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Never Put too much Trust in Friends, Learn How To Use Enemies

Be wary of friends - they will betray you more quickly, for they are easily aroused to envy. They also become spoiled and tyrannical. But hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove. In fact, you have more to fear from your friends than from enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make some.

It is natural to want to employ your friends, when you find yourself in times of need. The world is a harsh place and your friends soften the harshness. Besides, you know them. Why depend on a stranger when you have a friend at hand?

King Hiero chanced upon a time, speaking to one of his enemies, to be told that he had stinking breath. Whereupon, the good king, being somewhat dismayed at himself, as soon as he returned home, chided his wife, "How does it happen that you never told me of this problem?" The wife, being a simple, chaste, and harmless dame, said,"Sir, I thought that all men's breath smelled, so." Thus it is plain that faults, which are evident to the senses, gross and corporal, or otherwise notorious to the world, we know by our enemies sooner than by our friends and families. - Plutarch, c. 46 - 120 AD

The difficulty is that you often do not know your friends, as well as you imagine. Friends often agree on things, in order to avoid an argument. They cover up their unpleasant qualities, so as to not offend each other. They laugh extra hard at each other's jokes. Since honesty rarely strengthens friendship, you may never know how a friend truly feels. Friends will say that they love your poetry, adore your music, envy your taste in clothes - perhaps they mean it, often they do not.

When you decide to hire a friend, you gradually discover the qualities he or she has kept hidden. Strangely enough, it is your act of kindness, which unbalances everything. People want to feel that they deserve their good fortune. The receipt of a favor can become oppressive: It means you have been chosen because you are a friend, not necessarily because you are deserving. There is almost a touch on condescension in the act of hiring friends that secretly afflicts them.

The problem with employing or hiring friends is that it will inevitably limit your power. The friend is rarely the one who is most able to help you; and in the end, skill and competence are more important than friendly feelings.

All working situations require a kind of distance between people. You are trying to work, not make friends; friendliness, real or false, obscures that fact. The key to power is the ability to judge who is best able to further your interests, in all situations.

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit, because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure. - Tacitus, c.55 - 120A.D.

Your enemies, on the other hand, are an untapped gold mine that you must learn to exploit. When Talleyrand, Napolean's Foreign Minister, decided in 1807 that his boss was leading France into ruin, and the time had come to turn against him, he understood the dangers of conspiring against the emperor; he needed a partner, a confederate - What friend could he trust in such a project? He chose Fouché, head of the secret police, his most hated enemy, a man who had tried to have him assassinated. He knew that their former hatred would create an opportunity for an emotional reconciliation.

Knowing what would happen if you put a finger in the mouth of a lion, you would stay clear of it. With friends, you will have no such caution, and if you hire them, they will eat you alive with ingratitude.
He knew that Fouché would expect nothing from him, and in fact would work to prove that he was worth of Talleyrand's choice; a person who has something to prove will move mountains for you. Finally, he knew that his relationship with Fouché would be based on mutual self-inteest, and would not be contaminated by personal feeling. The selection proved perfect; although the conspirators did not succeed in toppling Napolean, the union of such powerful but unlikely partners generated much interest in the cause; opposition to the Emperor slowly began to spread. And, from then on, Talleyrand and Fouché had a fruitful working relationship. Whenever you can, bury the hatchet with an enemy, and make a point of putting him in your service.

Know how to use your enemies for your own profit. You must learn to grab a sword not by its blade, which could cut you, but by the handle, which allows you to defend yourself. The wise man profits more from his enemies than a fool from his friends. - Baltasar Gracian, 1601 - 1658 Never let the presence of enemies upset or distress you - you are better off with a declared opponent or two than not knowing where your enemies lie. The man of power welcomes conflict, using enemies to enhance his reputation as a sure-footed fighter, who can be relied upon in times of uncertainty.

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