48 Laws of Power…Law 20: Do Not Commit to Anyone.
It is the fool who always rushes to take sides. Do not commit to any side or cause but yourself. By maintaining your independence, you become the master of others— playing people against one another, making them pursue you.
Once again, it must be observed that the laws from the ’48 Laws of Power’ sound almost evil. Callous (wicked) advice which appear manipulative.
Yet, there’s no doubting the fact that in business, nice guys finish last. You cannot wear your heart on your sleeves or remain totally open in your dealings with people. As an entrepreneur, you must keep a little of yourself back. Appear to be more than you are; in everything – appear to be more knowledgeable, more professional, more experienced, more patient, more comfortable, more trustworthy.
To do this effectively, an entrepreneur must embrace certain tactics with which to handle his relationships with customers, vendors, suppliers, and even those in authority – taxmen, police, bankers, and others.
So how does this tie in with Law 20? Law 20 advises that we keep our independence. Remain aloof in certain circles. Allow people come to you.
Now this doesn’t sound like a good idea when trying to attract customers, does it? Would it work within a union or group of traders or professionals? Yes, definitely.
Law 20 suggests that it is basic human nature to try to get the attention of the person who seems most uninterested in group activities.
Once this personality has been successfully built, it must then be put to good use. Draw power from the fact that people want your attention. You will be nominated into office or position for the very reason you shouldn’t – your aloofness!
But how can it be applied to customers? Imagine a dressmaker who refuses to be compared with others, but insists her designs are unique and remain hers only? She refuses to display in local fashion magazines because her dresses can only be understood and appreciated by a select few?
She is cleverly creating a niche (small but loyal following) by maintaining her independence. She has stepped out from the crowd and is attracting attention by her independence. In some cases, she may even refuse to take on some jobs just to show her uniqueness. It’s a dangerous game, but if well executed can bring unbelievable returns.
Or a wine/drinks seller who knows all about his products but refuses to recommend the ‘usual’ drinks by the usual vendors who pay for their brands to be pushed. Instead, he maintains his independence at the risk of losing out on discounts from wholesalers.
By so doing, he sends out a strong signal of objectivity and trustworthiness to his customers. A signal which says ‘come to me for objective assessments of your drinks budget for your events’. Suddenly, his seeming arrogance, if well played, becomes his selling point. And people will come.
OBJ is not the oldest or bravest or most honest Nigerian politician. But he has mastered the art of independence and is believed to ‘speak his mind’ when necessary. He is slow to take sides, and in spite of being a party chieftain, showed that in truth, he has no permanent friends.
He is therefore still the most sought after politician in the country today.