Join us as we begin our exploration of Robert Greene’s provocative and compelling study of The 48 Laws of Power, 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).

This episode delves into Law 1: ‘Never Outshine the Master’, uncovering some fascinating issues:

  • Why you don’t get to choose whether you play the game of power. Joker123 Download
  • How can you avoid letting your own desire to succeed make other people feel insecure and resentful?
  • How transgressing the Law can come back to bite you years down the line.
  • How can we create a personal code that’s moral as well as effective?
  • Why you should take care of other people’s emotional needs before you get what you want from them.
  • How powerful people teach you not to behave like them.
  • The difference between who you are and what you think.
  • How you brain keeps changing your memories when your expectations are upset.
  • What happens when you outgrow a mentor? Can the relationship survive, or does this always end in bitter clashes and resentment?
  • And, in the end… why it’s logically impossible to outshine the master.

Mentioned in the Episode:

  • Robert Greene’s superb book, Mastery
  • David Foster Wallace on advertising: ‘It did what all ads are supposed to do: create an anxiety relievable by purchase‘, from Infinite Jest
  • Bruce Lee’s ‘Be like water‘ insight.
  • Geoff Thompson’s work.

Transcript

Hello and welcome. I’m Dre. I’m John. And this is Voices in the Dark and you’re listening to our very, very first episode. That’s right. We recorded this about a year and a half ago now and a lot more people have been jumping on board listening to the podcast and they go back to the first episode, understandably, to get on the roller coaster of the 48 laws of power. So we wanted to just give you a bit of a new introduction and say the podcast is growing. We’ve done all the 48 laws. We created an extra law. We created a book about it. And we’re talking about the 50th law as well. The sequel with the rapper 50 Cent. And to say the journey is long ahead. Yes. And it’s full of really, really powerful lessons and information. And, you know, we’ve grown in many ways. We thought of ourselves as pretty versed in the laws of power when we started because we, you know, we had our own experiences. Sort of trying to learn from the book, but actually having to explain it to others in this format has led us to a whole other level of understanding, at least I feel. Yeah. I mean, people say you only really know a subject when you have to teach it. And in some way, I guess by trying to share it and tell other people about it. That’s kind of what we’ve been doing. So we also just wanted to say apart from thank you for starting here. Hope you’ll stay with us and be in touch. We’ve also got a lot of new interviews. We’re expanding into that. So you can check those ones out too. But as you’ll hear, this was us also starting out with the equipment. So the audio is a little rough and ready here and there, but stick with us because we incrementally made a lot of rapid improvement. And yes, soon enough things will settle down. Yeah. You know, started with one microphone shared between two of us and we didn’t know how to use the noise cancellation. You know, we’re also trying to sort of talk whilst adjusting things. It was it was an interesting experience because I had produced podcasts before and I’d been on podcasts before, but not both at the same time. That was a challenge. Yeah. And then if you have rowdy people nearby, you have to teach them discipline. That’s right. You can hear my horrible flatmates, which have now been kicked out and replaced with beautiful flatmates intentionally being noisy in the kitchen because they hated me. So amidst all that power, then we became more powerful and put them in line. So that’s basically to say if the audio annoys you, it won’t. It doesn’t last for long. Everything. Everything just gets better. And it’s great to have you on board. If you enjoy the show, you want to support it. Please head over to iTunes. Give us a five star rating review that really helps. Tell a friend, some people you think you might benefit from it. And thanks very much for joining us. Voices in the Dark presents Exploring the 48 Laws of Power. All right, all right. I think we are recording. We are. We’ve got the first law of power in front of us. Indeed, indeed. We both are relatively fans. Definitely powerful all the time. Well, I’m a big fan of Robert Greene. I discovered his books. How many years ago? I was about London Real when I first joined London Real, which was in 2012 ish. It’s been about three years. And I came across him because he was a recommendation by Neil Strauss. Okay. So I wrote Neil Strauss after I finished the game. I emailed him and I got a relatively personal reply back from his assistant and started our conversation. And I asked for expanded reading list. What was recommended? And Robert Greene featured quite heavily, both in the art of seduction, but also the 48 Laws of Power. And I ended up sort of seeing Robert on London Real itself being interviewed and falling in love with sort of the way he came across. He really did seem like a powerful man because of just how zen and calm he was. And I bought all the books right after the interview. I’ve been a big believer of his philosophy. But how did you come across him? I think it was through his presence on various podcasts. But I think it was a friend of mine who said, check this out. And I was very resistant because I think like many people, and this is how he gets challenged when he’s first interviewed on every show, I thought it was a this is how to be a dick and screw people over kind of thing. And it’s sold in that way, which is quite misleading because it’s sold on the blurb on the jacket itself. It’s like how to become a modern Machiavelli. And you know that it’s given out or the concise version is given out to young bankers and other business people. It’s marketed very effectively, but it’s a much deeper, wiser and thoughtful books on that. And I suspect that Robert Greene has to spend a lot of time, and I’ve heard him do it several times, sort of explaining that that’s what it is. This is a description of how things work, how people work, how power works and how you at the very least should be aware of it to not become other people’s victim. It doesn’t mean that you have to then use these tools to try and victimize anybody else. And ideally, I think what the book suggests is that you’re you’re not going to victimize everybody or anybody else. You’re just trying to use the knowledge to your maximum advantage. That doesn’t mean