When spin-doctoring could be life or death. Machiavelli and his art.

Machiavelli continues to be a source of inspiration and quotations. People in marketing, management, politics and the power-mad have written about how they’ve been influenced by his ideas.

These ideas are from his book “The Prince” and you’ll want to read a copy if you are seeking the motivation and skills you may gain from reading his work. (Although, to be honest, the quotations do not exactly jump off the page at you.)

The Prince was written as guide to acquiring, using and retaining power for those who already had power. Later writers have had to amend Machiavelli’s principles for use in business, politics and one-upmanship. For example, in Chapter 3, “Concerning mixed Principalities” he writes

Upon this, one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.”

You will see that some lateral thinking is required to adapt this for dealing with, say, your business or political competitors, even if you think it seems quite useful as it stands.

Likewise, from Chapter 3 again:

From this a general rule is drawn which never or rarely fails: that he who is the cause of another becoming powerful is ruined; because that predominancy has been brought about either by astuteness or else by force, and both are distrusted by him who has been raised to power.”

This quite clearly advises you against helping anyone get to the top. Machiavelli would have found the mutual benefit principles of 21st century networking events decidedly odd.

Machiavelli’s “The Prince” is in bookshops and free on the internet. I can send you a PDF copy.

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