This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The 48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.
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Overview of Law #23: Concentrate Your Forces
Conserve your resources and energies by concentrating your forces where you’ll get the most benefit. Concentrate on mining the richest mine rather than a whole string of mines.
Principles of Law 23
People often feel distracted and pulled in many directions, which undercuts their energy and effectiveness at whatever they’re trying to accomplish. The key is to prioritize your goals and concentrate your forces.
The same is true when it comes to wielding power: Concentrate single-mindedly on your key goal and you’ll achieve it because your efforts and resources won’t be diluted.
When Casanova was imprisoned, he focused single-mindedly on escape. Even when he was moved to a new cell after months of secretly digging, he didn’t give up but persevered and finally escaped.
According to Law 23 of the 48 Laws of Power, whether you hold a position of power or are striving for power, you’ll need assistance from people more powerful than you. If you concentrate your forces on wooing your best prospect rather than appealing to a host of potential allies, your chances of success will be greater, and you’ll save energy and resources.
The scientist Nikola Tesla tried to stay independent rather than seeking a strong source of support, and he wore himself out groveling to many sources. By contrast, Michaelangelo thrived under one patron, Pope Julius II, as did Galileo with the Medicis.
In organizations where you want to have influence, you need to figure out who’s pulling the strings, and concentrate on influencing that person.
Putting Law 23 to Work
Here is an example of how to apply Law 23 of the 48 Laws of Power: In ancient times, many a kingdom or empire fell when it expanded too broadly and increased its vulnerability. It happened to Rome and Athens: They could no longer protect themselves on all fronts, and came under multiple attacks.
By contrast, the Rothschild banking family, a global power that started in the Jewish ghetto of Frankfort, Germany, thrived due to a strategy of concentration and cohesion. They excluded outsiders (only family members controlled the business), their operation was impenetrable, and they lived by their founder’s advice to avoid diffusion, dissension, and division. One family member described their business as functioning like a watch, with the internal parts moving together invisibly.
While other powerful families eventually disintegrated, the Rothchilds protected and expanded their wealth because they knew to concentrate your forces.
Exceptions to Law 23
Are there any exceptions to Law 23 of the 48 Laws of Power? Should you ever not concentrate your forces? There are several downsides to concentrating your effort.
- Sometimes concentration is dangerous. When you’re weaker than your opponent, it may be better to disperse your forces (that’s how guerrilla warfare works). Concentrating your forces makes you a clearer target.
- Similarly, focusing solely on an alliance with one person leaves you in trouble when the person dies or falls from power. In turbulent times, make sure you have more than one ally.
But in general, it’s best to follow Law 23 of the 48 Laws of Power: Concentrate Your Forces.
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One thought on “Law 23: Concentrate Your Forces (48 Laws of Power)”
I have a real life use case for this. The law of surrender worked for me so far.
I would be interested in a conversation around this topic.