A Machiavellian Approach to Business and Relationships
What Can We Learn From “The Prince”
Lie: Lie to your parents, always throws the blame on somebody else, and never take responsibility for anything.
Exploit, Steal and swindle. Acquaintances? No more of that, we call them tools from now on, and if you’re not blackmailing people, you’re doing something wrong.
Trust? It doesn’t exist; enemies are everywhere. Help no one. Are their backs turned? Betray them; I don’t care if the answer is yes or no. Betray them.
Honesty? No, never talk about your feelings; manipulate people and convince yourself that you are in the right. Apologies are for chumps; declare victory instead.
And never forget, when your words fail, use violence, and never take no for an answer.
Hello, my name is Jason, and for some reason, I have no friends. Don’t worry about that. I’m here to talk about the advice of a particular political philosopher.
(Yeah, I know that introduction was crazy, but if you took any of that advice on board, you’re scum, you’re going to prison, you deserve it, and I will not be visiting you.)
There Are Things To Learn From Niccolo Machiavelli
Machiavellian conduct refers to the actions or motivations that align with the ruthless deeds of betrayal, deception, and crime endorsed by Niccolo Machiavelli, an Italian diplomat, author, and historian. Over time, his words left the impression of being evil recommendations to tyrants to aid them in keeping power. Others see it as a straightforward description of the immoral means used by evil rulers. Machiavelli thought that a ruler establishing or conquering a kingdom or state should be excused for evil deeds if the intentions or result is beneficial to him.
I feel like I’m too much of a nice person, and it stands in the way of me getting what I need and what I deserve in life. I don’t recommend taking on all of Machiavelli’s advice, but as I read more about his work, I can’t deny the validity and effectiveness of many of his ideas.
I looked for ideas and concepts that I could perhaps incorporate into my life; his book “the prince” really speaks volumes; It’s an extended analysis of how to acquire and maintain political power. It proclaims that the aims of the prince, i.e. glory and survival, justify the use of immoral tactics to achieve their goal.
I believe that every person should hold themselves in similar esteem as they would a prince or royalty. If a business leader should consider themselves a prince, their business should be treated as an asset they are ruling over.
Political philosophy isn’t just helpful in misleading the masses; it studies fundamental questions about the state, government, politics, justice, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority. If you look to become any leader or authority figure, the study of political philosophy will be helpful to you. Similarly, politics plays a part when governing your own life and interpersonal relationships.
Be Both Man and Beast and Ensure You Are Feared
Act like a calm, rational man with a clear mind and a beast with a desperate instinct to survive. Machiavelli thought that both mind frames were essential for a prince. There are two ways of ruling, one by law and the other by force. It’s all well and good to rule by compassion, but it will become insufficient.
The beast Machiavelli envisions is some messed up lion fox hybrid. The fox is sly and cunning, built for trickery and deception; the lion is mighty and strong, able to deter threats through the strength of its reputation alone. The fox can’t defend itself from wolves; the lion can’t protect itself from traps.
Diplomacy comes naturally to us; acting with a clear, rational mind is usually preferential. The beast doesn’t necessarily need to correspond to toxicity; I think its actual value is as a form of self-defence. It’s the beast that many of us struggle with; most would have you believe that this animalistic nature has no place in society, but they are wrong.
The wicked win because they are willing to act in ways the good are not. Although virtuous and respectful, principles limit the number of tools you have at your disposal. No one should be overly concerned with niceness; you will self-destruct.
Effective leaders are not the ones who are just honest, friendly and kind. It is the one who aims to defend and honour their objectives. Being nice is a good virtue, but what people need from their leaders is results. Whether you’re ruling over your own life or a corporate body, your only job as a prince is to ensure your asset’s prosperity and internal stability. You can’t be thought of as soft and easy to cross; this is where the element of fear comes into play. It would help if you weren’t evil to the point where you repulse society. Criminal virtue refers to the necessary ability of leaders to be cruel in the name of the state and still be good leaders.
A prince should not be afraid of appearing cruel or being feared. Respect is not enough; it won’t keep people from trying to deceive and manipulate you, but consequences will. If you want to keep subordinates in line, a healthy dose of fear and discipline will keep people in their place. You will be required to appear cruel to prevent a greater evil. You’re not doing any good if you allow evil deeds to occur because you want to appear nicer. Cruelty comes easier if you quickly learn to spot those who should be kept at arm’s length; it’s harder to act callously to a friend than to someone you hardly know, be careful who you let into your circle of trust. Still, be prepared to act cruelly to your friends or family if they show signs of toxicity that trouble you; some people are better cut off as soon as possible. Often, those closest to you end up getting too comfortable. You may have an employee you’ve grown fond of; sensing this, they’ve become lax and started breaking the rules, fire them.
