You’d have enormous power if you could predict the future. Learning to predict other people is the next best thing to a crystal ball… but, of course, your own behaviour must remain nebulous, fluid and unpredictable if you want to keep that advantage. This week, we talk about the international chess wars between the USA and the USSR; the costs of using Law 17 on the wrong person; how and uncover more examples of #accidentalpower.

What are you telling the world by the way you present yourself, and how can you control the message other people receive? We ponder when unpredictability shades into a reputation for being a loose cannon; Dre’s junior school trauma from being treated as a ‘sensitive boy’; and how hard-wired the limitations of his autism may be when it comes to predicting and understanding other people’s behaviours.

Jon reflects on the recent death of a friend – someone who always sidestepped expectations and was always unapologetically himself, in bursts of unpredictable creativity and confusion – and thinks how wrong he was to try to make that friend fit into a familiar categories. We think about what it means to be a genius, and whether the truly special people inevitably have traumatic lives because they simply cannot and will not fit into neatly-defined boxes.

As ever, we are your guides to this, Law 17, and we discuss how to use it and how it can apply to real life situations. But this episode is also the most revealing, personal, and reflective that we’ve done; it might very well be our best to date.

This Episode includes:

  • People’s unceasing desire to put you in a box so you’re neatly labelled and categorised. Resist the limitations they try to impose on you and reap the rewards!
  • Visual communication: what are you telling the world by the way you dress? And can you control the way you’ll be interpreted?
  • Are there limits to free expression without incurring violence and backlash?
  • How stereotypes and shortcuts shape (and control) the way we think – how can we avoid thinking in hieroglyphics?
  • The power of making illogical statements confidently
  • Predicting other people’s behaviour – why are humans better at this than other animals?
  • How do psychological conditions affect people’s ability to observe Law 17?
  • The people who make you go with their flow – and how
  • The blurry lines between being crazy and being a genius
  • Don’t try to be wild and crazy for the sake of attention: people can smell desperation and it will drive them away
  • The death of Robin Williams and how unpredictability doesn’t have to be manipulation at all, but an expression of and a need for love
  • When you’re at the top, you get to make the norms, even if  you were previously seen as a lunatic
  • The inevitability when reaching success of losing touch with what made you successful in the first place
  • How Law 17 relates to Law 6 – Court Attention At All Cost
  • Is drama and unpredictability gender- or sexuality-specific?
  • Be unpredictable, but remember you need to do it in an interesting way
  • Dre and Jon design a holiday fling dating app – comments and programmers get in touch below!
  • The secret of Law 17: You need to establish your reputation enough that people have something to expect from you in the first place
  • The need for internal consistency, whatever your public behaviour

Mentioned in the Episode:

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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48 Laws of Power T-Shirts

Each of these original T-Shirts includes an elegantly presented quotation illustrating the Law.

Law 17: ‘Once you have attained a certain level of recognition… You’re better off acting capriciously’
– Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

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