The 48 Laws Of Power Cheat Sheet with Real Life Examples

Below is a cheat sheet (aka summary) of The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene.

This book sounds kinda weird and evil (and sometimes it is) but it’s a fun read that tells the story of some of the most powerful people in history. Lots of good info here and lots of awful advice, so be careful not to follow everything the book says.

48 Laws of Power Cheat Sheet

Law 1: Never outshine the master

  • Make those above you feel superior. Do not show your talents too much, it’ll make them insecure.
  • Make the master appear more brilliant than they are.

Law 2: Never put too much trust in friends, learn to use enemies

  • Friends will quickly betray you.
  • Hire former enemies, they’ll be loyal.

Law 3: Conceal your intentions

  • Keep people off-balance. They cannot prepare if they don’t know. Guide them down the wrong path.

Law 4: Always say less than necessary

  • When trying to impress, the more you say the more common you look and less in control.
  • Be vague.
  • Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less.

Law 5: So much depends on reputation – guard it with your life

  • Reputation is the cornerstone of power.
  • Reputation alone will make you win.
  • Destroy enemies by attacking their reputation. Then stand aside and let the public hang them.

Law 6: Court attention at all cost

  • Everything is judged by appearance, what is unseen counts for nothing.
  • Never get lost in a crowd.
  • Be mysterious, appear more colorful than the masses.

Law 7: Let others to do the work for you, but always take credit

  • Use the skills of others to do the work for you, never do yourself what others can do for you.
  • Your efficiency will appear god-like.

Law 8: Make other people come to you – use bait if necessary

  • When you force others to act, you’re in control.
  • Make opponents come to you.
  • Lure with gains, then attack.

Law 9: Win through your actions, never through argument

  • You never win through argument.
  • The resentment last long.
  • It’s more powerful to agree with actions.
  • Demonstrate, do not explain.

Law 10: Infection: Avoid the unhappy and the unlucky

  • You’ll die from other’s misery – emotional states are as infectious as diseases.
  • The unfortunate draw misfortune on themselves and will draw it on you.
  • Associate with the happy and fortunate.

Law 11: Learn to keep people dependent on you

  • To maintain independence you must be needed and wanted.
  • The more you’re relied on, the more freedom you have.
  • Make people depend on you for happiness.
  • Never teach them enough so they can do without you.

Law 12: Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim

  • One sincere move will cover over a dozen dishonest ones.
  • Honesty can bring down the guard of suspicious people.
  • Open their shield with honesty, then deceive.

Law 13: When asking for help, appeal to people’s self-interest, never to their mercy

  • Do not remind people of past deeds.
  • Find something that will benefit them and emphasize it out of proportion.

Law 14: Pose as a friend, work as a spy

  • Learn to probe and find valuable information.
  • Ask indirect questions.
  • Every occasion is a chance to spy.

Law 15: Crush your enemy totally

  • More is lost through stopping halfway.
  • Crush your enemy in body and spirit.

Law 16: Use absence to increase respect and honor

  • Too much circulation makes the price go down.
  • If you’re already established in a group, temporarily withdraw to make people talk.
  • Create value through scarcity.

Law 17: Keep others in suspended terror: cultivate an air of unpredictability

  • Being predictable gives control to others.
  • Behavior that isn’t consistent will wear people out, and they’ll stop trying to explain things.
  • When used to the extreme, you’ll intimidate and terrorize.

Law 18: Do not build fortresses to protect yourself – isolation is dangerous

  • Isolation cuts you off from valuable information.
  • Its better to mingle.
  • You are shielded from your enemy in a crowd.

Law 19: Know who you’re dealing with – do not offend the wrong person

  • Never assume everyone will react the same way.
  • Choose your victims carefully.
  • Never offend the wrong person.

Law 20: Do not commit to anyone

  • Fools rush to pick a side.
  • Do not commit to a cause but yourself
  • Maintain independence
  • Make people chase you and play people against one another

Law 21: Play a sucker to catch a sucker- seem dumber than your mark

  • Don’t be stupid, but make your mark appear smarter than you
  • Making them appear smarter hides your motives

Law 22: Use the surrender tactic: transformer weakness into power

  • When you’re weaker, never fight just for honor but surrender
  • Do not give them the satisfaction to win, surrender
  • Turn the other cheek to infuriate them

Law 23: Concentrate your forces

  • Intensity defeats extensity every time
  • Find a fat cow that’ll give you milk for a long time

Law 24: Play the perfect courtier

  • Master the art of indirection
  • Assert power gracefully

Law 25: Re-create yourself

  • Create an identity that commands attention and never bores
  • Be the master of your own image
  • Use large gestures and actions-your character will seem huge and you’ll gain power

