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Categories: Inspiration

Can You Safely Outshine the Master?

Person 1: “Wow, you did an excellent job on this presentation. I have never seen such good work!”

You:  “Thanks for the compliment. You know my superior ABC provided an excellent example on how to do this work.”

By giving the insecure superior a compliment as you accept your compliment you give that person an opportunity to shine and be part of your success. This type of response makes it less necessary for your superior to feel a need to swat at you or harm your success.  Dealing with an insecure superior is not an ideal situation for any worker with ambition and a good work ethic. After all, no one wants to be subject to the whims of a jealous, insecure and glory hogging superior, sometimes it is a situation that cannot be avoided. If you find yourself in such a circumstance, you must learn to use power judiciously so that you can remain employed as long as you like.

While Greene’s law of power states you should never outshine your superior, on occasion it is necessary or even impossible to avoid. For example, if your superior is an incompetent person, it may be impossible for you to do your job without outshining the superior. People who do not do well when they are outshined have insecurities and jealousies that have nothing to do with you. If you were not present for them to complain about or cast their wrath upon, they would find someone else. In that case you must learn to make the superior feel secure in all your actions. Do not be dismayed at this prospect. After all, the skills you learn in dealing with this type of superior will help you better manage your interactions customers, co-workers, friends and family members.



In the long run, it will be difficult to work with a superior who cannot be outshined without becoming angry and vindictive. If you have such a superior that you must deal with on a regular basis  you will have to decide whether to work with deceit as in Greene’s rule of power or whether to arrange to work someplace without the objectionable superior. The choice is yours to make.

Here is a complete listing of the laws of power ( https://janeanesworld.com/10940-2/) in case you are not familiar with them.

Law 1 Never Outshine the Master

Law 2 Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends, Learn to Use Enemies

Law 3 Conceal Your Intentions

Law 4 Always say less than necessary related posts

Law 5 So much depends on reputation – guard it with your life

Law 6 Court attention at all costs

Law 7 Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit

Law 8 – Make other people come to you – use bait if necessary

Law 9 – Win through your actions, never through argument

Law 10 – Infection: avoid the unhappy and unlucky

Law 11 – Learn to keep people dependent on you

Law 12 – Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim

Law 13 – When asking for help, appeal to people’s self interest, never to their mercy or gratitude

Law 14 – Pose as a friend, work as a spy

Law 15 – Crush your enemy totally

Law 16 – Use absence to increase respect and honor

Law 17 – Keep others in suspended terror: cultivate an air of unpredictability

Law 18 – Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself – Isolation is Dangerous

Law 19 – Know who you’re dealing with – do not offend the wrong person

Law 20 – Do not commit to anyone

Law 21 – Play a sucker to catch a sucker – seem dumber than your mark

Law 22 – Use the surrender tactic – transform weakness into power

Law 23 – Concentrate your forces

Law 24 – Play the perfect courtier

Law 25 – Re-create yourself

Law 26 – Keep your hands clean

Law 27 – Play on people’s need to believe to create a cult like following

Law 28 – Enter action with boldness

Law 29 – Plan all the way to the end

Law 30 – Make your accomplishments seem effortless

Law 31 – Control the options: get others to play with the cards you deal

Law 32 – Play to people’s fantasies

Law 33 – Discover each man’s thumbscrew

Law 34 – Be royal in your own fashion: act like a king to be treated like one

Law 35 – Master the art of timing

Law 36 – Disdain things you cannot have: ignoring them is the best revenge

Law 37 – Create compelling spectacles

Law 38 – Think as you like but behave like others

Law 39 – Stir up waters to catch fish

Law 40 – Despise the free lunch

Law 41 – Avoid stepping into a great man’s shoes

Law 42 – Strike the shepherd and the sheep wll scatter

Law 43 – Work on the hearts and minds of others

Law 44 – Disarm and infuriate with the mirror effect

Law 45 – Preach the need for change, but never reform too much at once

Law 46 – Never appear too perfect

Law 47 – Do not go past the mark you aimed for; in victory learn when to stop

Law 48 – Assume formlessness

If you would like to read other articles on power and how to use it, check out the following:

Introduction to the “48 Laws of Power”


Power – What Is It Good For


Power – It Doesn’t Have to Be a Bad Thing



In the best of all worlds, is able to work, do one’s best and shine at all one endeavors. However, life is not always the best of all possible worlds. Sometimes, we live in a world where we must shine only carefully and under threat of retaliation. In your world, have you ever had to hold back on your shine to avoid angering a superior?

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Janeane Davis

View Comments

  • My sister started a new job and was recently upset because a co-worker who was trying to train her was not doing her job. She was withholding valuable information about the processes to prevent my sister from possibly getting ahead.

  • It can be hard when you work under people who aren't that compensating and kind. Thankfully most of the people I've worked with have bene very generous and reasonable.

  • When you focus on outshining someone, your focus is in the wrong place. I believe that's why the rule is there. If you focus on shining yourself and not stealing the light of someone else's candle, everyone can shine. There is a place for everyone in this world.

  • I think we need to be the best we can be. We can outshine someone but with subtlety and humility. That way, everyone's happy.

  • Situations like this make me glad I can work from home. It's hard to work for someone who is power hungry!

  • That is a great reminder, you always share the best posts and information. I appreciate it and needed to read this!

  • I am so thankful I work for myself from home, I don't think I could handle some of the office setting stuff. This can also be applied to so many other aspects of life situations as well.

  • I have an office job and I feel this daily. Sometimes I feel like us office workers are forgotten but guess what? If werent there the masters would be so lost! ;) Powerful to remind them that sometimes in the most professional way possible! HA!

  • I've never thought of this, but I surely know some people who can't stand for someone 'under' them to have the best idea. It's always best to accept another's best!

  • Oh this was so true at my last job. It was not fun work environment to say the least. Other places I worked weren't like this, they truly wanted everyone to succeed.

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