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Should Good People Pursue Power? 👑
What if they don't?
In life, you rarely get what you deserve; you get what you take. This is why it often seems like assholes rise to the top while loving, kind people end up struggling in the shadows.
How does this happen?
People sometimes believe, mistakenly, that the acquisition of money, power, resources, and influence is bad and should be avoided.
Many good people underestimate their abilities, either due to low confidence or a flawed sense of modesty.
Power compounds over time, so swift decision-makers — who don’t stop to consider the morality of their actions — tend to accumulate more power, more quickly, which they then leverage to acquire even more power.
Many kind people struggle to set boundaries and handle conflict, because they, understandably, hope that good people will eventually get rewarded for their integrity and work ethic.
The consequence of these phenomena is that bad leaders achieve dominance and cause suffering due to their arrogance, negligence, and cruelty.
We see it occur in organizations of every size: small businesses, churches, nonprofits, corporations, and nations all rot from the inside under poor leadership.
So what’s the solution?
Good people must learn how to play the game of power to their advantage: not in pursuit of wealth and glory, but as an act of service to a world that is starving for justice and good leadership.
“[A good man] who refuses to rule is liable to be ruled by one who is worse than himself.” — Socrates, as quoted by Plato in The Republic
We Must Become The Heroes We Need
Heroes aren’t born; they are made. With time and practice, a skillful practitioner of influence can fuse justice with power to become the hero they’ve always looked for.
Becoming a hero is simple, but not easy:
Good people need to learn how to influence others — as well as how to avoid being manipulated — while still maintaining the sensibilities and discipline that make them good in the first place.
Good people need to introspect deeply and develop humble but realistic self-assessments. They must cultivate high self-esteem based on a thorough examination of themselves, but not to the point of self-absorption.
Good people need to become future-minded; they must mentally prepare for likely future scenarios and make a plan about how to turn them to their advantage. This will allow them to act quickly and justly under pressure, since they will have already premeditated their decisions in a wide variety of scenarios.
Good people must learn how to set boundaries, ask for what they want, and fight for what they deserve. They also must embrace risk and steel themselves for rejection, conflict, and failure.
Life is the proving ground of heroes. If it was easy, then anyone could become a Marcus Aurelius or a Martin Luther King, Jr.
But it’s not easy. The pursuit of virtue requires wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice. If we want to become good and also position ourselves to serve the people we love, we must swallow our pride and enter the Forge of Life, every day.
Over time, the flames will burn away our selfishness, cruelty, and foolishness. Slowly, we will become good steel.
And if we don’t?
Cruel cowards with hateful, selfish hearts will continue to accumulate power with increasing amounts of leverage, and they will shape the minds of several generations at scale through the exponential reach of social media.
Don’t want that to happen?
Then suit up: It’s time for an uprising.
“Si vis pacem, para bellum.” (If you want peace, prepare for war.)
Food For Thought
Can you imagine a situation where you might need to lead a struggling group or defend a person in need?
How will you prepare now to rise to the occasion while maintaining integrity and humility — before it happens?
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