Law 1: Never Outshine the Master

Nov 19, 2018Latest, Pro Victoria

Authentic Masculinity’s commentary on Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power

Law Number 1: Never Outshine the Master.

The 48 Laws of Power is a book every man should read. If you’re turned off by the title, check yourself. It may mean you are dangerously naïve. More on that in a later post.

Law Number 1: Never Outshine the Master.

Never outshine the master means don’t look better than your boss. It sounds simple but gets more interesting the better you understand it. Essentially it means to be humble.

Before we proceed, remember this: Be false to no man and to thine own self be true. Don’t use anything we offer dishonestly or insincerely. Never use another human being as a means to an end, for all human beings are sacred and are an end in themselves. You’ll profit more dramatically and permanently by treating others well and fairly than by taking shortcuts.

A good servant is humble.

Let’s assume you’re an employee.

An employee is a servant and servanthood is powerful. A good servant is humble. As an employee you should learn to bring more to your job than you are paid for but always read the environment and don’t rock the boat. Serve unobtrusively and don’t be a threat. As an employee you’re a guest. Someone else built the company that employs you. It took time, energy and the benefit of many mistakes and consequent lessons to grow and cultivate it to a point where it can support you and those you love and lead. Once you understand your environment, the benefits of not outshining your boss begin to accumulate.

Five Reasons Never to Outshine the Master

First, it puts the focus on your boss. You should know where he wants to go and what his plans, goals and objectives are. Once you know those, help him to achieve them. If he is a good boss, a good master, he will remember you and reward you. If he is not you still benefit because you will have learned valuable lessons studying him.

Second, it helps you learn humility. Humility is the first key to self-mastery.

Third, if you seek to ascend the dominance hierarchy, you’ll learn that as you rise you’re valued more for your judgment and discretion than for any technical expertise you bring to the equation. Technicians can always be hired; men of discretion and good judgment are rare and very valuable. And, with discretion and good judgment you build trust. Trust is the most valuable commodity there is.

Fourth, you are always being watched and evaluated by others. You’re watched by your subordinates, peers and superiors. Your master (your boss) is watching, too. But you can also watch. A good servant judges how others value the gift of his professionalism. If your boss doesn’t value you or your contributions, that’s a good thing to know.

Fifth, it helps you conquer yourself. Conquer yourself and you conquer a kingdom. Remember, you are not there to serve yourself, you are there to serve God and those you love and lead. Be patient, work hard, and be a good servant. By doing so, you conquer and prevail.

Shannon McGurk

Shannon McGurk


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