Notes Psychology

Law 1: Never Outshine the Master (The 48 Laws of Power)

Law 1: Never Outshine the Master


Many believe that flaunting your talents to your superiors is a good idea. But this is grave mistake. Masters and people who have ascended to positions of power, are not much different from the kings and queens of antiquity. They have fragile egos, and nothing could provoke their wrath more than making them feel inferior in intelligence or charm.

Galileo was a brilliant scientist, but he was poor. To make money, he invented ingenious things. Once, he created a compass and sent it to the Medicis, a ruling Italian family, but in return only received a gift. Galileo spent many years this way, barely able to sustain himself. His gifts were a form of begging, and yet proved to be futile. When he decided to change his strategy and instead resort to flattery, his fortunes changed.

If your superior is weak, then catering to his insecurity is wise. But don’t be in a rush to do so to those who are secure in power. Remember that people differ in their levels of insecurity. Further, do not resort to outright flattery. Being subtle is more effective. You can win the favor of your insecure master by committing a small, non-fatal error, and ask him to help you solve it. Such an action gives them the illusion of superiority and protects their fragile egos.

“A master who cannot bestow on you the gifts of his experience may direct rancour and ill will at you instead.”

Read The 48 Laws of Power

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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