In Law 38, “Think as You Like But Behave Like Others,” from Robert Greene’s ‘The 48 Laws of Power,’ we explore the delicate art of balancing independent thinking with societal expectations. This law advises individuals to strategically choose when to express their unconventional ideas and when to blend in with the crowd. By nurturing the common touch while preserving their uniqueness, individuals can foster acceptance, avoid punishment, and navigate the complexities of social dynamics and power.
The Power of Conformity:
Conformity plays a significant role in society. People are more likely to accept and respect those who adhere to societal norms and expectations. Law 38 acknowledges this reality and suggests that, in certain situations, it is wiser to behave like others to avoid drawing negative attention or being seen as a threat. By conforming to social norms, individuals can build bridges, gain acceptance, and establish rapport with others.
While conforming to societal expectations, it is crucial to retain your uniqueness and independent thinking. Law 38 encourages individuals to cultivate their distinctiveness within the boundaries of acceptability. This delicate balance allows you to stand out in ways that are appreciated and admired, rather than appearing as an outsider or attention-seeker. By sharing your originality selectively with tolerant friends and those who appreciate your uniqueness, you can maintain authenticity without alienating others.
Throughout history, many individuals have exemplified the art of thinking as they like but behaving like others. One such example is Benjamin Franklin, a polymath known for his wit, intellect, and unconventional ideas. Franklin understood the importance of conforming to social norms and behaving like others when necessary. His ability to blend in and nurture the common touch allowed him to establish valuable connections and exert influence over others, all while maintaining his distinct identity as a free thinker.
Another example is Mahatma Gandhi, a transformative leader in India’s independence movement. Gandhi strategically blended in with the masses and lived a simple life to connect with the common people. By embracing their struggles, customs, and way of life, Gandhi gained their trust and inspired millions to follow his nonviolent path to liberation. His ability to think independently while behaving like others fostered a powerful connection with the masses and facilitated his influential leadership.
Law 38 reminds us of the importance of balancing independent thinking with conformity to navigate social dynamics and power effectively. By selectively blending in with others and nurturing the common touch, individuals can foster acceptance, avoid punishment, and establish connections. Historical examples illustrate how great thinkers and leaders strategically employed this law to gain influence and inspire change. In the next blog post, we will delve into Law 39, which explores the strategic use of stirring up waters to catch fish. Stay tuned for more insights into the timeless laws of power.