that lots of people are brutalized along the way. And I think it was also you recommending to me to look at more of his stuff, because what I what I read first was Mastery, which I which really spoke to me on because it was talking about creativity and trying to connect with what your vocation uses the word carefully. What is your calling? What is your vocation? Which is something that I’m trying to work out. And because he was so eloquent in explaining it and the way that he presents the historical examples, it was it was very compelling. And that led me because of the depth, nuance and I guess mastery of the way that he even did it. It led me on to think this is a dude worth reading other works by as well. One of the things I quite liked about that sort of a reply, I guess, by him within the book itself to anyone that feels a little bit squeamish about using the laws or reading up about the laws was the idea that ultimately anyone telling you that there should be no seduction and no manipulation is ultimately playing a style of manipulation. Yeah, they’re trying to use sort of morals and their own kind of framework to impose behavior on you. Yeah, they are trying to use power over you, whether they know it or not. And I guess that’s part of the revelations that you can get from this. This book is that it’s not necessarily a conscious use of power. Even people who are victimizing you in one way or another may not really consciously know that they’re doing it. But to become conscious of it is already to be able to gain more control over your situation. Well, there’s 48 laws in the book and we were looking at the first one. Never outshine the master and I’ve definitely run afoul of that particular law. Because you’re so shiny. I consider a lot of times I just always feel like I’m supposed to give my best at things and the more I’m helpful, the more I’ll get rewarded. But people tend not to like feeling inferior in any way, especially not towards someone who’s meant to be an employee or a protege or some kind. But I mean, have you come across cases where you messed up and did the opposite? Because it’s quite interesting to kind of start retroactively applying the laws to your own behavior and things that happened to you in the past. I don’t think I’ve done it to a master. I think that I’ve definitely been in job situations where I’ve been so much more engaged with what I’m doing and trying to improve things that I’ve made other people really resentful of it because it highlights their own disengagement and makes them feel embarrassed about it. And people can easily cast you instead of seeing you as someone who’s trying very hard and doing their best. They’re like, you’re doing it for your own aggrandizement. You’re a goody two shoes. You’re kissing someone’s ass. Whatever. I was I understand how this this theory works that if you have a direct master and you appear to be going you appear to be doing things that make you look more important and more intelligent and more able than them, then that’s not going to lead to your advancement. You may end up suffering being thrown out or depending what time period you’re talking about, maybe you’re just going to be locked up or executed. But one thing that I still don’t get about this law is where does the sort of mentor figure fit in here. There’s something that Robert Green and others are big on is mentors and a mentor in the way that they’re often spoken about is someone who is trying to bring you up and see something really significant in you and wants you to be very successful. And a balanced, thoughtful mentor is someone who gives you all that they they can but knows that this is one stage in your development and you will go beyond and they may take may well take pride in the fact that you will go beyond them. So how does that fit with this law? I think that ultimately people are people and they’re a bit flawed and they’re going to be sort of prey to the emotions that we’re all kind of always battling. And so a mentor is even in the best cases with the best intentions going to suddenly feel inadequate if you start surpassing him. So the relationship is all positive or could be a positive doesn’t actually have to be but it’s more likely to be positive when they feel like they’re imbuing you with knowledge like they’re valuable to you and therefore they’re validated by their ability to help you become something. The moment you start surpassing them and being better at them at their at their craft. That is a difficult moment for any human being I think to process and it is almost inevitable that they’ll feel jealousy or insecurity, whether consciously or not. They’ll start to undermine their own student and they’ll feel like they’re being ruled in by that experience. Now there might be a few exceptional individuals that rejoice in the opportunity of having enriched the world by having created something that goes further than what they were able to do. I think that’s the exception to the rule rather than the norm. And I also think it’s part of a healthy system of mentorship. You are supposed to slay the master and take over. It’s sort of an inevitable part of that relationship and it’s meant to be like that. It is unfortunate in some ways on a personal relationship sort of level. But I think you haven’t done your job as a mentor if there isn’t a pulling out with your mentee at some point. Okay, so it’s sort of part of the natural life cycle which maybe isn’t something that we would look at in an emotionally neutral way. But ultimately it’s just a shifting of the seasons. I think that’s what happens. That’s what we see a lot in this book that by talking about the laws of power being present, whatever you think about it, you can make analogies like, however you may feel about the fact that the wind is blowing a storm in your face, the wind is still going to blow. And it’s up to you as to what you do about it. And the elements are just in play at all times. So I guess there’s a thread of stoicism in this. Generally this philosophy, you only have control over how you’re going to react and respond to things, not about, not the existence of the things in the first place. The reversal that he puts in is that it kind of acknowledges the fact that there is this natural life cycle that there can be a weak master and that they’re likely to fall at some point. He says, gauge his strength if he is weak, discreetly hasten his downfall. But if not, then bide your time and be patient. Whilst these things, they make sense in and of themselves, I think that it’s still a little abstracted as you need to if you’re talking about laws of power universally, but it’s