Law 11: Learn to Keep People Dependent on You

48 Laws of Power

The lessons  Law 1  Law 2  Law 3  Law 4  Law 5  Law 6  Law 7  Law 8  Law 9  Law 10


To sustain your independence, people must always need and want you. The more people rely on you, the more freedom you have. When people depend on you for their happiness and prosperity, then you have nothing to fear. Don’t teach people enough, so they can’t do without you.

The Two Horses

Two horses were carrying loads. The front horse was working well, however, the horse at the back was lazy. The owners then decided to pile the load on the back horse on the front horse. After transferring all the load, the rear horse enjoyed the ride and it was easy for him. He then told the front horse, keep toiling and sweating, the more hardworking you are, the more you suffer. At one point, the owner thought, ‘why does he have to feed two horses while only one is working; I’d better give all the food to the one working, and kill the lazy one, to save food expenses’. This ended the life of the lazy horse.

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Such things befall the lazy ones, the ones that do not make others depend on them. With time, someone who can do the job as you will come; someone who is fresher, younger, less threatening, less expensive, and he is more appreciated than you. Ensure you are the only one who can do what you do, ensure the success of others is entwined with yours, then they won't be able to do without you. Else, you will soon be out job and favour.

When you want to join forces, be wise, ensure you don’t join those that are already powerful because they will swallow you. No one will depend on you if they are strong already. When you have ambitions, seek weak rulers, or masters that can depend on you. You can become their strength, intelligence, and spine. If you are powerful in their cabinet, they can't do away without you easily, and if they try to, the empire collapses.

The difference between the Rich Man and the Poor Man

Necessity rules the world, and people may not react if they are not forced to. If you don’t create a need for yourself, then you will be easily displaced. If you instead make others depend on you, then you can survive your masters. According to Niccolò Machiavelli, ‘a wise prince will think of ways his citizens under every circumstance will depend on the state and him; this makes them trustworthy’. This has been the tricks of politicians in keeping people to vote for them even when they are useless. 

Politicians keep people in penury, they ensure people don’t have all that they need, so that during the election, they try to satisfy the immediate needs of the people, especially in terms of food. And before you know it, the people vote them in again, forgetting the days of suffering and only remembering the short days of feeding by politicians.

The ultimate power you can have is the power to make people do what you want. If you can do this without forcing people or hurting them, then they will easily grant your desires and your power becomes untouchable. For those you are working for, make yourself important such that you are deeply into them, and doing without you becomes so difficult for them. Even if they let you go, they should find it hard or lose valuable time to train someone else to replace you. Once you can establish such a relationship, then you can make the master do as you want.

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Do not at anytime think power means being independent. Power involves a relation between people. Whether you like it or not, you need people as allies, pawns, or weak masters who can stand for you. The independent man would rather be isolated, live alone, can come and go, has freedom but lacks powers. The best thing is to make others depend on you.

So how does it work or how do you get others to depend on you?

When you successfully make others depend on you, letting you go becomes difficult. One of the ways you can make this work is to have a talent or possess a skill that cannot be replaced. You may not necessarily have the talent of Michelangelo, however, try and have a skill that separates you from the crowd. Create an environment whereby you can easily change your master, but your master cannot easily change you. 

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And if truly you can be dispensable or be easily replaced, you make it look like you are indispensable. When you create an appearance of specialized knowledge and skill, it makes your masters think they can't do without you. However, always update your skills to drive you to the indispensable stage.

Another way you can make others dependent on you is the secret intelligence tactic. When you know other people’s secrets, the things they want to keep out of the public, then they are at your mercy. You become untouchable to them. The heads of the secret police of nations have always held this position, and that is why presidents ensure it’s only the people they trust that fill such positions. These people can make or break a king, governor, or president.


Never think that your master’s dependence on you will make him love you. In fact, he could resent and fear you for this. However, Machiavelli said, it is better to be feared than to be loved. You can control fear, but you can’t control love. You should make others depend on you because of the consequences of losing you, rather than the love they have for you.

The lessons  Law 1  Law 2  Law 3  Law 4  Law 5  Law 6  Law 7  Law 8  Law 9  Law 10

credit: Robert Greene

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