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Law 34: Be Royal in your own Fashion, Act like a king to be treated like one (The 48 Laws of Power)

Law 34: Be Royal in your own Fashion, Act like a king to be treated like one

Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus

Don’t be too humble. You will be treated the way you treat yourself. You will be thought of the way you think of yourself. Project confidence and a regal demeanor and others will respect you for it. If you act humbly, and only ask for just enough, and shuffle around quietly, you will be treated with little respect. This fits into other Laws Greene talks about such as “Play to People’s Fantasies.”

The idea is: people will try to make sense of whatever you present to them. If you act very confidently, they will see this as a sign of deep inner confidence, either that or you are a mad man. People rarely see through the masks others wear, and so, if you think it’s a good idea to demote your personal status to accommodate the feelings of others, know that it can often backfire.

Louis Phillipe’s life story serves as a cautionary tale. When it became his turn to become king, he assumed a very different attitude from his predecessors. He associated with the bankers and business people instead of the elites. He wore the same clothes, walked the same streets, and was interested in the same things as the bankers. He did this proudly. And perhaps, his aim was to make the people feel that they were equals – that the best politics of the day would be exemplified by a leader who could act as the man of the people, but none of this worked.

Louis Phillipe’s attitude only projected weakness and this attracted resentment and anger. One time, he was late for a meeting, and was publicly berated by Rothschild. Resentment was being built up in the minds of his people, and they finally took to the streets. Feeling under pressure, Louis Philippe fired his Prime Minister and replaced him with a liberal, but this only highlighted how weak he was. He was eventually forced to resign along with his staff. They shamefully packed their bags, like a travelling circus, and left.

The opposite of Louis Phillipe’s story is that of Christopher Columbus. Columbus did not have a royal background, but he acted like he did. His father was a humble businessman, but he told others that he came from a royal bloodline. He made bold and sometimes even outrageous claims, but in the company of royalty, he only made them feel comfortable. When he was about to embark on his voyage, he asked to be given grand titles, and inherit a certain percentage of the proceeds that would come out of the adventure, but while he wasn’t given all of his lofty demands, he wasn’t treated as a silly man either. He was seen as someone who knew his worth and carried himself well. He was respected.

Never lose your self-respect, nor be too familiar with yourself when you are alone. Let your integrity itself be your own standard of rectitude, and be more indebted to the severity of your own judgment of yourself than to all external precepts. Desist from unseemly conduct, rather out of respect for your own virtue than for the strictures of external authority. Come to hold yourself in awe, and you will have no need of Seneca’s imaginary titter.

– Baltasar Gracian

Unless you are Franklin Roosevelt, affecting the common-man touch doesn’t work. Powerful people try it all the time, but it rarely works. Their subjects can tell that they are not equal to their leader. Roosevelt convinced his people that he shared their values, but he never tried to act as if he was one of them. If you’re going to try to fake it, fake acting like a king – it might actually get you somewhere.

With all great deceivers there is a noteworthy occurrence to which they owe their power. In the actual act of deception they are overcome by belief in themselves: it is this which then speaks so miraculously and compellingly to those around them.

– Friedrich Nietzsche

Read The 48 Laws of Power

"A gilded No is more satisfactory than a dry yes" - Gracian

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