hard to think of as many clear cut situations where you’re in this mentor mentee relationship, because for most people they’re in some kind of job and maybe they have a manager. That’s not a mentor figure. And it’s more than about managing a workspace environment where you have to allow the person with more authority to feel unthreatened. I think if you redefine the meaning of master or mentor to something a bit more simpler to follow in a sort of logical almost equation like manner to someone who holds theoretically benevolent power over you. That could be manager could be an official mentor could be an informal mentor could be the president, you know, someone you had if for any reason you have a really direct relationship with someone who holds some power over you via his station or level of learning or what you desire. And based on that then it becomes simple to see that you must make sure that you don’t undermine this person in a way that the benevolent power turns to malevolent power over you. I think that’s what the first law really exemplifies this idea of do not turn what is a source of help potentially certainly an ally a protection into an enemy. I think that is the core of it and I think that that’s what you need to focus on rather than potentially seeing this as you know just in isolation never outshine the master makes it sound like don’t try and live up to your full potential. There will be a feeling of self censorship involved in this, but you need to keep looking at the big picture that was this person still has power over you. As opposed to playing the long game where when you escape their power either by leaving that relationship or by outdoing them as they fall, whatever, that then that’s, that’s the steps that you need to be looking at but in the meantime, don’t alienate, don’t fuck up. Definitely. And there’s also an element of what are you trying to do. Why for example, make a joke that shows that you’re more intelligent than someone in front of other people. What are you, what are you trying to achieve? Are you trying to put them down and hurt them like and or to make them feel inferior? Why would you do that or why would you behave in such a way that clearly shows to them that they’re inferior makes them feel bad. But you said you’ve done this. So what were you thinking? I wasn’t thinking I was being self centered. I did not take into consideration what the effects of my actions or behavior were because I thought there was a worth in what I was doing on its own and it was more important. It’s something people tend to fall prey to, especially if they’re the sort of the intellectual types. They think that an idea or behavior has a merit into itself and that is a merit that is higher than emotions or, you know, just interpersonal relationships. But ultimately, it’s not. It comes last. Everything we do as a social creature is based on relationships and it’s based on how we feel about each other. So to affect that negatively in any way precludes any of those ideas you think are good from getting done. And if your purpose is to get stuff to happen, to create, to realize ideas, then you must accept that the road to that is not necessarily a straight one. I wonder how genius fits into this because people may make the mistake, think, well, I’m above and beyond this, that personal relationships don’t matter because my idea or my art, the thing that I am giving, its worth will simply shine through and people won’t be able to deny it whatsoever. And sometimes I think that happens, or at least it happens enough and the story is told enough that you focus on it. And often that’s misleading, as I think Mastery, another book, explains that actually those moments of bursting through are after many long years of apprenticeship without outshining the master and then coming to the point. But I think there must be some instances where the talent is undeniable. Now, I doubt this is the best example, but I always think when talking about this sort of figure of Kanye West, like he is an objectionable shit in so many ways. But I think he’s also a genius and I think that a lot of people who could have said no and keep him down because he’s so obnoxious, because he’s so difficult, because he’s so egotistical. They’ve had to suspend that because the talent is so undeniable that it breaks through. But maybe that’s just because I’m on the outside looking in and I don’t know what the inner mechanics of the personal relationships are. Not sure about Kanye because I don’t know enough about his personal relationships. But I wonder if he started that way. Would he, if he was a shit at the beginning of his career when people were, when he still relied upon the favors of others. Maybe it wouldn’t have been possible. It’ll be interesting to know. But it’d be hard to get an objective look. You couldn’t ask him. But I think you need to have both things, right? So you must have that sort of forging a new path, ability within you. But until you’re in a position of enough power and autonomy to be able to do that, when you’re still relying on masters that have power over you and that have the keys to the doors that you’re looking to open, then you have to play that biting game that waiting your time. And it’s more about. Well, you could still change the world by being a total shithead, I think you could be there’s been artists, for example, that have done things that everybody slated them for. They were pariahs. And now we know how great they were. But now we know how great they were. Yeah. If you look at their lives, their lives were shit. They did. They had a horrible time. They died in depression. They killed themselves. And so you want to ask yourself is, OK, do I want people 50 years from now think I was a genius and validate me, but I’ll have a horrible life? Or do I want to try achieve greatness within my lifetime? I think that’s the biggest difference. That’s where you have to play that part of it as well. It’s a very I don’t know if it’s correct, say, psychopathic or sociopathic in this way. If your idea is ultimately my greatness will be recognized and I don’t need to be around to see it, then the positive responses of people around you clearly isn’t that important to you. But for most people, it’s extremely important. And to have to live in misery, penury, dejection and yet still keep producing this stuff in the faith that it is worthwhile in itself. That’s a hugely difficult task, even if we seem to value it as some kind of the artist who was compelled to keep doing it. Well, how many other great artists just kind of were a little less obsessive and thought, well, it’s not working, is it? Fuck