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Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness (The 48 Laws of Power)

Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness

The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower

Don’t do anything halfheartedly. Being doubtful and hesitant will inevitably sabotage your project. Be audacious, everyone admires the bold, and no one cares for the timid. When you act timidly, those that are bolder will encircle you. And when you lack confidence, you will be unable to overcome obstacles in your path. Audacity will help you stand out from the herd, you will draw attention and respect from those around you.

In 1925, five successful dealers in the French scrap-metal business were invited to a highly confidential meeting in a luxurious hotel in Paris. They were meeting with the infamous swindler, Lustig. The business men were not aware why there invited to this meeting and grew curious. Lustig explained to them, after they had a few drinks that there was an urgent matter that required the utmost secrecy. He told them that the government was going to tear down the Eiffel Tower. Under the guise of a government director, Lustig told them that they were invited to make an offer for the Eiffel Tower. He gave them some fake information, and then took them to the famous landmark. There, he showed them his badge, and humored them with anecdotes as they roamed around the area. He then thanked them and told them he was expecting their offers within four days.

A few days later, the offers were submitted, and one man, Monsieur P was informed that his bid was the winner and that in order to complete the deal, he would have to arrive to the hotel within two days with a check worth 250,000 francs (the equivalent of $1,000,000 today).

Monsieur P was excited and arrived at the suite with the check in his possession. But while he was there he started to have doubts about the whole thing. He began to wonder whether this was a scam because of the discreet nature of the process. And when he heard Lustig explain the details of how the Tower was going to be scrapped, he came very close to pulling out of the deal. Suddenly, he noticed a shift of tone from Lustig, who explained to him his dire financial situation, complaining about his low salary and his wife’s desire for a fur coat. Monsieur P realized that Lustig was asking for a bribe and this relieved him.

The situation made more sense to him now. This high government official was asking the same thing other French bureaucrats did – he just wanted his palm greased. Soon after, Lustig was paid. And Monsieur P, thinking that he had gotten a great deal (according to what Lustig told him), left the hotel feeling great. But over the next few days, he received no call from the government and became suspicious again. He made a few calls and found out that there was no deputy director general Lustig and no plans existed to destroy the Eiffel Tower. He was conned. But he couldn’t go to the police because that would only ruin his reputation.

The Story of Huh Saeng

In a small cottage in Namsan Valley, there lived a poor couple, Mr. and Mrs. Huh Saeng. The husband spent seven years confined in a cold room, only reading books. One day his wife, in tears, said, “Look here, my good man! What is the use of all your book reading? I have spent my youth in washing and sewing for other people and yet I have no spare jacket or skirt to wear and I have had no food to eat during the past three days. I am hungry and cold. I can stand it no more!”

After hearing this, the middle-aged man closed his book, got up, and silently left the cottage. He walked to the city, where he stopped a passing gentleman and asked,“Hello, my friend! Who is the richest man in town?” “Poor countryman! Don’t you know Bvôn-ssi, the millionaire? His glittering tile-roofed house pierced by twelve gates is just over there.”

Huh Saeng went to the rich man’s house, and after entering, swung the guest door open and told the millionaire, “I need 10,000 yang for capital for my commercial business and I want you to lend me the money.” “Alright, sir. Where shall I send the money?” “To the Ansông Market in care of a commission merchant.” “Very well. sir. I will draw on Kim, who does the biggest commission business in the Ansông Market. You’ll get the money there.” “Good-bye. sir.”

When Huh Saeng left, the other guests in the room asked Bvôn-ssi why he gave this beggar-like person so much money.

The rich man replied triumphantly, “Even though he was in ragged clothes, he spoke clearly to the point without betraying shame or inferiority, unlike common people who want to borrow money for a bad debt. Such a man as he is either mad or self-confident in doing business. But judging from his dauntless eyes and booming voice he is an uncommon man with a superhuman brain, worthy of my trust. I know money and I know men. Money often makes a man small, but a man like him makes big money. I am only glad to have helped a big man do big business.” (Behind the Scenes of Royal Palaces in Korea)

But with those who have made an impression upon your heart, I have noticed that you are timid. This quality might affect a bourgeoise, but you must attack the heart of a woman of the world with other weapons…. I tell you on behalf of women: there is not one of us who does not prefer a little rough handling to too much consideration. Men lose through blundering more hearts than virtue saves. The more timidity a lover shows with us the more it concerns our pride to goad him on; the more respect he has for our resistance, the more respect we demand of him. We would willingly say to you men: “Ah, in pity’s name do not suppose us to be so very virtuous; you are forcing us to have too much of it….”

We are continually struggling to hide the fact that we have permitted ourselves to be loved. Put a woman in a position to say that she has yielded only to a species of violence, or to surprise: persuade her that you do not undervalue her, and I will answer for her heart….A little more boldness on your part would put you both at your ease. Do you remember what M. de la Rochefoucauld told you lately: “A reasonable man in love may act like a madman, but he should not and cannot act like an idiot.”

Life, Letters, and Epicurean Philosophy of Ninon De Lenclos

Few people are born bold, it is a skill you must cultivate. Boldness is not natural, but neither is timidity. Both are acquired habits. You become timid out of a desire to avoid conflict. And while you may have fears for being bold, the consequences of being timid are worse. You will be valued less by others, and will plague yourself with constant doubt, which will lead to failure. But you should time your boldness well. It is easy to abuse your boldness and see it backfire against you. Being timid is never helpful unless you are using timidity as a disguise to later exploit someone’s misconception about you and pouncing boldly later.

Read The 48 Laws of Power

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

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