📚 Book Notes: The 48 Laws of Power

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Here are my notes from The 48 Laws of Power:

  1. The problem is that you often do not 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 other’s 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 clothes — maybe they mean it, often they do not.
  2. A person who has something to prove will move mountains for you.
  3. Without enemies around us, we grow lazy. An enemy at our heels sharpens our wits, keeping us focused and alert. It is sometimes better, then, to use enemies as enemies rather than transforming them into friends or allies.
  4. One oft-told tale about Kissinger … involved a report that Winston Lord had worked on for days. After giving it to Kissinger, he got it back with the notation, “Is this the best you can do?” Lord rewrote and polished and finally resubmitted it; back it came with the same curt question. After redrafting it one more time — and once again getting the same question from Kissinger — Lord snapped, “Damn it, yes, it’s the best I can do.” To which Kissinger replied: “Fine, then I guess I’ll read it this time.
  5. 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.
  6. The key to picking a pocket is knowing which pocket contains the wallet. Experienced pickpockets often ply their trade in train stations and other places where there is a clearly marked sign reading BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS. Passersby seeing the sign invariably feel for their wallet to make sure it is still there. For the watching pickpockets, this is like shooting fish in a barrel. Pickpockets have even been known to place their own BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS signs to ensure their success.
  7. A heckler once interrupted Nikita Khrushchev in the middle of a speech in which he was denouncing the crimes of Stalin. “You were a colleague of Stalin’s,” the heckler yelled, “why didn’t you stop him then?” Khrushschev apparently could not see the heckler and barked out, “Who said that?” No hand went up. No one moved a muscle. After a few seconds of tense silence, Khrushchev finally said in a quiet voice, “Now you know why I didn’t stop him.” Instead of just arguing that anyone facing Stalin was afraid, knowing that the slightest sign of rebellion would mean certain death, he had made them feel what it was like to face Stalin — had made them feel the paranoia, the fear of speaking up, the terror of confronting the leader, in this case Khrushchev. The demonstration was visceral and no more argument was necessary.
  8. Never associate with those who share your defects — they will reinforce everything that holds you back. Only create associations with positive affinities. Make this a rule of life and you will benefit more than from all the therapy in the world.
  9. Absence diminishes minor passions and inflames great ones, as the wind douses a candle and fans a fire.
  10. It is up to you to set your own price. Ask for less and that is just what you will get. Ask for more, however, and you send a signal that you are worth a king’s ransom. Even those who turn you down respect you for your confidence, and that respect will eventually pay off in ways you cannot imagine.
  11. Everyone is caught up in a chain of events that long predates the present moment. Our anger often stems from problems in our childhood, from the problems of our parents which stem from their own childhood, on and on. Our anger also has roots in the many interactions with others, the accumulated disappointments and heartaches that we have suffered. An individual will often appear as the instigator of our anger but it is much more complicated, goes far beyond what that individual did to us. If a person explodes with anger at you (and it seems out of proportion to what you did to them), you must remind yourself that it is not exclusively directed at you — do not be so vain. The cause is much larger, goes way back in time, involves dozens of prior hurts, and is actually not worth the bother to understand. Instead of seeing it as a personal grudge, look at the emotional outburst as a disguised power move, an attempt to control or punish you cloaked in the form of hurt feelings and anger.
  12. A man who was famous as a tree climber was guiding someone in climbing a tall tree. He ordered the man to cut the top branches, and, during this time, when the man seemed to be in great danger, the expert said nothing. Only when the man was coming down and had reached the height of the eaves did the expert call out, “Be careful! Watch your step coming down!” I asked him, “Why did you say that? At that height he could jump the rest of the way if he chose.” “That’s the point,” said the expert. “As long as the man was up at a dizzy height and the branches were threatening to break, he himself was so afraid I said nothing. Mistakes are always made when people get to the easy places.” This man belonged to the lowest class, but his words were in perfect accord with the precepts of the sages. In football too, they say that after you have kicked out of a difficult place and you think the next one will be easier you are sure to miss the ball.

If you liked the above content, I’d definitely recommend reading the whole book. 💯

A little email digest to share what I’m reading, listening to, and find interesting. 💌

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Software Developer at Day | Aspiring Writer at Night

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Swapnil Agarwal

Swapnil Agarwal

Software Developer at Day | Aspiring Writer at Night

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