this, I’ll have to do something else. I was just I was thinking of an occasion where I did. If not, I didn’t outshine the master in the sense that I wouldn’t consider the person in question to have been to be a master. But there’s a gatekeeping process in in academia when you do a PhD after the within the first year, you have to do a kind of a little review where it’s determined whether you can continue or not. You have to frame what your project is, demonstrate that it’s really on track, that your questions are clear and that it’s it’s going somewhere essentially. And it’s assessed by a couple of people. And for me, they absolutely hated it. They really hated it. And what I didn’t understand about the nature of the meeting that we had was that it wasn’t an area for me to defend. It wasn’t an arena for me to defend and argue. It was meant to be a ceremonial place where these masters would give me their wisdom and say, there’s all these problems here. You need to take on board all of this feedback and you need to make all these changes. And I was expected to go, oh, thank you so much. You’ve highlighted all of these issues for me. You know, whether or not I followed their advice, which I wouldn’t have the smooth path to take of not causing them discomfort and then discomfort for me because of their discomfort. I should have done that instead. I just I argued because they were dumb. And when I discussed like that, I got a super toxic report back that was just intense in its negativity. But I knew I was in the right. And so did like my supervisors, other people in the department who were who saw like the feedback. There was no substance to the criticisms I received. It really all came down to this clash of egos and the fact that I refused to just take this subservient role. Did it serve me in any way to have done that? Well, I felt very justified in myself. It didn’t help. It hindered. It caused tension and lasting problems because the same the lead guy in this this interview then attempted to sabotage a publication of mine years later. All right. Years later. Years later. And did you have any major contact with him from in between those two times? Only I thought we’d move past this, but I guess my pretend cordiality to him was was much like his pretend cordiality to me that we were both lying. Or at least I think that I had got past this tension and thought, OK, it’s over. I’ve bitched about it for enough time. It doesn’t matter. It’s just a case that what I do is different to what he does. He doesn’t value what I do. I don’t value what he does, or at least not not very much misunderstanding. Never mind. And then it was revealed to me indirectly and I’m not meant to know about it, that he tried to. His opinion was involved in will we publish this or not? And he was like, no, no, it’s got no merit. Amazing. And it is amazing how downstream repercussions can be had by your behavior and your refusal to conform to some of the most basic human instincts around what we. How we relate to each other and interpersonal conflict. This idea that, you know, just being right is enough. Yeah. And it’s a real problem for me, like my whole life in school, in in all situations where there’s authority, where I don’t think that there’s cause for me to respect the authority. If the authority figure does things which I think are unreasonable or illogical, or they’re just clearly exercising their power in an arbitrary way. I just can’t deal with it and I don’t respect them and I call bullshit on it. And I feel like that’s an important and valuable part of my personality that I have to learn how to express it or to deal with those emotions. Because simply calling bullshit doesn’t often lead anywhere productive. And I still feel that tension very acutely because I just instinctively want to say this is bullshit. I’m going to confront you about it. But strangely enough, when you confront someone with their weaknesses or their problems, even if you’re completely true and they know it, their reaction is not, oh, thank you so much for highlighting that to me. And you should really think about that and go and reflect like, no, get the fuck out my face. How dare you embarrass me in this way? One thing that has helped me straighten out some of these ideas and make me accept them a bit more has been looking at everything people do. Putting it on its head, rather than tackling the content of what they’re saying or doing, going back to the source and always addressing the emotion first. What is their motivation? Why are they saying something as opposed to what are they saying? Are they telling me that I’m wrong because they don’t like me? Are they telling me that I’m wrong because they are hierarchical hierarchically higher than me and therefore they need to validate their own power by letting me know that they’ve been there and done that. Like, what is it that they need? Do they need validation? Do they need comfort? Why are they doing what they’re doing? And always addressing that first. Am I meant to respond with something that shows that I’m subservient and I meant to respond with something that shows that I value their advice? And once you get over that hurdle, it’s surprising how quickly you can get to the other stuff. If you eliminate the emotion right away and address it so that they are fulfilled in their most primary need, their most basic reptilian brain need of what they were trying to achieve. You’re eliminating their emotion by what do you mean? By fulfilling it. By fulfilling it, okay. Eliminating the emotion behind the why of what they’ve done or said by fulfilling it, addressing it, taking care of them. Sort of the sexual equivalent would be to take care of them first. Once they’re happy, once they’re sated with what they were looking for, then you can start to go around by your stuff. And surprisingly, the fact that you’ve taken the time to respond in the way that is most appropriate will often lead to quite quickly them being open to then admitting perhaps that they were wrong. That’s true. That’s true. I think when you do it can be as simple as just beginning by going, I really appreciate you taking this time for me. I know you’re really busy, so thank you. And then that just does a switch for them where they’re like, ah, okay, they value the fact that I’m here. I’m not being taken for granted. This is a respectful person. And then they proceed from that starting point, which is quite different to if you haven’t said it. Yeah, that’s where I like to mix. So some of that philosophy came from reading the seven habits of highly effective people. And I like what’s in there, but I think it becomes