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Control. We crave it, we scramble for it, and we hate to feel under the control of anyone else. Law 39 is all about learning how to retain control without even trying, explaining how it’s precisely by grasping for power that so many people lose it forever. Stillness and calm are the heart of power, but turning up your volume is the desperate resort of those who’re losing it. When emotions and fear take the lead, you become laughable or pathetic to those around you; retaining discipline and poise can make all the difference, even if your material situation is dire.

Simple on the the surface, this Law is filled with surprisingly deep psychological analysis. We dig deep into how our parents imprint so much on us, and how to break out of those patterns which we otherwise unthinkingly default to. But to find out what other people’s buttons are – to stir up their automatic reactions – can be an incredibly potent tool: stirring the waters can reveal their thumbscrews – taking us back to Law 33. As ever, this Law has a lot to say about relationships; passive aggression and trying to force others to do as you want can play an insidious but all too common role between couples.

We consider the vital difference between reacting and responding; why this isn’t a Law worth using when you’re not interacting with people of any relevant power; and when and how to take the reins in social situations – it’s much easier than you might imagine. Jon provides some insights from his time in Russia into the politics, power and leadership cult of Vladimir Putin, and Dre recalls key moments when we took the lead – and was applauded for doing so.

And there’s plenty more personal tales from when we’ve observed or transgressed the Law – resulting in both a public meltdown and in a gypsy curse…

This episode includes:

  • When Napoleon lost his shit… and thereby his power
  • The key signs that you’re losing power
  • The difference between starting before you’re ready and being goaded into foolish action
  • What Putin’s leadership style reveals about modern-day power
  • How to turn the dial down on other people’s emotions
  • Getting the last word: useful or not?
  • How to see past the immediate moment and retain the powerful long-view
  • The positive and the negative ways of getting in touch with your inner child
  • Power as a demeanour
  • When and how you can feign anger strategically

Mentioned in the episode:


Challenge: Stir up some shit while retaining complete calm. What happens? Do you come out of things better? What did you learn? Let us know in the comments!

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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