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Do Not Commit To Anyone

It is the fool, who always rushes to take sides. Do not commit to any side or cause but yourself. By maintaining your independence, you become the master of others - playing people against one another, making them pursue you.
The Price of Envy - While a poor woman stood in the market place selling cherries, a cat came along and carried off a cheese. A dog saw the theft and tried to take the cheese away from him. The cat stood up to the dog. So, they pitched into each other. The dog barked and snapped; the cat spat and scratched; but they could bring the battle to no decision. "Let's go to the fox and have him referee the matter," the cat suggested. "Agreed," said the dog. So, they went to the fox. The fox listened to their arguments, with a judicious air. "Foolish animals," he chided them, "why carry on like that? If both of you are willing, I'll divide the cheese in two and you'll both be satisfied." "Agreed," said the cat and the dog. So the fox took out his knife and cut the cheese in two, but, instead of cutting it lengthwise, he cut it in the width. "My half is smaller," protested the dog. The fox looked judiciously at the dog's share. "You are quite right!" decided the fox. So he went around and bit off a piece of the cat's share. "That will make it even!" he said. When the cat saw what the fox did, she began to yowl, "Look! My part is smaller, now." he fox again looked judiciously at the cat's share. "Right you are!" said the fox. "Just a moment and I'll make it right." And, he bit off a piece of the dog's share. This went on and on, until the fox ate the entire cheese.

Since power depends greatly on appearances, you must learn the techniques which will enhance your image. Refusing to commit to a person or group is one of these. When you hold yourself back, you incur not anger but a kind of respect. You seem powerful because you make yourself ungraspable, rather than succumbing to the group., or to the relationship, as most people do. This aura of power grows with time. As your reputation for independence grows, more and more people will come to desire you, wanting to be the one who gets you to commit. Desire is like a virus. If we see that someone is desired by other people, we tend to find this person desireable, also.

The moment you commit, the magic is gone. You become like everyone else. People will try all kinds of methods to get you to commit. They will give you gifts, shower you with favors, all to put you under obligation. Encourage their attention, stimulate their interest, but do not commit. Accept the gifts and favors but be careful to maintain your aloofness. You can not allow yourself to feel obligated to anyone.

The goal is not to put people off, or to make it seem that you are incapable of commitment. Like Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, you need to stir the pot, excite interest, lure people with the possibility of having you. You need to bend to their attention occasionally, but never too far.

The Greek soldier and statesman, Alcibiades, played this game to perfection. It was Alcibiades, who inspired and led the massive Athenian armada, which invaded Sicily, in 414 B.C. When envious Athenians tried to bring him down on trumped up charges, he defected to the enemy, the Spartans. Then after the Athenians were defeated at Syracuse, he left Sparta for Persia, even though the power of Sparta was on the rise. Now, both the Athenians and Spartans courted Alcibiades, because of his influence with the Persians. The Persians showered him with honors because of his power over the Athenians and Spartans. He made promises to every side but committed to none and in the end, he held all the cards.

If you aspire to power and influence, try the Alcibiades tactic. Put yourself in the middle, between competitors. Lure one side with the promise of your help. The other side will pursue you, as well. As each side vies for your attention, you will seem to be a person of great influence. More power will accrue to you than if you had committed to either side.

In France's July Revolution of 1830, after three days of riots, the elderly statesman Talleyrand sat by his window listening to the bells which signalled that the riots were done. Turning to an assistant, he said, "Ah, the bells. We are winning." "Who is 'we', my prince?" asked the assistant. Talleyrand repled, "I'll tell you who 'we' are, tomorrow." Talleyrand knew that only fools rush into a situation - that by committing too quickly one loses one's maneuverability. Alos, people will tend to respect you less, since they may think you change sides too quickly. Commitment to one side deprives you of the advantages of time and the luxury of waiting.

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