more powerful when it’s married to the almost opposite philosophy of the 48 laws of power. Okay. But by taking both of those things, I think you can do quite some damage in terms of being effective. And to me, almost everything one of these books is or at least to begin with, my exploration of these topics was about how to be more effective because I want to help myself and because I want to help others. And I want to use what I think are my good ideas to do so. And ultimately, that’s what kind of what we’re exploring, I think, even with this kind of podcast or whatever we want to call it, this little foray into these topics is how do we take these lessons? How do we Bruce Lee these philosophies and take what is useful, describe what isn’t and kind of create a code, a personal code by which you can be more effective. Human being. Yeah. And effective is a neutral term, too, which is good because I think a lot of, like I said earlier, that suspicion, even for me that I still have to keep sort of speaking back to mentally is, are you just trying to be a dickhead? Are you trying to learn tactics of manipulation and control with a negative valence? When in reality, we’re always doing things which are trying to change other people’s behavior, whether that be trying to make them like us, trying to make them be nice to us, trying to put them at their ease. And it can be just nice things like that. But you still do things going, if I do this, it will affect them like this. And this is just another another level to that. And I think I like the fact Robert Green points out, I think probably more than once, people quite like they like in the in the way that we just said, if you begin your conversation with with someone in a particular way, you serve their emotional need. They know that you’re doing it. They may know that you’re doing it for a particular reason, but they like the fact you’ve done it. It’s a performance of a ritual. The same way if someone very often if someone buys you a pint, you appreciate the fact that they bought it for you and it’s a gift and it’s a symbol. But you both know that you’re buying one back. So ultimately you spent the same amount of money, but a emotional transaction has happened as well, which is more important. Yeah, yeah. And it is just simply not realistic to refuse to take part in what is essentially being a human being. And our emotional range and our the way we interact with each other is ultimately almost an instrument that needs to be played. And other people play you and you play them and you create music out of that. And everyone’s trying to create a particular kind of music from interacting with your instrument. And whether they do it one way or another, it’s still something’s still being created and doing it badly as opposed to doing it well is not in any way something you should be proud of. And I think ultimately I don’t know if it’s a good analogy. Maybe it went down a bad analogy. No, I like I like that that instrument idea that say if I if I put myself back in the room where I’m being assessed and the argument is happening over my piece of work, they’re playing a particular tune. Now, if I wanted to get out of that situation to my best advantage, I would take here is a melody that I wanted to play, but I should play it in that key. That I managed to communicate some of the things, some of the essence of what I think, but do it on their terms. They’ve determined the key in which we’re playing. And I need to be aware that theirs is the basis. They have the power in this situation. And I need to find to navigate effectively through it. Then I need to choose tactics which work to at least my least disadvantage, which is, I guess, an advantage of some kind. I think it’s nice. It sounds like a positive way. This this metaphor that you’ve used because it’s kind of playful to play you. You’re going to play them and think of times when you’ve spent you spent time with someone and you felt like they’ve really got the best out of you. And that’s because of them doing things, facilitating things for you, which is the positive side of the coin of where we think the negative side is where they’re compelling you to do things that you don’t want to. It’s the same coin. Cool. I was worried I went down a funny road, but I do see all interactions now as almost a dance. And I think everything’s a seduction and it has a bad connotation to the word seduction. But to me, it means synchronization. I think I mentioned this. I might have mentioned it to you. I see seduction in all interaction as sort of an old school dial up modem synchronization. You have one side going, and the other side is doing the same thing. And they’re talking to each other. And they’re trying to align the timing between different things to reach a consensus that establishes and forges a relationship that allows information to flow. Yes. And all relationships to me and all interactions observe a similar dance. And if at any point one of the two sides moves too quickly or too slowly or with too much strength or too little strength, then the communication and the connection fails. And I think viewing it that way and thinking of seduction that way and thinking that everything, every human interaction is a seduction that requires sort of a negotiation. If you think about it in terms of a dance, it’s you go up to someone and you offer, you know, would you like to dance? The person stands up and you have to grab their hand and you have to someone has to lead. Someone has to push. Someone has to pull. And ultimately, if any of these steps fail, the interaction fails. And if you want the dance to occur, you must go through those steps to demonize any of the steps of, you know, in saying, you know, holding hands is wrong or asking someone to dance is wrong leads to no dance. That applies to all types of interactions between us. I think it’s a good analogy, but it requires a bit more complication with it with the dance, because in the going up to someone and the leading and pushing and pulling in set dances, that’s already kind of prescribed. Whereas when you meet someone new and we’re not talking about literal dancing, there’s also a negotiation over the roles, whereas there’s set kind of gender roles or they’re set. But some of it still comes through that just by people sizing each other up, they kind of find their balances, who leads in this situation, who leads the conversation, or is it one of discovery of a harmony where you both flow really, really easily with the two of you, which is then it’s more like you’re going, you’re standing side by side and you’re looking at things together and sharing it