Have you ever read The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli? If you haven’t yet, you should. It has value far and wide. It goes down in history as the world first political science textbook. It was written by Machiavelli in 1513 after his time of service to the Florentine Republic from 1498 – 1512.
In it he distilled all the wisdom and lessons he’d gleaned from the political powerhouses of the time that surrounded him. The current use of the word Machiavellian as not only an adjective to describe a person with no morals, but also as a school of thought where cunning and deception is promoted, shows that his wisdom is gleaned from a violent and unstable time.
Despite the origin of the ends justify the means mentality, what other value does this book provide?
The answer? Immense!
1. Insight into People
Now, none of us was raised in 15th and 16th century Italy. But, one of our characters may have been. Or one of our characters in a modern time may be from a violent and duplicitous family/tribe/country/whatever. This book not only gives you insights into how a person raised under that environment might behave, but also the state of their environment.
The understanding gleaned from this book can give you the insight necessary to flesh out a large portion of your very own story, and that’s never a bad thing.
2. Gives You a Business Edge
It’s a sad fact that creative people have the stereotype of being totally consumed with their own works, and don’t want to compromise/change a thing for the sake of sales and dollar amounts. I’m here to tell you everyone, that’s total hogwash.
In my opinion, being a creative and being compensated for the creative works you create is the same exact thing as being a consultant, or an independent contractor. You’re only as good as what you do today, and every morning you wake up unemployed. Should you not be a business minded person, this book can give you the insights and understanding to put yourself first and how to negotiate the inner politics of any world, not just the ones you create.
3. Come back with your shield, or on it.
The whole book focuses on one very important aspect that was revolutionary for his time. It focuses on the idea of “The New Prince.” In a time where royalty and leadership was dictated more by ones last name than their own individual skills and abilities, this was unheard of. In this book, Machiavelli basically laid a road map into politics that no commoner of his time would ever get to learn except from the experience they would never have.
It’s the same in our time with money and power. Most of us have to make it on our own, there’s no help, there’s no encouragement. All you have is the sweat of your brow and the strength of your back, and in his own way, Machiavelli encourages us to fight past all the gatekeepers and naysayers in our own lives.
While the quote “Come back with your shield, or on it,” is a Greek saying, usually associated with the Spartans, it’s something we could all take into our own lives.
Learn all you can, make the best of the opportunities given, and never ever give up. The Prince is an amazing piece for a writer to read and understand because it enriches all three parts of his life. His work, his finances, and his own personal world.
So please everyone, read and understand the teachings of this long dead genius. Even if you don’t agree and decide to disregard his teachings, never forget you may meet someone who will not.
So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Think I’m nuts? Whatever you’re thinking leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Featured image courtesy of Rafael Robles