In the context that Machiavelli is writing, being present is contrasted by ruling from a distance. You know that person who’s been put in a position of power, they’re never around, has no clue about what’s going on or what needs to be done; yet somehow they still think they are the MVP and has nothing to offer but criticism, don’t be that person.
A helpful leader is familiar with the ins and outs of their responsibilities; they will have some hands-on experience with the more trivial tasks instead of delegating the responsibility all of the time. By getting involved, you would be able to identify and address problems in a more efficient, timely manner.
In a corporate environment, you’d be in close contact with your employees; those who are helpful to you will want to prove themselves (in return for praise). Your presence alone is enough to motivate your followers or subordinates. Similarly, an authoritative presence is needed to discourage anyone who wants to engage in foul play or bend the rules.
Being absent will result in you only being aware of issues once they are too big to be easily solved. Being absent may cause your subordinates to question whether or not you are fit to lead.
There are likely people in your camp conspiring to 1-up, sabotage you, or even claim your authority for themselves. Mutiny is an open rebellion against the established leader. Being absent makes this process a lot easier; This also links well into the next point: be careful who you enable to have authority and influence over the things you intend to rule. Do not bring anyone else to power.
Never Bring Others To Power
You should be careful of those who have power over your assets, “he who causes another to become powerful ruins himself.” Did the previous owners of Tesla learn this the hard way? Tesla existed before Elon Musk and the two previous owners left because they were unhappy with how Musk was leading the company. Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning co-founded Tesla; Elon Musk seized power by investing a load of money into the company and was elected chairman.
This principle of not empowering others appears to be relevant to interpersonal relationships. Whether it’s your most precious resources like your time and mind or material assets like your money or house, you need to be careful about who you let have influence or control, as it can grant the wrong people power over you.
If you lend someone money, you’ve given them the power to run off with it. If you allow someone to live in your home, you’ve potentially granted them an opportunity to mooch off you. If you let other people control your mind and decision-making faculties; they have the power to manipulate and deceive you.
As a prince or princess, you should be comfortable denying people access to your resources, and you need to get better at picking who should be granted access. For all assets that you are responsible for ruling over, whether spiritual, emotional, material, or corporate, you must ensure that you hold the majority of the power and influence as you are solely responsible for their prosperity.
Destroy Do Not Wound
There are good and bad ways to be cruel; force and harsh decisive action may be required to reach a state of stability and peace of mind, and once secure, cruelties should be stopped to allow the situation to heal. Bad cruelties are repeated and messy; the suffering is endured for an unnecessary time.
If you need to take any action that results in physical or mental injury being afflicted, determine all those who deserve it and decide precisely what action needs to be taken; do your damage, make it count, and stop. If you act timidly, you’ll have to renew your cruelty as your point will fail to get across; Your repeated antagonising will constantly inflict fresh wounds increasing the likelihood of them turning on you.
In the modern-day, this piece of advice is very relevant for navigating interpersonal relationships. If you need to say something to someone, say it clearly and directly, regardless of how harsh it may seem. Going about a confrontation in a more timid way is likely to undermine the severity of the issue. If you need to set boundaries, make sure it is stated clearly and openly. Keep in mind that you are still responsible for safeguarding said person’s self-esteem and dignity; you shouldn’t violate these things for the sake of being honest. Even though Machiavelli is teaching you to destroy and not wound, im extrapolating these ideas to “be affirmative and not timid” to include non-violent acts.
Being transparent and decisive in your communication will quickly allow you to distinguish those who don’t understand from those who are not listening. If you inflict an injury once, the pain will be forgotten. Treat people well or destroy them, be clear and authoritative or remain silent.
Only Gather What You Can
It is natural for us to want to acquire power and the riches and admiration that come with it. Be careful, do not try and acquire what you cannot hold onto, and know your own limits. There is no harm in trying, but if you fail, criticism and blame will come your way, and you deserve it.
If you seek to acquire something, always use your own hands and don’t rely on or trust other people to take control of your responsibilities; this also links back to that theme of not empowering just anybody. You don’t want to risk your achievements being credited to someone else. If glory is what you seek to acquire, make sure you are in centre stage and the spotlight; thus, you receive full credit.
Don’t bite more than you can chew. If you fail to acquire something, the mockery and shame that follows will turn you into a pariah; it’ll make it difficult to align people to your side in the future. Vladimir Putin, the current leader of Russia, may want to consider Machiavelli’s insight. There is a war going on right now between Ukraine and Russia. Russia is the powerhouse; they have the firepower to win, but is winning worth it? By invading Ukraine, Russia angered the western alliance of Nato, resulting in a barrage of crippling economic sanctions aiming to drain Russia of its resources and military budget. If Putin undoubtedly knew that the invasion would result in large-scale economic isolation and collapse, would he have thought twice?