Today I finished Robert Greene’s book, The 48 Laws of Power. This week is the second time I have attempted to read all 478 pages. The first time, I made it about halfway through the book and then moved on to do something else.
In this blog post, I will not list all of Greene’s forty-eight laws of power and offer a critique. You can Google reviews. I will discuss two of the forty-eight laws and present you with an overarching principle that can enhance your ability to lead.
Some regard it as a pseudo holy scripture for understanding power and leadership.
The 48 Laws of Power is a New York Times Best Seller. Some regard it as a pseudo holy scripture for understanding power and leadership. Since its release in 1998, it has sold 1.2 million copies.
Greene’s forty-eight laws of power derive from examples in history. Throughout the book, he shares the stories of well-known leaders including Napolean Bonaparte, Haile Selassie, and Mao Zedong. Through Greene’s interpretation, these men and others have embodied a set of unspoken rules that guided their abilities to lead.
Such examples of the forty-eight laws include "crush your enemy totally and avoid the unhappy and unlucky." Greene suggests that if you desire to gain power, you must identify and eliminate your opposition by any means. Through historical accounts and stories, Greene also indicates the importance of surrounding yourself with optimistic people, because they can enhance your ability to lead.
On one page, Greene indicates that influential people keep themselves isolated.
As I explored each of the forty-eight laws, I found some contradictions. On one page, Greene indicates that influential people keep themselves isolated. Then later he discusses how isolation can lead to the demise of a powerful individual.
The structure of the chapters is consistent throughout the text. Each chapter begins with providing the story of an individual's climb to power and concludes with Greene’s interpretation of how the identified leader exemplifies a law of power. The book is well organized, but it has its challenges.
Many of the shared stories revolve around the experiences of men. I found the examples of women oversimplified. Greene depicted many of the notable female leaders as manipulative politicians who used their sexuality to seize power. He failed to discuss the intelligence and courage women of status have embodied throughout history.
Any position obtained through brutality or by portraying yourself as someone other than who you are is often short-lived.
After finishing Greene's book, I realized that each of the forty-eight laws supports one guiding principle. To earn power and recognition as a leader, you should remain authentic to yourself. Any position obtained through brutality or by portraying yourself as someone other than who you are is often short-lived.
If you want to earn sustainable power and recognition as a leader, show-up with confidence, humility, and the willingness to serve others in need. I believe this type of leadership also requires a commitment to social justice and a strong work ethic driven by dedication to life-long learning.
Use this weekend to cultivate your leadership skills. Read a book. Enroll in my self-paced online course or take advantage of my individualized coaching services. A significant part of your capacity to lead lies within yourself.