As a start to this blog of mine, I'll be rolling out a series of weekly features and explorations into the pursuit of greatness. With best attempts at avoiding something too grandiose, the intent of this blog is to hopefully use my experiences so far to extract meaning from their success or failure in order to offer them up in a third party manner for use by the masses, or whoever may read this.
To start, I will make at least a weekly post about a work of art, be it a movie, book, painting, video game, or any multitude of things that I feel have impacted my course, slightly altering the pitch of the rudder in a positive manner. To kick things off, I'll be connecting the business classic "The 48 Laws of Power" to the modern day by extracting some simple takeaways from the read.
I had actually purchased this book years before but never made it past the first couple of laws it purports to be the keys to success. I'm hoping this time goes different. It's somewhat comical that it crossed my path again by chance at this very time. In the process of planning the next steps necessary in order to chase one of my many pursuits, it seemed to fall into my hands at the very instant that I was moved to dark levels of anger and depression in response to having been misled and taken advantage of. But this is no sap story. The Laws of Power takes on an almost cynical arrogance over mankind or at least over the nature that rules men of this earth.
Some takeaways from my experience regarding the first rule:
1. In new situations, tread lightly
Are you new to a social group or did you just move across the country? It is extremely helpful to read the situation factually as Greene purports. Asses the socioeconomic level of yourself and those who will be in your company in the most cutthroat and factual manner. I know this is not something that always feels good but for the betterment of the world, Greene seems to suggest there is nothing more helpful. If you can dial into various levels of achievement and success depending on a given situation, that chameleon quality can allow you to positively impact and work alongside any number of people. If you are outright and forthcoming in all of your pursuits, there's a chance you may be misunderstood or even resented. Kanye? Don't get me wrong - I'm still a fan, though.
2. In many highly competitive situations, it will help you to act dumb or make insignificant intentional errors.
No one fears the underdog or the man he knows nothing about. In our modern age, it appears that most would wear their SAT scores and a laminated copy of their resume around their neck if given the opportunity. Don't do this. In fact, do the opposite. Although I am not one to feign perfection in following any of Greene's laws, it seems like one could even draw the line of this first rule across social media. Is it worth it to post anything that is even remotely self serving? Or is it better to lay low and let the news stories or runway show recaps do the talking? Despite the ego boost of the first (which we've all felt), I'd say the later.
3. Don't throw big parties out of respect. Be the person who parties are thrown for.
In this first chapter of his work, Greene tells a few historical tales about rising stars who were perhaps too eager to ascend to the throne. The lesson extended upon our world suggests that we shouldn't make huge public efforts to win anyone's favor, especially someone who may be in a position of power above us. In my case, this is most definitely exercised in teaching assistants at the undergraduate level. Don't try to seem like the super smart student in class. They despise people smarter than them who don't have to put in the work. Go behind the scenes and put in the effort in office hours. No one except the TA needs to know ;)
4. Offer your services relentlessly until you reach that point. And probably even once you have.
Need to ace a paper or lock down an internship? Greene starts to allude to the fact that the key in securing anything is to appeal to another human's specific self interest. Offer up your work to the professor or the TA - learn what they want to hear and cater exclusively to their purposes in teaching the class by every answer and response you type. Learn the reasons why the recruiter you might be meeting with would have any interest in getting to know you.
5. Underplay, under promote, deliver
Although this may not be easy to do, when you downplay yourself you're actually helping your future self. Of course this does not apply in all situations, but it definitely does when you're meeting with a superior at work or chatting with a coach or business advisor. They want to be in a position of power. It won't hurt you in the least to give it to them. Don't lie by all means but allow them to do their job. Don't try hard during the talk. Try hard during the game!