies are than you set yourself up to get attacked and manipulated without knowing.
“Never let the presence of enemies upset or distress you. You are far better off with a declared opponent or two than not knowing where your real enemies lie. The man of power welcome’s conflict using enemies to enhance his reputation as surefooted fighter who can be relied upon in times of uncertainty.”
In times when using your friends can be beneficial Greene talks about using a friend as a scapegoat to do your dirty work. It can be more beneficial to your reputation to have a friend take the fall and be the scapegoat. You essentially use their affection to your advantage.
That sounds quite manipulative and ‘dirty’ to me. Most people wouldn’t be comfortable with that. Regardless we must understand the world we live in of 7+ billion people. People are going to use this on you, so you might as well be aware of it to mitigate the chances of being taken advantage of. This become is not just about aggressive action, it’s about proactive prevention.
Additionally, in the race to get ahead and climb the mountain top you may need to mold and bend your morals at times. You are most likely going to need to do things others aren’t willing to do. Much of this book may not sit well with you which is completely fair. But understand it’s worked for countless people and it may be something to at least experiment with. To conclude, Greene reiterates the issue of working with friends again with how it can confuse boundaries and distance.
“If both parties come to an arrangement to understand the dangers and risks involved a friend can be of great effect. But always be on your toes, always been on a lookout for any signs of emotional disturbance such as envy or ingratitude, because that can be poisonous.”
Nothing is stable in the realm of power. Even the closest friends can be transformed into the worst of enemies