(Source of photo: mr_teleporter)

The most misunderstood dynamic of human nature is the power dynamic. Power in the context of this blog post is defined as:

Possession of control, authority, or influence over others.

(Source: Merriam-Webster)

The meme at the top of my post is taken from a particularly memorable scene from one my favorite television shows when I was growing up, Dallas (1978-1991) and the famous line delivered by the late actor who played the patriarch of the fictional Ewing family Jim Davis as Jock Ewing.

Power is never given freely, nor given up freely. Real power really IS something one must take.

I learned this as a Soldier (we Army Veterans capitalize the word “soldier”). In every leadership position to which I was assigned during my 23 year career, the authority I held in my position was defined more by my personal authority than by my statutory authority.

People tend to respect the power of the law as much as they respect some of the people who wield that power. Some powerful people are benevolent by choice, but are also only benevolent to a point, if at all.

As Niccolo Machiavelli wrote in his treatise on power The Prince:

Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good.

The next Machiavelli quote is why power is something no one ever gives you, but must be taken:

It should be borne in mind that there is nothing more difficult to arrange, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating changes. The innovator makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old order, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new. Their support is lukewarm … partly because men are generally incredulous, never really trusting new things unless they have tested them by experience.

-The Rational Ram

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