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Law 25: Re-create Yourself (The 48 Laws of Power)

Law 25: Re-create Yourself

George Sand
George Sand

Many people accept the default roles society imposes on them, but this is unwise. You should craft a new identity – either according to circumstance, or according to your own personal need. Certain situations will call for you to act differently, and you should be creative and flexible enough to do that. Further, if what you are doing does not satisfy your inner urges, then you should rebel and develop into the person you want to develop into.

A young woman named Aurore Dupin Dudevant wanted to be a writer. She left her husband and family and moved to Paris. She felt that marriage was worse than prison, that it didn’t allow her the freedom or the time to pursue her passion. But in 1831, women did not make money from writing. They could only be second-rate artists who wrote for other women as a hobby. In fact, when Dudevant showed her first piece of work to an editor she was told that she “should make babies, not literature.”

But Dudevant refused to settle into this identity. Instead, she acted like a man – wearing men’s clothing and spending her time doing what men did. She invented a pseudonym, “George Sand.” She eventually went on to inspire many with her novels. She even led student protests and dabbled in politics. Dudevant would not let anyone restrict her identity and was remembered long after she died for it.

“The world wants to assign you a role in life. And once you accept that role you are doomed. Your power is limited to the tiny amount allotted to the role you have selected or have been forced to assume. An actor, on the other hand, plays many roles. Enjoy that protean power, and if it is beyond you, at least forge a new identity, one of your own making, one that has had no boundaries assigned to it by an envious and resentful world.”

Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

Your character has been determined by a confluence of factors including birthplace, family, and friends. But this character is not necessarily who you are.

“The Promethean task of the powerful is to take control of the process, to stop allowing others that ability to limit and mold them. Remake yourself into a character of power. Working on yourself like clay should be one of your greatest and most pleasurable life tasks. It makes you in essence an artist—an artist creating yourself.”

Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

Roosevelt made a powerful speech in his inauguration. He made it clear that he was going to lead the country into a new direction, away from the timidity of his predecessors. From that moment, the speeches and decisions – including bold legislation and cabinet appointments – he made took on a blistering pace. This period after the inauguration became known as the “Hundred Days.”

Roosevelt’s power came from his unpredictability and use of dramatic contrast to his advantage. Like Roosevelt, you should know how and when to unfold your cards, never doing so all at once, but using timing and drama to your advantage.

Greene is saying that we are all actors – whether we like it or not. You don’t have the choice of assuming a role that doesn’t include acting, because even to be your “authentic self” requires a great deal of role playing. The only distinction that can be made that is relevant to you, is the quality of acting.

You can either be a good actor or a bad actor. This chapter has no reversal for this reason. Being overly dramatic makes you a bad actor and this will work against you, while good acting will help you get the most out of your authentic self, in addition to helping you get out of tough situations.

Read The 48 Laws of Power

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

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