rather than just being trying to maneuver around together. Like facing each other and. Yeah, I’m not sure if that do you see what I’m saying. I know what you’re saying is, as with all metaphors, it’s not a perfect one. Why not? Perfect metaphors. But it’s just a way for me to look at things that has helped me not feel resentful. I think intellectual logical people tend to resent the dance. Yes, they want plain blunt things, which is like Robert Green says it is another form of manipulation. You’re trying to impose sort of lazy your own laziness. You want things to be easy for you. And ultimately, the evolution of complex social interactions is an inevitability of the fact that once everyone’s been blunt, the only way you can be more effective is by being more strategic. And when everybody does that, then someone everybody else has to up their game. And when everybody does that as to keep going and going and evolving and becoming more complex and yeah, and to to to to not want to jump on the bandwagon is simply to refuse to evolve. I think that the resentment point is really a good one. I think maybe the the power imbalance plays into this that people who are in a higher position of power can often feel that resentment quite easily. Maybe they just feel themselves to be superior in some way rather than actually having a clear authority position over somebody where there’s resentment in having to do the dance because you’re like, well, you’re not really worth worth me doing the dance. And yet, you still have to if you want that person to do the things that you want them to that the blunt instruments of just, it’s my authority, and you’re going to do it. And then it just becomes then it’s a personal clash. It’s like being. It’s like making demands of a shop assistant, like unreasonable demands or you being angry with them that’s not going to help you get to the resolution that you want, as opposed to if you treat them with respect and do this, where you can have a personal discussion that leads to resolution rather than refusing to accept their existence as an autonomous human. Indeed. I’m going to say, I’d be interested and I have a suspect this is a period of suspicion it’s got instinct that if analyzed throughout time, all the societal constructs that make us feel resentful over playing the game would have been instilled by institutions and people trying to retain their power and trying to make sure that you don’t step outside your box and therefore challenge them. Things like moral codes from certain religions or even laws by society designed to make you feel bad. If anything other than what’s plain and open and people call it honest, but I call it lazy. Because anything that is slightly obfuscated and anything that allows for shifts in power and energy flow from one system to another is dangerous to those that are already at the top. So give me give me a concrete example. I’m trying to think of one, but I would say, let me try and find a good one. I might have to wait till the next episode. Right now I’m gonna put on the spot I can’t think of a good one. Well, I wonder if it’s if you are you feel like you can’t ask for things which you want because you’re worried about how you will be perceived that sort of fits into it where you you want to be treated better or you want to ask for a raise, but you feel like you can’t do it because you’ll be resented for it. Or also this idea, you know that you get instilled from the law and the way the government behaves that you know you must not lie. You have to, you know, abide by certain rules and things. So the moralizing aspect. Yeah, that ultimately when you notice when you when things come unraveling you notice that you at the bottom are the only ones doing it, whereas the people in power are not doing any of that. And what they’re trying to do is not impose what’s right. But making sure they’re making sure that you don’t do what they do, which is very different. They labeled what they do as wrong because they don’t want you to copy it. Yeah, regardless of whether it’s wrong or not. Which sounds really generalized, but it’s, but it’s, it’s not. This is a phenomenon that we see over and over again the behind closed doors reality that once the cameras turn off the debauchery unfolds. And obviously we see that in the behavior of bankers in the financial crisis and so on. But there’s, I mean there’s a lot of sociological theory that would would support this, that it’s about getting people to police themselves. And by making a virtue out of that policing. So it’s the fundamental tactic of organized religion from from, if not the very start then as soon as it becomes clearly institutionalized that people spend so much time demonizing their own natural behavior, and the only way that they can find absolution and, and a sense of peace is via the mediating body of the church. It’s like, I don’t remember the exact quote but I think it’s David Foster Wallace describes advertising is creating a sense of insecurity and then providing you the means of removing that insecurity. Here’s the problem. We’re the solution. Now you’re trapped in the system. But it’s, I think what you’re hitting on in particular that’s really important is the morality aspect. You can’t act that way. Your own parents teach you. Like how people like Jeff Thompson have described, trying to get out of their existing social environment, and everybody in it tries to make them feel bad and say, who are you to do that. You are rejecting all of us. You are getting above yourself. Therefore there’s an implicit condemnation, and it’s just like you’re shitting all over us kind of approach. It’s really interesting to me. It’s really interesting to me and it touches upon something else that I’ve been thinking about lately, which is that the reason why that happens is because people predicate their own identity on what they’ve chosen to be. So what they believe in, their ideas, they are not just a few software programs knocking about in the hardware that is their brain, but it is their identity. And to unravel any of it is to personally challenge their existence and whether or not it’s something good or bad. You were essentially attacking them as a person by challenging their ideas, which is completely the opposite of what I’ve been brought up as. Maybe I got lucky with my parents, but you were allowed to express any idea. You’re allowed to change it. And I never felt the need to associate who I was with what I thought. That’s an important distinction and I’ve found myself on the opposite side of that where I not so long ago was finding myself extremely insecure when my partner at the time was