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Moral Critique of Law #7: The 48 Laws of Power

Updated on January 24, 2014

I read the The 48 Laws of Power out of a curiosity and a hunger for something greater for myself. What I found was a book that could be seen as ruthless and manipulative in it's principles. I have decided to write a series of critiques of each of the laws. I will discuss the good and the bad of the law as well as a key that I've found to upholding the law without losing your morality.

Now, I will discuss Law #7.

Law #7. Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit.

"Use the wisdom, knowledge, and legwork of other people to further your own cause. Not only will such assistance save you valuable time and energy, it will give you a godlike aura of efficiency and speed. In the end your helpers will be forgotten and you will be remembered. Never do yourself what others can do for you."

-Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

The Good

This law sounds a lot like delegation. Every person who has had any amount of power would find it useful to delegate their duties to others. It is just more efficient. People in power always have a lot that they need to accomplish in order to maintain that power and use that power effectively. Often times, these duties of the powerful are beyond the capabilities of one person. If you are not willing to let go of some of those duties and request the assistance of those around you, you risk feeling overwhelmed, not getting things done and being viewed as incompetent.

Having other people do physical work for you is not the only way to delegate labor. There is a good deal to be said for "standing on the shoulders of giants". There is a common saying that "success leaves clues". This refers to the miriad of books written on how many of the great people of the past acquired the success they obtained. With these resources at your disposal, failure should not be an option. One could read a book on how to cook a rice recipe, go home and cook it and have everyone marvelling at your cooking skills. There are lots one could learn from reading instructional books as well as watching instructional video. If you want to become a good dancer there are many dance tutorials on youtube.

So, essentially, people are your greatest resource. "No man is an island onto himself." We are all constantly depending on each other for our success.

The Bad

When reading this law, one immediately gets the sense that it is morally corrupt, and it is. Sure, we all need each other, but taking advantage of one another would not be ethical. This law could make people think it is OK to steal the credit of other people's work. Often times there are penalties for plagarizing or copyright enfringement, because these things are frowned upon in our society. You run the risk of jail time, fines and/or losing the respect of your peers.

Someone in a less litigious society may read this law and decide that the more corrupt means of sharing responsibility are healthy, but they are not. Nor are they helpful to you or to those you serve. Pretending that you are the one who completed work that was not yours could leave you embarrassed, especially when you are asked to explain or go into detail about the work you are claiming that is yours.

Furthermore, learning a skill by doing is quite beneficial to establishing you as a leader. All things can not truly be delegated. You can not expect to become a software giant without the ability to know at least basic programming. Even though, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did a lot of delegation of work, there was still plenty they did on their own that made them super valuable to the process of establishing their companies, including reviewing the work of their subordinates and designing products that eventually went out to customers.

The Key

There are ways to delegate and receive credit without infringing on other people's rights and respectablilities. Often times when you are in power, you're going to get the credit anyway. People will often respect a person in power for their ability to delegate. Most people don't care that musicians now-a-days don't write their own songs, or that politicians don't write their own speeches. However, if you are trying to make your way to the top, often you have to do it on your own merits. Although, there are ways of taking advantage of other people's knowledge. When you read about the achievements of other great people and you emulate them, you are utilizing the knowledge and works of others. Don't mistake this law for giving you a lincense to plagarize and steal.

Have you read The 48 Laws of Power? What did you think of Law #7?

You can probably get this book on for less than $15 or bid on it on eBay, but read it with a compassionate heart and watch the Laws of Power work magic in your business, relationship and life! Then, join the conversation in the comment box below!


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