We’ve all done it. At certain times in our lives we’ve all settled for second best; accepted what we thought we could get, rather than pushing for what we really wanted.

But what about the other side of the coin? When you refuse to recognise the victory for what it is and keep on pushing until you’ve burnt yourself out, alienated people around you, and find yourself left with nothing at all? When the ego comes knocking, Total Victory can seem like a real goal – but is it?

Victory can also be the moment of greatest vulnerability, as events shake out and you need quickly to set the agenda for what comes next, before someone else does it for you. In these delicate transitional moments, it’s easy to start believing your own hype, which history shows is very much like penning your suicide note…

Law 47 centres around the need, above all things, to plan what you intend to do – to respond rather than simply to react in the moment, buffeted by the winds of fate. Do you know where you’re trying to get to? Will you even recognise your goal once you’ve reached it? it’s all too easy to imagine an emotional state in place of the tangible victory, and start pouting and whining when you achieve the latter without the former.

This Law – presaging the final, 48th Law – emphasises adaptability above all things. Ego must come second: do you want to be right, or do you want to be effective and successful? Most of the time, the two don’t go together.

As ever, we share our own stories and difficulties with this Law. Dre explains how he’s still working to overcome the habit of thinking his goal was closer than it appeared, and not to get sick of something he’s working for when it simply takes too long to achieve. Jon wonders about education and whether degrees and qualifications actually matter – especially when they, like other paper goals, end up getting substituted for self esteem.

We also explore how to cultivate an awareness of how things are going, rather than falling into nameless anxiety; seeing luck as the Absence of Catastrophe; we advocate more sleep to avoid becoming Margaret Thatcher; and also define the nature of belief… Because, why aim low?

This episode includes:

  • Stamping your authority on victory, before someone else steals your thunder
  • How startups fail to observe this Law… to their peril
  • Why lottery winners squander their money
  • Getting real: Is the goal you’re aiming for actually going to mean what you hope it will?
  • Bad luck and why we should love it
  • Knowing when to push to the end, and when to drop things and move on
  • Outstaying your welcome

Mentioned in the episode:

  • You can buy our beautiful companion book, The 48 Laws of Power in Practice, from the publisher HERE
  • Mark Manson’s book, The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck
  • Our feature interview with the awesome Cory Allen
  • Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s, The Black Swan


Challenge: Start an argument with somebody on a particular subject… and stop as soon as you get one concession. Don’t press beyond that mark and see what happens.

Be silly. Be kind. Be weird.

Join us as we continue our 48 Laws of Power review, exploring Robert Greene’s provocative and compelling book, in which he lays bare the history, practice, psychology, and philosophies of power that ultimately shape all human relations. Often seen as a handbook for the ‘modern Machiavelli’, we take a closer look, beyond the hyperbole, and discuss how understanding and implementing these Laws can actually enrich your life personally, professionally and spiritually.

Jon and Dre aim to get to the heart of each of the Laws, grapple with their sometimes disturbingly amoral nature, and discuss what the Laws mean in everyday life (often revealing their own experiences – good and bad – when they’ve either observed or transgressed them).

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