trying to pin me down on my political beliefs and was trying to say, well, your label Lib Dem or your left wing or your right wing, and we’re just pointing out all the consist inconsistencies or the or was focusing on the fact that I didn’t have a view on issue X. I was like, I don’t know. I don’t really know much about it. So I don’t have a view on it. And it took me a long time to move past the sense of inadequacy. The fact that for me, I was turning into an identity crisis. Who am I? I don’t even know what I think about stuff until my counselor that I was talking to about some of this stuff said, maybe you should have the courage of your lack of conviction. I like that. I like that a lot. It really stuck with me. I’m like, yeah, actually, it’s a sign that I’m not doctrinaire that I don’t feel the need to have an opinion on things that I don’t have a sense of clarity about, and I don’t need to be in any particular camp. And but again, that troubles other people because you’re not fitting into a certain box. But I started just to tie that off. I started making that a problem about my identity, whereas you’re saying you didn’t have that issue. No, no, it’s interesting. I think other people come across that and they figure out either on their own or by someone else’s help, the idea of not having a doctrine or a dogma. And I see a lot of people that hit that then fail at it by turning the not having a dogma or doctrine into its own dogma or doctrine. So then they reject the forming of even temporary kind of systems of belief or ideas. They try to always be formless, regardless of the situation, whereas I think the end goal is to be the most adaptive and the most fluid. You want to be like water. Once again, Bruce Lee quote unquote, I do like Bruce Lee, be like water, my friend. The idea was that, you know, if you’re in a cup, you’re cup shaped. You’re in a teapot, you’re teapot shaped. And you’re not formless. You do adapt the container that you’re in at that particular point in time, but you can shift between states. That is the goal to be able to be adaptable as opposed to not having form. That’s the 48th law of power, I think about being in fluid state. Yeah, I forgot about that. That is, yeah, it’s in there. Of course, it’s only 48 laws. It’s got all of them. I think that that kind of fluidity is about adaptation, which is, so I accept all that you’ve just said. Whereas the kind of the lack of conviction was bringing up other associations for me of being called out by people for saying, oh, but you said you hated that author, or you didn’t like that author. Or you didn’t like that idea. And I don’t even remember holding that previous view because I think when I change and that there’s nothing wrong with that, but I don’t really see that change. It’s like when you haven’t seen somebody for six months and they’ve lost a lot of weight and they have forgotten and they don’t really think about it much and you see them and you’re like, whoa, that’s a change. That doesn’t that’s a bit, but you don’t appreciate your own change that that clearly. I don’t know if it’s significant that for me, I worried and sometimes I still worry about the lack of consistency in my views, because I don’t remember the reasons for my previous points of view, like where is the, it’s like the evolutionary process has been lost to me and I’m just like, why was I thinking that? And now I now I don’t know. Maybe that’s a different kind of fluidity. Maybe that’s just the need for Alpha brain. Yeah, it is. Well, the brain has to do some very difficult tasks and some of them are contradicting and I’ve always found myself in a place where I’m often unable to recall why I think something or where a piece of information that I know has come from. But being a pretty confident fellow, I was always sure. So I never troubled me too much. This kind of black box scenario where I don’t know why this is the answer, but I know it’s the real answer. I forgotten the mechanism, but I know the result. I don’t remember why I don’t know how I got four and it’s probably two plus two, but that’s gone. But I know that the result is for. That’s a dangerous road to go down because you start to believe yourself whether or not you are right. But there has to be an element of that because the brain is funny. It can be a rat, a rat, like, especially if you consume a lot of information and to try and pinpoint and nail down your thoughts like that. I think it’s counterintuitive. Well, it’s actually no, it feels intuitive, but it’s counterproductive because our thoughts and our ideas are not fixed. They are a wave that moves sort of a frequency, almost like a waveform. When you when you look at those visualizations of music, the good old fashioned iTunes or whatever. And you had this kind of sound waveform that would take on shapes and spirals and things. I like to think of thoughts like that and to say to take a screenshot of that any point in time is is not what the whole is. It changes. It radiates and it moves. And I think I’ve kind of lost my point there. But it’s strange to see, it’s strange to expect a consistency. And I agree it should be like this sort of a wave that hopefully is developing in a productive positive way for you. But even if it’s not, we have this strange desire because we want people to be in in a fixed sort of category. And the shape of the teacup when they’re in in the teacup and they should always be in the teacup, you kind of don’t recognize who they are when they’ve turned into something else. And so it’s it’s it’s really weird in its boldest form where when someone put a public figure changes their mind, say that the reaction is often no courage of their conviction. They flip flop like, well, or they got better information and they rethought and they’ve changed their mind in the light of that additional evidence. I’d say that’s a very important quality. I’m completely unfazed by someone changing their opinion to something that I also believe in. I don’t care how they got there. So long as it’s genuine so they can change their opinion both because they truly believe in it. That would be the best case scenario. I’d love that. I’d love to have someone that didn’t think what I thought changed their idea to something I thought if I thought it was a good idea, let’s say gay marriage recently. Hillary Clinton changed her mind. Now, she don’t I don’t I really don’t think she changed so genuinely. She changed because the political climate changed. Yeah. And that is also perfectly fine. So long as she truly changed her mind. So if she’s now on board with it and is going to legislate accordingly and push for those kinds of