The rules of power

I stumbled across a book:

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

I found it as an audiobook at the library, but I think it would be best as a corner office bookshelf book. It’s the sort of thing you could pick up and open anywhere to read anecdotes supporting any of the 48 laws Greene outlines. It’s a fun read because of all the stories from history. Napoleon, P.T. Barnum, Kissinger, and animals in Chinese or African folk tales illustrate his laws.

There are a lot of laws and so far, some of them are contradictory.

But that’s how power works.

As he tells the stories of how people have used power, I realize power is very prepositional.

Power to…

Power for…

Power by…

Power in…

Power from…

Power against…

Power over…

Power is in motion, and power has an object.

Which makes it intrinsically unstable. It’s always in flux, and it does not sustain itself.

One of the folk tales, I don’t even know where it originates, is the story of the strong tree, which mocks the weak reed.

The tree stays fast, but the reed bends with every wind.


The strong storm comes. And the wind is too terrible for the mighty tree, which topples.

The reed remains.

The power of the reed?


And resilience is self-sustaining. Resiliency can be perfectly still. And it does not need any object.

It’s reflexive, keeping to its own.

To survive power, the powerful must remember themselves through it all. With humility and as much humor as possible.

Power is fleeting. But we will always have our selves.