Many a time we have looked at people in positions of power and wondered, how did they get there? To which goddess did they call upon to unlock the map to the labyrinth that is the journey to the top? It always seem so elusive doesn’t it, this ability to influence, to control? Well, it certainly does for me. And that’s why I was so excited for our March read, “The 48 Laws of Power”, by Robert Greene. I’ll admit, this wasn’t an easy book to read. What I would suggest though, is go through the whole list of laws, and read more detail on those that interest you first, until you get through most/all of them. It’s the kind of book you’ll always go back to every now and then, as different aspects of the book will apply to you at different stages in your life. So many buzz words come to mind when we all plan our journey to top positions; strategy, competency, timing, politics. Do I have a game plan, can I do it, when can I start planning to do it, do others think I can do it? I think this book gives great “guidelines” of what our strategies should entail, or what we should at least start thinking about. I would review all 48 laws, but to save both you and I time, go and read the book! For now, here are the 5 laws that resonated the most with me.
- Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies So one of the things Robert mentions is how we actually don’t know what our friend’s true characters are like, and I couldn’t agree more. People will show you a side of them that they want you to see. How many times have you heard people say “I never expected that from him/her” or “ I don’t even know who you are anymore”? Friends can be our greatest admirers, but that admiration can become infested by a lack of achievement on their end and turn into envy. And so a lot of the times, when we share plans and goals with friends, we’re actually giving them the blueprint to our path to power and success. Don’t be surprised if, by the time you get to the finish line, your friend has already crossed and taken the prize, because they found a better, alternative route, or led you the wrong way! Robert talks about engaging your enemies and turning them into allies. I don’t know about you, but I thought this was a hard pill to swallow. After all, they are an enemy for a reason!
- So much depends on reputation – guard it with your life What are you known for? Who do people see you as? Your reputation is what people use to frame a perception of what you’re capable of, and whether you can be taken seriously in the hot seat. Part of managing a reputation is having one! If you just sit quietly in your cubicle and clock your hours, no one is going to think anything of you. In fact, they won’t think of you at all! So create a name for yourself, and act in a way that you would like to represent your brand. If you always cry at the office or moan about personal things you’re failing to handle, no one is really going to believe that you’re going to be able to compose yourself in a boardroom or handle much larger problems in the business environment. Do I think you shouldn’t cry in the office? Of course you should if you need to, in the office toilet! I know many people think crying shows you’re human, but if you always have a box of tissue at your desk in the event of a breakdown, then don’t be surprised when people think the only form of pressure you can take is that from a sphygmomanometer. Work hard, meet deadlines and don’t let anyone walk all over you.
3. Make your accomplishments seem effortless So this is something I struggle with, and I’m sure many can relate. Whenever someone says “Hey, nice dress”, instead of just saying “Thank you”, we explain how old the dress is, or how we got it in a sale, or how we need to lose/gain more weight so we can look better in it. The same applies to work. If we do a great job, there is really no need to explain how you spent late nights researching and working on a project, or how you got advice, which was the only reason why you knew what you were doing! God forbid you mention YouTube! Own it, make it seem like it’s the standard that should be expected from you at any given time. Don’t over explain. And because you will always feel pressure to do as well as you did previously, excellence will become a norm with you, without breaking a sweat. Always remember that if you want to get to the top, you need to manage perceptions, or your reputation, and one way is to make your achievements seem like they are all in a day’s work for you. People will want to see how you carry out more difficult tasks, and boom, you’ve been given an opportunity to step up to a more challenging role. Do it, and do it well.
4. Be royal in your own fashion: act like a king to be treated like one You know how they say “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have”? Similar concept. If you want to be an executive, you need to start acting like one. I’m not saying go stepping on toes and openly challenging the person currently holding the role. This will just backfire! But do carry yourself like you’re at that level of management, or whichever level you aspire for. Network in those circles, attend those conferences/seminars. If people in senior management are used to seeing you around them, guess who’s going to come to mind when they are deciding whom to give the senior post. Just make sure you do everything else right. Put forward strategic ideas that show you understand the business, and soon you’ll be in a position to manage the strategy of the business.
5. Do not go past the mark you aimed for: learn when to stop I felt that this applied to when we have attained a certain level of power, but we’re not in the top position. It’s so easy to think you’ve made it, and to a degree, begin to abuse that power, or take for granted that we might have attained it through favor from others. This isn’t to say don’t aspire for more; ambition is a good thing. But continue to be strategic; don’t grow your list of enemies unnecessarily, and stay on top of your game!
An avid traveler on a quest to explore Africa but my day job is in financial data services. I enjoy photography and writing. Visit my travel blog on http://thingu.com/.
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene was our March Book Club read discussed in the April Meetup. There were quite some mixed feelings and thoughts on the book especially with it being a long read. The important part is that although not all laws are applicable, there is bound to be a law that you can relate to in both your personal and business life. Thanks Ashleigh for sharing the laws that stood out for you and for making this book relatable -Lerato