Law 7: Let others do the work while you take the credit

48 Laws of Power

The lessons    Law 1    Law 2   Law 3   Law 4   Law 5   Law 6


Use your wisdom, knowledge while others use their effort. This will not alone save your time and energy, but also makes you efficient and speedy. At the end of it all, the credit goes to you while the others are ignored. Don’t do for yourself what others can do for you.

At a time, the hippopotamus dared the tortoise to a contest, and the elephant challenged the tortoise as well to a physical exercise. Everyone knows that the tortoise is not half as strong as any of these animals, however, he took the challenge with some joy. The tortoise fixed a date for the conquest and also the venue. The venue is set to a mountain bounded by valleys, whereby, each animal will hold on to a rope on each side of the mountain without seeing each other. On the day of the conquest, the tortoise got a rope, ensured the elephant was on one side of the mountain, and the hippopotamus on the other side without seeing each other.

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The tortoise then gave the elephant one end of the rope and told the elephant he will hold the other end of the rope on the other side of the mountain. On getting to the other side, he gave the hippopotamus the rope and said he will go and hold the end of the rope on the other side. He will then shout ‘pull’. After the tortoise ensured the both of them hold the ends of the rope, he went to a side where both of them could not see him and shouted ‘pull’. The elephant and the hippopotamus pulled the rope for several hours with no one conquering, and they agreed solitarily that the tortoise was as strong as the both of them. In essence, never do what others can do for you. The tortoise ensured others were doing the work while he gets the credit.

Even though this law looks vindictive and manipulative, it is a reality especially from the world powerful countries towards the struggling ones. It is also critically applicable to political leaders and top managers at work, where they say the ‘world is a dog eat dog world’. Everyone is trying to outsmart each other to get the best out of positions and wealth. 

Even though the world preaches morals, they still don’t care how things are done. People care more about the results than the methods. They prefer you to bring forward your results and explain the methods later if need be. Explaining your methods without results makes the world uninterested. What a hypocritical world.

Nikola Tesla was a great scientist, who doesn’t care about riches and wealth and believe there should be no connection between science and politics. This mentality ruined his scientific works. He was not associated with discoveries, and investors weren’t forthcoming. As he looked to the future, others were stealing his patents and taking glory for his works. While he always wanted to do the works for himself, he was getting exhausted and poorer.  

However, Edison was the opposite of Tesla. He is not versatile in scientific thinking and not more of an investor since he once said he is not interested in being a mathematician as he can hire one. Edison is more of a publicist and businessman, who looks at the latest trend and hires people to do it for him. He doesn’t mind stealing from competitors and he is linked to more inventions than Edison.

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So what are the lessons. First, the credit you get for an invention is very important and maybe more important than the invention itself. Therefore, ensure you secure the credit for yourself and do not allow others to steal it from you. Always ensure to be vigilant and ruthless, silent on your work until there are no more vultures ready to steal the kill. Secondly, time is precious and this life is short. 

If you try to put only your effort and want to do it on your own, then be ready to waste your energy, and burn yourself out. Rather, conserve your forces, your energy and take advantage. Thomas Edison says, ‘everybody steals in commerce and industry. I have stolen a lot myself, and I know how to steal.’ Therefore, don’t be surprised at the manipulative forces of companies, industries, nations. Everybody tries to use others to get what they want. Ensure you are not a victim.

The Truth

The world of power runs with the dynamics of the jungle. Some live by hunting and killing, and we have large numbers like the hyenas and vultures, who wait for the hard workers to kill while they live off the hunting of the others. This particular type doesn’t have the strength and is not innovative in acquiring power. This they understand, and they can wait as long as possible for other animals to do the work for them. Don’t be ignorant. While you are working so hard on some works, vultures are lurking around waiting to pounce on your innovation and creativity. You should start protecting yourself and your work.

If you tried to do all the work yourself, you will wear out. Rather, look for people with the skills and creativity you lack. Hire them in the name of your company and use their creativity to further your cause. Of course, that’s what powerful people and companies do. Once they sight a smaller company or setup and see it as a competitor, they either steal from them or frustrate them to shut down or buy them off and you won't hear about the company again.

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Current politicians in the world cannot even get a single vote if they depended on their speeches or wrote them themselves. They, therefore, employ the best of speechwriters. If a politician is eloquent or gives a good speech, of course, the secret is far away from the public. Politicians have learned to use other people’s strengths to acquire more power. Bismarck says, ‘Fools say they learn by experience, while I prefer to profit from other people’s experience’.

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Finally, the vulture of all the animals in the jungle always has it easiest. The hard work of the others becomes his; their failure to survive becomes his nourishment. Always keep your eye on the vulture. When you are working, the vulture is circling above. Don’t fight him, rather join him. According to Baltasar, ‘There is much to be known, and life is short. Life is not life without knowledge’.  

Therefore, always plan to acquire knowledge from everybody. By the sweat of another’s brow, you win the reputation of being an oracle. However, always ensure you are not greedy especially when there is a master above you. Kissinger has perfected the playing of this game. He takes credit for those working under him and gives credit to those above him.

The lessons    Law 1    Law 2   Law 3   Law 4   Law 5   Law 6

credit: Robert Greene

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