Leadership

Outshining the master? The best way to make it discreet

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Everyone has insecurities. When you show yourself in the world and display your talents, you naturally stir up all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity. This is to be expected. You cannot spend your life worrying about the petty feelings of others. With those above you, however, you must take a different approach: when it comes to power, outshining the master is perhaps the worst mistake of all.

 It is a deadly but common misperception to believe that by displaying and vaunting your gifts and talents, you are winning the master’s affection. He may feign appreciation, but at his first opportunity, he will replace you with someone less intelligent, less attractive, less threatening.

First, you can inadvertently outshine a master simply by being yourself. There are masters who are more insecure than others, monstrously insecure; you may naturally outshine them by your charm and grace.

Second, never imagine that because the master loves you, you can do anything you want. 
Your status is only secure to the point your master is secure that they are better than you. Always leave them with this feeling. No matter what.

Knowing the dangers of outshining your master, you can turn this Law to your advantage. First, you must flatter and puff up your master. Overt flattery can be effective but has its limits; it is too direct and obvious and looks bad to other courtiers. Discreet flattery is much more powerful. If you are more intelligent than your master, for example, seem the opposite. Make him appear more intelligent than you. Act naive. Make it seem that you need his expertise. Commit harmless mistakes that will not hurt you in the long run but will give you the chance to ask for his help. Masters adore such requests. A master who cannot bestow on you the gifts of his experience may direct rancor and ill will at you instead.