Law 26: Keep your hands clean

  • Never appear soiled by mistakes
  • Use others as scapegoats to disguise your involvement

Law 27: Play on people’s need to believe to create a cultlike following

  • People want to believe in something
  • Become the focal point of this and offer them a cause, a new faith
  • Keep your words vague but full of promise
  • Emphasize enthusiasm over rationality
  • Give your new disciples rituals to perform and ask them to make sacrifices

Law 28: Enter action with boldness

  • If you’re unsure then don’t do it
  • Timidity is dangerous
  • Any mistakes your commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity
  • Everyone admires boldness, no one honors the timid

Law 29: Plan all the way to the end

  • The ending is everything
  • Take into account of scenario
  • If you plan, you won’t be overwhelmed
  • Guide fortune by thinking far ahead

Law 30: Make your accomplishments seem effortless

  • Conceal the clever tricks
  • Make your success seem natural
  • Do not reveal how hard you work
  • Teach no one your tricks

Law 31: Control the opinions: get others to play with the cards you deal

  • The best deceptions seem to give the other person a choice
  • Give options so no matter their choice, you win

Law 32: Play to people’s fantasies

  • The truth is unpleasant, avoid it
  • People that manufacture romance are like oases in the desert
  • There’s great power in tapping into people’s fantasies

Law 33: Discover each man’s thumbscrew

  • Find other’s weaknesses
  • Its usually insecurity, uncontrollable emotions, secret pressures

Law 34: Be royal in your own fashion: act like a king to be treated like one

  • The way you carry yourself determines how you’re treated
  • Appearing vulgar or common will make people disrespect you
  • Kings respect themselves and inspire the same in others
  • By acting confident you make yourself destined to wear a crown

Law 35: Master the art of timing

  • Never seem in a hurry, always seem patient
  • Sniff out the spirit of the times, find the trends that’ll give you power
  • Learn to stand back when not ready, and then strike

Law 36: Disdain things you cannot have: ignoring them if the best revenge

  • Acknowledging petty problems gives them existence
  • When you acknowledge an enemy you make them stronger
  • The more you a mistake visible, the worse it gets
  • If you want something but can’t have it, disdain it
  • The less interest you reveal, the more superior you seem

Law 37: Create compelling spectacles

  • Striking imagery and symbolic gestures create the auro of power and people respond
  • Stage spectacles for those around you and heighten your presence
  • Dazzle by appearance

Law 38: Think as you like but behave like others

  • By flaunting your unconventional ways people will only think you want attention
  • They’ll punish you for making them feel inferior
  • Blend in

Law 39: Stir up waters to catch fish

  • Anger and emotion is counterproductive
  • Stay calm and objective
  • Make enemies emotional while you stay calm
  • Rattle your enemies

Law 40: Despise the free lunch

  • What’s offered for free in dangerous
  • Pay your own way to avoid guilt and gratitude
  • No cutting corners with excellence
  • Be lavish with your money, keep it circulating
  • Generosity is a sign and magnet for power

Law 41: Avoid stepping into a great man’s shoes

  • What happens first always appears better and more original than what’s next
  • Following great people means you must double their power
  • Gain power by shining in your own way

Law 42: Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter

  • Trouble can be traced to a single individual
  • These people will influence others
  • Do not negotiate but banish them
  • Strike at the source of the trouble

Law 43: Work on the hearts and minds of others

  • Coercion will work against you
  • Seduce others into wanting to move in your direction
  • Seduce others by operating on their individual psychologies and weaknesses
  • Soften them by working their emotions and what they fear
  • Ignore the hearts and minds and they will grow to hate you

Law 44: Disarm and infuriate with the mirror effect

  • When you mirror exactly what your enemies do, they cannot figure out your strategy
  • The mirror effect mocks and humiliates them, making them overreact
  • Hold a mirror to their psyches and you’ll seduce them and they’ll think they share your values
  • Mirror their actions and they learn lessons

Law 45: Preach the need for change, but never reform too much at once

  • Everyone wants change but too much is traumatic
  • When new to power show you respect old ways
  • Make change feel like a gentle improvement on the past

Law 46: Never appear too perfect

  • Its dangerous to appear like you have no thoughts
  • Its ok to admit to small defects

Law 47: Do not go past the mark you aimed for; in victory know when to stop1

  • When going to far in victory, you make more enemies
  • Set a goal, achieve it, then stop

Law 48: Assume formlessness

  • By having a visible plan you open yourself to attack.1
  • Stay adaptable and on the move
  • Accept that nothing is certain and now law fixed
  • Everything changes and never bet on it