• Wed. Dec 7th, 2022

Janeane's World

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Can You Safely Outshine the Master?

first law of power www.janeanesworld.com


When ordinary business people think of power they often think that power has nothing to do with then or their business operations. This could not be farther from the truth. No matter what business you are in and no matter what your industry, power matters. One idea that you must look at when dealing with power is can you safely outshine a superior?


The first law of power  is  “Never Outshine the Master.” My question is, why not?

The first of Robert Greene’s laws of power is, never outshine the master. When explaining this principle, Greene talked about Nicolas Fouquet who was King Louis XIV’s finance manager. Fouquet had a beautiful home and staged an impressive party to celebrate the completion of his home and to pay tribute to the king. King Louis XIV wanted to be the center of attention and thought of as great. According to Greene, he could not share the limelight or be outdone by another. So, instead of being flattered by Fouquet, he was threatened and had Fouquet placed in jail, in solitary confinement for the rest of his life.

When analyzing the idea of never outstanding the master,  and how to apply it in your life or if it applies to your life, take time to objectively look at who you are and the people with whom you work. Is the superior in question the kind of person who gets upset when someone else is praised? Does she get angry when others get noticed for their accomplishments? If the answer to these  two questions is yes, this is a superior who will not be happy to see you prosper at work. This is not a position in which you will be able to simply work to the best of your abilities, grow and shine without political cost. With a superior like this, you will need to learn how to work to your best efforts and make the superior feel safe at the same time.

If you are dealing with superior who is insecure and cannot abide by the success of others, perhaps it is a good idea not to outshine that person. It is stifling to work under a person who hates you for your success. With this type of superior whenever you do well, the superior is unhappy and feels insulted. In this case you must walk a careful line because you must do a good job and at the same time you do not want to irritate the insecure superior. WIth this kind of person, it is best to look at the big picture and think long-range. This means you may have to find a place to work with a different superior. In the meantime, look for ways to make the superior feel secure, at ease and not threatened by you and your good work.


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However, if you have a supervisor who is secure in who she is and her place in the universe you do not have to hide your light under a barrel and can shine with all your might. When it comes to the idea that one should never outshine the master, one should keep in mind the importance of knowing your place in the universe. If your superior celebrates  when you receive praise and even freely praises others, she will not harm you if she is outshined. If your superior works to share the accomplishments of others, she will not be angry when you accomplish good and wonderful things at work. With this type of superior you will be able to work to your best efforts, shine and succeed without fear. When your superior is secure, you do not need to practice deceit, but can safely put forth best efforts. Do not make practicing deceit a habit. It is a dangerous one that is harder to get out of than one might imagine.



Even when your superior at work or in business is insecure and will punish you for shining, it is still possible to shine. One way to do it is to compliment your superior each time you are praised or complimented.  Look at the following scenario for example.

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14 thoughts on “Can You Safely Outshine the Master?”
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. Great info, it is a challenge to work with a personality that is insecure and power hungry. Through each lesson, we learn great tools. Thanks for this

  12. I can remember this when I had an office job. IT can be challenging especially if you are right about something and they refuse to listen.

  13. Thank you for the reminder that I can be my best self regardless of the situation. Encouragement, praise and compliment help each party feel important and give each a sense of self worth.

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