Law 1: Never Outshine the Master

48 Laws of Power

The Lesson   Law 1    Law 2   Law 3

The judgment goes thus:

Always give room for those ahead or above you to feel comfortably superior. While you love to please and impress them, don’t go too far in showing your talents before you find yourself doing the opposite, that is, showing fear and insecurity. Always try to make your masters appear more brilliant than they are, and before you know it, you will go up to the heights of power’ .

All is fair in Love and War, so they say; but wisdom is applicable to direct. It’s not all wars we fight. Sometimes, we live to fight another day. Never should you learn to be first all the time. Try not to overshadow the ones ahead of you all the time. There is a time very important to learn, and you must patiently learn. Voltaire says, ‘Why the evening began, Fouquet was at the top of the world. By the time it had ended, he was at the bottom’; now that’s life.

Top article: 48 Laws of Power: The Lesson

The first rule of power is never to outshine your master. You might have gotten an opportunity to serve under a boss in a company, institution or in government. Never at anytime see yourself equal to your boss if you want to get to his position. Firstly, they are there to teach you, guide you, and you must take your time to learn from them. If you were better than them, you will be their boss. Even though you might be better than them, please wait for your time.

What if I am better than my boss?

Well, you might have something better to offer than your boss, however, when you show yourself too much, when you display your talents too much, you will naturally raise attention, resentments, envy, jealousy and insecurity towards yourself. In the game of power, outshining the master is almost the most dangerous. 

At first when you start making difficult things seem easy, you start working so hard and fast, even making ways where there is no way in the process, your boss may like it at first, however, he may get threatened. He may think you are eyeing his position. He may think you want the top bosses to see you and replace him. In order to protect himself and his position, he pushes you out and find someone less intelligent to replace you so you don’t take over his job.

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Another great point to admire is that don’t misjudge the love of your boss as an avenue to behave anyhow. You may be praised by your boss today, and thrown under the bus tomorrow. While your boss may prefer you in some works to be done, don’t think he has given you authority to take decisions on his behalf. Once he discovers you are passing your boundary, the love for you becomes hatred.

Also, do not take your position for granted and don’t let the favors you get at work place enter into your head; some favors are traps. Don’t mistake traps for favors. There are intentions behind favors and ensure the intentions are right. Always be careful of people that show you too much love. Poisons are found in sweetest foods.

Sometimes, you may have the condition whereby you are smarter and more intelligent than your boss, you may try to give him the benefits of working with a smarter worker. You can try to be na├»ve, seek his opinion, even when you know the solution, ask for his input. When you sometimes ask your master for opinions, they feel like the true boss they are, don’t let them feel otherwise.  

When you speak in public with smart words, people will try to praise you, they will try to create an enmity between you and your boss. This is the best time to be up for your boss. Let them know you did nothing without the support of your boss. Ascribe the breakthrough to your boss. This gives you an avenue to break more frontiers.

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‘For the Stars in the Sky’

There can only be one sun at a time. Don’t try to block the sunlight, and don’t try to rival the sun’s brilliance, rather, try to help the sun shine brighter. This is a big lesson we learn from the stars in the sky. Even though the stars have a relationship with the sun and they may be brilliant, but they never compete with the sun,  because it is suicidal.

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What if you want your boss’s position?

Well, it’s not a bad thing to want a good or higher position. However, time and patience will get it for you. Take your time and you will get it. Your boss will leave the position one day, and he may be asked to recommend who will take his position. If you were competing with him, he wouldn’t consider you.

The Lesson   Law 1  Law 2   Law 3

Credit: Robert Greene

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