Recently having finished “The Prince” by Niccolò Machiavelli, I believe that there is a lot to learn from the book. While the book discusses methods that I don’t particularly agree with; deception, for example, there is still a lot of great and important points within the pages.
The quotes chosen were the ones that particularly stood out in the book. There has been commented on them briefly, but there was no need to explain every quote fully — therefore some have merely been expanded upon as seen fit.
On helping yourself
Therefore, my son, if you wish to please me, and to bring success and honour to yourself, do right and study, because others will help you if you help yourself.
This reminds me of a story I once heard. It was about a man whose car had broken down, and he was stranded on the side of the road. He tried for a long time to wave someone in to help him but to no use. Everyone simply drove past him, ignoring him.
However, he then started pushing the car himself. That’s when someone pulled over and helped the man.
Others will only help you if you help yourself.
Don’t go around expecting others to do the work for you. Nobody will pull you up. Pull yourself up, and they will help you. Prove that you want this to happen by helping yourself, and others will aid you as well.
Turning enemies to friends
Because men, when they receive good from him of whom they were expecting evil, are bound more closely by their benefactor, thus the people quickly become devoted to him than if he had been raised to the principality by their favors.
To turn your enemies into friends, you should treat them well and generously when they are expecting you to do the opposite.
On seeking council
Therefore, a wise prince ought to hold a third course by choosing the wise men in his state, and giving them only the liberty of speaking the truth to him, and then only of those things which he inquires, and of none others; but he ought to question them upon everything, and listen to their opinions, and afterward form his own conclusions.
When receiving advice, always question it. Listen to their opinions, but form your own conclusions.
Just because you receive some advice, it is not necessary for you to act upon it.
A prince, therefore, ought always to take counsel, but only when he wishes and not when others wish; he ought rather to discourage every one from offering advice unless he asks for bit; but, however, he ought to be a constant inquirer, and afterwards a patient listener concerning the things of which he inquired; also, on learning that any one, on any consideration, has not told him the truth, he should let his anger be felt.
Learning from the greats
But to exercise the intellect the prince should read histories, and study there the actions of illustrious men, to see how they have borne themselves in war, to examine the causes of their victories and defeat, so as to avoid the latter and imitate the former; and above all do as illustrious man did, who took as an exemplar one who had been praised and famous before him, and whose achievements and deeds he always kept in his mind, as it is said Alexander the Great imitated Achilles, Caesar Alexander, Scipio Cyrus.
I am a huge proponent of reading regularly. Machiavelli recommends doing the same; reading. Read of the great men who achieved great feats. Learn from them.
The road less traveled
Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.