The Rule #10
Shyrwyn and I both have e-book readers that have been unused for pretty much since we came to Brazil back in 2020. A few days ago I decided to check if they would still be working after being so much time with the batteries completely discharged.
Luckily, both still worked just fine, and I could go back to reading once again. And amongst all the e-book I had available on my device, there was one I knew should be the first to be read once more: The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene.
This is a book whose reading is not the most pleasant experience. After all, is a book designed to crush naivety, to teach you how the world works, what people are truly up to, what to expect from others, what it takes to rise to power, and most important, how to avoid falling prey to those seeking to gain power.
Why would a good person want power?
There’s one stereotype that’s probably universal in all cultures and nations, old and new: those who seek power are generally evil, and the more you learn about historical figures who held great power, the more convinced you become that this is, in fact, true.
Or is it?
Power is about influencing others and shaping events. It’s not just about making people do what you want, but also about inspiring and helping others to reach common goals. It’s a force that can bring people together and help everyone grow.
However, when used wrongly, power can lead to unfairness and harm. People with bad intentions can use power to control and hurt others, spread lies, and ignore what’s best for everyone. This can create fear and distrust.
So the problem is not really that people want power. Everyone wants power. The problem is what people want power for.
Jesus Christ was powerful. Ghandi was powerful. Martin Luther King Jr. was powerful. They influenced others and shaped events for the better. Many others wished they could have done the same, but they never had the power to do so.
For better or for worse, we only hear about those who had the power to do things, good or bad. The powerless villain can’t harm, and the powerless hero can’t save. In fact, without power, you can’t even be called “villain” or “hero”.
What do I want power for?
I want one specific kind of power: freedom.
Freedom is the ability to make your own choices. It’s not just about saying “No” to others, but also about saying “Yes” to opportunities. Freedom means making informed decisions based on what’s available to you and aligns with your desires and abilities. It’s about growing as a person and choosing your own path.
Freedom is power, it’s not as hyped as the stereotypical “everyone do as I say” kind of power, but it’s still power, and that’s the kind of power I want for me and my family.
For it’s more valuable for me to be able to do what I want than it is to have others do what I say.
When the shoe fits…
When reading a book like The 48 Laws of Power, you inevitably will stumble upon one of more laws that seemed to be written specifically to you. You just read the law and, without even going further into the details, you know you’ve been screwing up big.
The first time I read book, the rule that made me go, “Damn, I gotta work on that!” was the Law 4:
Powerful people know how to impress others by saying less. The more you say, the more likely it is that you will end up saying something foolish. As people are constantly trying to work out what others appear to be thinking, silence makes them feel uncomfortable.The 48 Laws of Power, Chapter 4, Robert Greene
It’s no secret to me that I talk too much. I know it since I was a teenager, and have since then worked a lot on improving on that front. Since reading The 48 Laws of Power for the first I have started working even harder on that, and as of today, I can confidently say that I’ve never spoke less in my entire life, and I’m still talking way more that I should.
On my second time ready the book, however, the slap to my face was Law 10:
Emotional states can be as infectious as diseases. Occasionally, some unfortunate individuals bring their own misfortune upon themselves and can bring you down too if you get too close. Therefore, make sure to associate with the happy and the fortunate.48 Lays of Power, Chapter 10, Robert Greene
This was a slap to my face for two reasons. Not only I realized I spent too long giving attention to an “infected” person, but I also became infected myself and became to negatively influence those around me by complaining, and whining, and speaking out my negative emotions, instead of being positive, uplifting, pragmatic.
It pains me to think that I’ve been acting that way for so long. Worst of all is that, the more I improve, the clearer I see how much I have negatively impacted those around me with my own “infection.”
Now, there’s nothing I can do about what’s happened. So I’m living one day at a time, learning how to never complain about anything, ever. To only talk and act on what can get me closer to my objectives and goals. To speak less, and act more.
Misery loves company. Just not mine. Go find someone else.