There is a book in C's collection of business literature called "The 48 Laws of Power". She didn't actually buy it herself: the inscription at the front tells me that she was given it after attending some high-powered development course for senior executives. Sounds about right. Anyway. According to the author, Robert Greene, "Learning the game of power requires a certain way of looking at the world, a shifting of perspective. It takes effort and years of practice, for much of the game may not come naturally. Certain basic skills are required, and once you master these skills you will be able to apply the laws of power more easily."
OK, so I know that C. has the kind of job where this sort of thing might be important, but why on earth is she showing it to me?
NEVER OUTSHINE THE MASTER.
Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please and impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the opposite - inspire fear and insecurity. Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power.
There are apparently 48 laws of power. This is law 1. Presumably, if you follow no other law, you must follow this one. It is the beginning; the starting-point.
Let's be honest, I struggle with this law. Not only do I struggle with this law, but I feel under absolutely no obligation to obey it either: I will treat the people above me the same way as I do everyone else. In fact, if anything, I'm more demanding of them. I certainly will not go out of my way to make my 'masters' (WTF?) feel 'comfortably superior'. Why on earth would anyone who isn't desperately insecure need that sort of validation?
I do not work in a vacuum and I tend to have the view that it is my job to create an environment amongst the people around me that will enable us all to achieve success together. I also think that if more of my 'masters' felt the same way and behaved accordingly, then law 1 wouldn't need to exist at all. In fact, I'd go as far as to suggest that law 1 has got it the wrong way around entirely.
Yes, I know I'm self-righteous, and that this is part of the problem, but if this is law 1, then I have to say that I'm not really very interested in the other 47 laws. It appears that if this is the game of power, then I'm not playing.
....And thus my brilliant career is explained.