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Law 8: Make Other People Come to You (The 48 Laws of Power)

Law 8: Make Other People Come to You – Use Bait if Necessary

If you want to be in control, you have to make your opponent come to you. Lure your opponents with what they helplessly desire.

In 1814, the major European powers gathered to divide up the remains of Napoleon’s fallen empire. Napoleon had been sent to Elba, an island near the Italian coast. Napoleon’s bravery and creativity gave the Europeans reason to worry, even though he was on an island. The Austrians thought about killing him but didn’t because it was risky. Everyone was in a panic except for Talleryand, Napoleon’s former foreign minister. He was calm and nonchalant. It seemed he knew something others didn’t.

Napoleon lived with servants on the island, but he still felt humiliated. A strange series of events unfolded during that winter. British ships surrounded Elba and pointed their cannons towards every exit point. But one day, a ship with nine hundred men picked Napoleon up and went to sea in broad daylight. The English chased the chip but gave up quickly. This improbable escape shocked the European politicians, who began to worry about what Napoleon would do next.

Napoleon returned to France and marched on the streets of Paris with a small army. He wanted the throne back. Many people flocked to him, and his plan was going well. An army from Paris came to arrest hm, but the soldiers changed sides when they got close to their beloved former leader. Napoleon soon became emperor again. The Parisians were overjoyed.

Napoleon ruled for the next hundred days. But France was bankrupt, and Napoleon was helpless. He was finally defeated at the Battle of Waterloo later that summer. His enemies sent him to Saint Helena, an empty island off the African coast. He had no hope of escaping from there.

The facts about Napoleon’s escape from Eliba came to light a few years later. Visitors of his convinced him to leave the island, by telling him about the overwhelming support he had from the French people. He was assured that the English would allow him to escape. But the person pulling the strings was Talleyrand, his former minister. Talleyrand wanted to end Napoleon’s reign, he saw his ambition as dangerous. He protested when Napoleon was exiled to Elba, arguing that he should be sent further away if they wanted to avoid further wars. He was ignored.

When I have laid bait for deer, I don’t shoot at the first doe that comes to sniff, but wait until the whole herd has gathered round. Otto von Bismarck,

Talleyrand didn’t argue any further, he worked quietly, and through diplomacy, convinced the foreign ministers of Austria and England to join him. They helped him bait Napoleon off the island. Talleyrand knew Napoleon would lead the country into war, and it would last a few months since France was in bad condition.

One diplomat in Vienna, who understood that Talleyrand was behind it all, said, “He has set the house ablaze in order to save it from the plague.”

History has many examples of powerful leaders falling because they abuse their power, making too enemies. These enemies inevitably band together and defeat him. These leaders depend on aggression to achieve their goals, but they lose focus and clarity, and eventually their aggression is used against them.

Expert pickpockets look for places with signs reading “Beware of Pickpockets.” People passing by instantly check the pocket in which their wallet Is in unconsciously when they read the sign. The pickpockets see this as shooting fish in a barrel, since the challenge of stealing a wallet is knowing which pocket it is in. When you can anticipate your target’s actions, you are in control, and have more information.

Good warriors make others come to them, and do not go to others. This is the principle of emptiness and fullness of others and self. When you induce opponents to come to you, then their force is always empty; as long as you do not go to them, your force is always full. Attacking emptiness with fullness is like throwing stones on eggs.

Zhang Yu, eleventh-century commentator on The Art of War

Read The 48 Laws of Power

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

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