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The 48 Laws of Power
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A short take on 'Law 24: Play the Perfect Courtier'
Published 09/24/15 by illacertus [0 Comments]

illacertus here, I obsessively study Robert Greene and his works,
currently animating ‘The 48 Laws of Power’ summaries (youtube.com/c/illacertus).
Let's talk about the core chapter ‘Law 24: Play the Perfect Courtier’ in other words “Handle others perfectly."

When you look at the times of Niccolo Machiavelli and compare the basic works of power to today, it’s astonishing how little has changed in terms of the authority & subordinate relationship. Here's an excerpt from a 500 years old book;

“The aim of the perfect courtier is so to win for himself the favor and mind of the prince whom he serves that he may be able to tell him, and always will tell him, the truth about everything he needs to know, without fear or risk of displeasing him; and that when he sees the mind of his prince inclined to a wrong action, he may dare to oppose him and in a gentle manner avail himself of the favor acquired by his good accomplishments, so as to dissuade him of every evil intent and bring him to the path of virtue." –Baldassare Castiglione (The Book of the Courtier, 1516)

Greene’s next book “The Laws of Human Nature” will go deep with why history is repeating itself over and over again, where our human behavior comes from and why it’s still much the same (to add to that; Friedrich Nietzsche will be a great star in the book).

To my luck I made my major mistakes in courtier ship with teachers who didn’t have as much power over me as my authorities today. Disregarding the master and pupil relationship I’d argue about everything, ask questions that made the teacher insecure and defensive, I’d be arrogant and feeling to have to play a certain dominant role in the classroom. I would probably not be enjoying such a good status in the office now, if I hadn’t made the majority of my teachers dislike me. 500 years ago I would’ve been beheaded in the court no doubt.

But, that's the thing. The majority of people aren't aware of what's going on and start their careers good-spirited and naive as fuck. They make all kinds of mistakes, break law after law and find themselves fired for reasons they can't make any sense of. Some of it is common sense, but a lot of it is in the shadows; eg. eye and body movement, micro-expressions in the face, unusual hand gestures, a slight change of tone etc. and if you haven't instinctively learnt this through observation of your surroundings growing up, you're even more screwed. You absolutely have to be able to read people.

It should go without saying that being a skilled courtier, someone who knows how to further their own agenda while not offending the wrong people, but pleasing the right people, is an essential attribute everyone interested in power (or a roof over their head) should spend time attaining, because it is those who manage to assert themselves as, by Castiglione's definition, a great courtier who end up popular and promoted, not the hardest-working, first in, last out the office employee. And to the contrary of subjects on accumulating power there are quite a lot of books on learning the art of courtiership.

In my opinion it mostly comes down to handling people, influencing them to your advantage, being aware of your surroundings, playing the field strategically and avoiding any pitfalls and other threats. So books on persuasion and strategic thinking are indeed a good source to improve at applying this law. To not list the mandatory Dale Carnegie, Machiavelli, Sun Tzu or any of Greene's books, I shall recommend ‘Secrets to Winning at Office Politics’ by Marie McIntyre (I’ve got a Part II up on Greene’s “15 Laws of Court Politics”), ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman and ‘Predictably Irrational’ by Dan Ariely. I reread these on a yearly basis.

To dive into the DEFINITION, OBSERVATIONS and THEORY of the law, I recommend watching my animated summary HERE
(because that makes me millions of dollars per view).


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About The 48 Laws of Power
Animated book summaries focusing on strategic thinking, how it was applied in history & how you can use this knowledge today to further your own cause. (www.youtube.com/Illacertus?sub_confirmation=1)

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