Let me, as strongly as I can, recommend that you listen to Ian Richardson’s reading of Machiavelli’s The Prince. His mordant performance is a standout, bringing complete clarity to Machiavelli’s already crystalline thinking. If you work in a corporation – any business actually, or are on a board or in any organization where there is power to be competed for and control to be held on to, you will immediately recognize the applicability of the tactics and strategies. Your quest for control over your own situation will be inspired – things will become very clear.
The Prince is not a high-flown theory of politics, or a Weltanschauung; it is a how-to book about power: how to get it and how to keep it. It is a very, very practical instruction manual.
I don’t encourage you to check your own morality at the door as you absorb the advice. I am even recommending you listen to Richardson’s reading as entertainment – which it certainly is. What you take from it and how it changes your behavior will be between you and your god.
Here are seven quotes to whet your appetite; if you want the down and dirty of the how-to, then you should listen for yourself.
- “The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.”
- “The vulgar crowd always is taken by appearances, and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar.”
- “It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.” “Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.”
- “For, besides what has been said, it should be borne in mind that the temper of the multitude is fickle, and that while it is easy to persuade them of a thing, it is hard to fix them in that persuasion”
- “A prudent man will always try to follow in the footsteps of great men and imitate those who have been truly outstanding, so that, if he is not quite as skillful as they, at least some of their ability may rub off on him.”
- “For he who innovates will have for his enemies all those who are well off under the existing order of things, and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new.”