Never Outshine the Master – A Complete Guide on the Law of Power

Never Outshine the Master

Do you agree that at some point in our lives, we all wish for power? Undoubtedly, it is a natural human desire to seek power and have some sort of control over other’s lives. But one should never outshine the master.

Power is the one thing that appeals to man the most despite other leisures of the world. According to scientific research, people will still desire power even if they have enough money and status. 

Acquiring power or influence is easier, but maintaining it in the long run requires wisdom. That’s exactly what Robert Greene discusses in his first law when writing the book The 48 Laws of Power. Let’s delve deeper to learn what this law holds for us. 

Understanding the Meaning Behind Never Outshine the Master

The first law of power states that “Never Outshine the Master.” What does it actually mean? The simple concept behind this law is you should never outplay your superiors or people in the higher ranks. 

Whether working in a corporate office, with a higher rank lieutenant, or with your boss, this principle applies to all work fields. The general rule of thumb is not to jump or showcase your expertise in front of your boss if you want to maintain your status in the team. Besides this, here are some accepted reasons showing it’s a worst mistake to outshine your master: 

  • Outshining will make your master feel insecure and threatened by your talents or expertise. 
  • It will put your position in danger as the master will soon find ways to replace you with someone less intelligent than you. 
  • You will ultimately lose your previous power and return with nothing in hand if you try to overshadow your master. 

How to Never Outshine the Master?

At this point, you’ve wholly acknowledged the main strategy behind the first law of power: “Never Outshine the Master.” But how to avoid doing it is still unclear. Relax; discussed below are five vital tips on how to never outshine the master. Let’s roll over them one by one. 

1. Act Dumb, Play Smart

The first and simple tip is to play a fool game. Always pretend you’re less intelligent and thus have limited knowledge than your master. This means you should learn to cover your talents in a way that does not harm you and doesn’t make your boss question his expertise. Similarly, remember to ask your master for help even if you don’t need it. People in power like to share their life experiences and learnings with their inferiors. 

2. Give Credit

Another common but constructive tip is giving credit to your master for every work, whether small or large. People at higher ranks love recognition, so when you applaud them publicly, you indirectly save your power as a precious group member. Even if your work strategy or idea was more innovative, learn to accept the social dynamics and praise the master when required. 

3. Advise in Private

Many times, it happens that you disagree with your master’s plan. In such a situation, a wise step is to present your own ideas or advice in a one-to-one private conversation. Doing so will keep you in the safe zone and put a positive impression on the master. 

Students more often make this mistake and end up losing their instructors’ care and genuine affection. For instance, if a certain student surpasses the master by giving unnecessary explanations, he is definitely making the teacher less intellectual in front of the whole class. 

4. Show Respect

On top of all the tips and tricks discussed so far, the most important one is showing respect for your master. It includes listening to his instructions without interrupting him in between. It also includes following the orders as instructed by the authority leader. This gratitude and support for the master is the key to sustainable collaboration by maintaining your power status. 

5. Centre of Attention 

Last but not least, making your master the center of attention is undeniably the best trick you can adopt to avoid outshining your senior. Everyone loves to be the talk of the town. In the same way, your master will give more value to you if you push him forward among common people. If you have a greater sense of humor than your boss, you can even tell jokes and create a positive environment for the benefit of your master and yourself. Thus, it is a win-win situation for both of you. 

Practical Example of Nicolas Fouquet

If you don’t follow the tips mentioned above, you can end up just like the superintendent of France, Nicolas Fouquet. You might be wondering what Fouquet did and what happened to his power as a superintendent of Finances. Well, he did not know the law of power, “Never Outshine the Master,” and tried to outperform his King. He made influential contacts in Brittany without informing King Louis XIV.

Not only this, but Fouquet also made superior-ranked friends in Brittany. With their help, he started many construction projects behind the back of his King. Although intelligent, witty, and decisive, he outperformed his King, resulting in his downfall. In return, he got arrested, and another less intelligent superintendent was placed in his position. 


To summarize, The 48 Laws of Power is undoubtedly an impactful book, with each rule stating facts and reality on how to use your power and status. Books like this have always significantly affected human behavior and his perceptions about how the power game works. So far, we have discussed only the first law of power from this book, which means plenty of helpful information needs our attention. 

If this law of power inspires you and you are interested in more books about wisdom and critical thinking, Sprout is the perfect storybook for you. It talks about philosophical adventure and is designed for children to find their true potential. The eye-catching visuals and mysteries will take you to another level of self-discovery. Don’t wait further; order it now from Amazon, Barnes or Noble. 


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