things, if she was president, I don’t care how she got there. However, if it is purely a voting tactic that then will not be followed, if she’s trying to fool you and dupe you into thinking that she’s changed her mind, that is a different matter. But if someone changes their mind, who cares? But what you said at the beginning was if they change their mind into something that you agree with, yes, then you’re fine with that. Yeah, perfectly fine with that. Politically speaking, we were kind of using that as an example, right? If someone changes their mind away from what I believe in, well, I’m fine with that as a concept. Like I wouldn’t like be angry at them for flip-flopping, but I’d be disappointed if it’s a political idea of some kind that I truly believed in. Let’s say freedom of information or reform of copyright law. If someone that was pro those things change their mind, I’m okay with the idea of them changing their mind as a concept. And I think that that’s the important thing that we’re discussing right now, that the possibility of change is not in itself something to be resented. I guess that confuses us still, doesn’t it? That even as we’re saying here, it shouldn’t confuse us that people change both their minds or the things they do. And yet if it goes in a direction that we don’t like, and we could say that in various ways it’s completely justifiable to be confused or even pissed off at the fact they now hold views which or they’re going to implement policies which we strongly object against. But that’s because we feel that way about those views. Whereas, you know, people looking from the other side of that perspective are going to be angry about stuff that we like and then we’re back to that very fundamental issue about, well, some people have different views. How do we change? How do we not change it? How do we deal with that? I think direct force. That’s the only way. We’ll get that into, I think it’s in the 33 strategies of war. We might have to cover direct attack, but I think usually it tends to be the war strategy. I think we’ve digressed a little bit from our original topic. We’re just playing around, I guess. I was thinking that in terms of changing people’s mind to follow that a little bit that it seems to me that it almost never happens unless you’re simply arguing a point of fact, and you can give them evidence, and then you can change someone’s mind. Whereas if it’s something more complex than that, doing it face to face, I find it almost never happens. And even when someone tries to convince me, almost never happens. Again, I think I’ve got better at this. I’m less attached to the need to hold on to my views. I’m kind of speaking cautiously now because I’m like, actually, I think I changed my mind quite a lot when people make eye contact, but maybe that’s not true. What I want to say is that I think it’s often once you’ve presented an alternative and you don’t do it in a combat way, which does link to this law of not outshining the master, that there are ways in which you can provide information and evidence of what you do in a way that doesn’t seem threatening and doesn’t outshine. And the same with changing someone’s mind. You can just say, well, look, let me set out my stand and here’s what I think. And maybe they will change their mind, but it will be later on that day or the next day when they’re on their own and there’s no longer a sense of it being a rivalry of ideas in that moment between two people. You just reflect and go, hmm, yeah, maybe. They have to make that across that threshold. You pull them over it. You might even temporarily pull them over it, but they’ll run back inside. They have to decide to cross that threshold and you have to lead them there the right way. And often that means addressing emotional as opposed to ideological or factual information. And I’ll give you an example. This is where biomedical science comes in handy and fun. There’s been experiments or also some things like that where in one case they gave it was a Coca Cola Pepsi experiment. So they gave people the drink that they didn’t prefer and told them that it was the drink that they preferred. And they said that they loved it and they could tell that it was the right drink. Now, when they were subsequently told, we fooled you, they changed their mind very quickly, but they didn’t just change their mind to save face on a surface level. Brain scans were done and it was shown that their brain was actively modifying the past memories to make them believe and think that they had noticed all along and that they didn’t like the drink. It’s impossible to see that much detail on a brain scan. They can because you can see which areas of the brains are activated, like whether it’s real memory or fake memory and you can see you can’t see exactly what’s happening. But they knew that the areas were activated in such a way that it was showing that they genuinely believed genuinely believe that they had disliked the drink and that they thought that they picked up on it straight away. They modified their own memory of it. I can think of I have a sensation rather than a concrete memory of moments where I’ve I’ve recalled, oh, and I changed my mind about that and have been reminded by someone that like, yeah, that’s because I argued with you about it eventually. And but my memory of it was me coming to my own realization rather than so I rewrote that I guess to we’ve got to all realize that our brains one of the one of the most important jobs that our brain has is to give you a coherent narrative and make you feel comfortable and not panic. And that means your brain lies to you constantly and modifies your reality to fulfill what your ideas and expectations what reality should be. This is especially strong if, as we discussed, you predicate your identity upon your ideas. Yes. And so again, back to the don’t outshine the master. If you are effectively modifying the nature of the relationship, you’re disrupting the narrative that the master they’re looking at this as I’m the master imparting my wisdom. This is the narrative that makes sense. If that becomes distorted, then they rebel against that because it no longer makes sense and kind of by definition to it now strikes me that if you do outshine them, they’re no longer the master. It is impossible to outshine the master because the relationship is broken by the act of outshining. That is really cool. That is a perfect reconnection to the beginning of our topic. And I think it’s a perfect ending to this conversation. Cut it off there. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.
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