Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Powerful People Do Not Live Balanced Lives

The power to command frequently causes failure to think.
- Barbara Tuchman, author and historian (1912-1989)

While most of us could think of many examples of people in power who fail to think, the majority of examples would be about powerful people who do not consider the full range of consequences of their actions. Especially they do not consider who might be physically hurt or killed or whose lives might be destroyed by their command choices.

Those who gain power must focus their attention in two different directions: how to maintain the power they have and how to increase their power. As these two often each take up more time than the people have available, they may try to increase their power by harming others who would compete for their power base or prevent them from climbing higher on the ladder.

Power demands a huge commitment to maintenance and growth. That usually requires the power mongers to sacrifice other parts of what are common to ordinary folks. They pay lip service to family, but family can never take precedence over their work. They may belong to a religion, but they use their fellow members as contacts for their network. Almost everyone they know have the potential to be used to their advantage at some point.

Powerful people do think. They simply think in so narrow a range that they necessarily ignore other aspects of life around them. Like happiness. Like addicts of other varieties, the power monger believes he is happy because he is "successful," as he has learned that power, success and happiness roll together into one great ball. They don't, but that is what they believe.

Power seekers can never be satisfied because they always need more. A person who can never be truly satisfied with themselves can never be truly happy. They have a very narrow focus of life, but convince themselves that theirs is what life is about.

Consider this when you admire or give considerable attention to those in positions of power.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to put a human face on those with fame and fortune. They are all people, just like you and me.
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