TO succeed in the game of power, you have to master your emotions. But even if you succeed in gaining such self-control, you can never control the temperamental disposition of those around you.
And this presents a great danger. Most people operate in a whirlpool of emotions, constantly reacting, churning up squabbles and conflicts.
Your self-control and autonomy will only bother and infuriate them. They will try to draw you into the whirlpool, begging you to take sides in their endless battles or to make peace for them. If you succumb to their emotional entreaties, little by little, you will find your mind and time occupied by their problem.
Do not allow whatever compassion and pity you posses to lure you in. you can never win in this game, the conflict can only multiply.
To play the game properly you must seem interested in other people’s problems; even sometimes appear to take their side. But while you make outward gestures of support, you must maintain your inner energy and sanity by keeping your emotions disengaged. No mater how hard people try to pull you in never let your interest in their affairs and petty squabbles go beyond the surface.
Give them gifts, listen with a sympathetic look, even occasionally play the charmer, but inwardly, keep both inwardly, keep both the friendly kings and the Perfidious Borgias at arm’s length. By refusing to commit and thus, maintaining your autonomy, you retain the initiative. Your moves stay matters of your own choosing, not defensive reactions to the push-and-pull of those around you.
Slowness to pick up your weapon itself, especially, if you let other people exhaust themselves fighting, then take advantage of their exhaustion. Holding back allows you time to position yourself to take advantage of the situation, once one side starts to love. You can also, play the game a step further, by promising your support to both sides in a conflict while maneuvering, so that, the one to come out ahead in the struggle is you.
Preserving your autonomy gives you options when people come to blows, you can play the mediator, broker the peace while really securing your own interests. You can pledge support to one side and the other may have to court you with a higher bid. Or like Castruccio, you can appear to take both sides, then play the antagonists against each other.
Oftentimes, when a conflict breaks out, you are tempted to side with the stronger party on the one that offers you apparent advantages in an alliance. This is risky business. First, it is often difficult to foresee which side will prevail in the long run. But even if you guess right and ally yourself with the stronger party you may find yourself swallowed up and lost or conveniently forgotten, when they become victors. Side with the weaker, on the other hand and you are doomed. But play a waiting game and you cannot lose.
There are occasions when it is wisest to drop all pretence of appearing supportive and instead to trumpet your independence and self reliance. The aristocratic rose of independence is particularly, important for those who need to gain respect. George Washington recognized this in his work to establish the young American Republic on firm ground. As president, Washington avoided temptation of making an alliance with France or England, despite the pressure on him to do so.
He wanted the country to earn the world’s respect, through its independence. Although, a treaty with France might have helped the short term, in the long run, he knew it would have to see the United States as an equal power.
Remember you have only so much energy and so much time. Every moment wasted on the affairs of others subtracts from your strength. You may be afraid that people will condemn you as heartless, but in the end, maintaining your independence and self-reliance will gain you more respect and place you in a position of power from which you can choose to help others on your own initiative.
Men of great abilities are slow to act, for it is easier to avoid occasions for committing yourself than to come well out of a commitment. Such occasions test your judgment. It is safer to avoid them than to emerge victorious from them. One obligation leads to a greater one and you come very near to the brink of disaster.
The key will be to maintain your inner independence, to keep yourself from getting emotionally involved, preserve the unspoken option of being able to leave at any moment and reclaim your freedom if the side you are allied with starts to collapse. The friends you made while you were being courted will give you plenty of places to go once you jump ship.
The virgin Queen, the centre of attention, desire and worship, never succumbing to one suitor or the other, the virgin queen keeps them all revolving around her like planets, unable to leave her orbit but never getting any closer to her.
Stay aloof and people will come to you. It will become a challenge for them to win your affections. As long as you imitate the wise virgin Queen and stimulate their hopes, you will remain a magnet of attention and desire.
Do not commit yourself to anybody or anything, for that is to be a slave, a slave to everyman. Above all keep yourself of commitments and obligations; they are the device of another to get into his power.
Elizabeth had good reason to marry. She had witnessed the mistakes of Mary Queen of Scots, her cousin. Resisting the idea of being ruled by a woman, the Scots expected Mary to marry and marry wisely. To wed a foreigner would be unpopular, to favour any particular noble house would open up terrible rivalries. In the end, Mary chose Lord Darnley, a Catholic. In doing so, she incurred the wrath of Scotland’s Protestants and endless turmoil ensued.
Elizabeth knew that marriage can often lead a female ruler’s undoing. By marrying and committing to an alliance with one party or nation, the queen becomes embroiled in conflicts that are not of her choosing, conflicts which may eventually overwhelm her or lead her into a futile war. Also, the husband becomes the defacto ruler and often tries to do away with his wife the queen, as Darnley tried to get rid of Mary.
Elizabeth learned the lesson well. She had two goats as a ruler, to avoid marriage and to avoid war. She managed to combine these goals by dangling the possibility of marriage in order to forge alliances. The moment she committed to any single suitor would have been the moment she lost her power.
She had to emanate mystery and desirability, never discouraging any one’s hopes but never yielding.
Through this life long game of flirting and withdrawing, Elizabeth dominated the country and every man who sought to conquer her. As the centre of attention, she was in control. Keeping independence above all. Elizabeth protected her power and made herself an object of worship
“I would rather be a beggar and single, than a queen and married.” (Queen Elizabeth, 1, 1533-1603).
If you allow people to feel they posses you to any degree, you lose all power over them. By not committing your affections, they will only try harder to win you over. Stay aloof and you gain power that comes from their attention and frustrated desire. Play the virgin Queen. Give them hope but never satisfaction.
Peace and joy.