“Never give away your power,” they say. Relentlessly, they say it. But what does that mean? Well, we asked. And we got this reply: it means doing something in order to elicit a reaction from someone else. Interesting. No wonder so many comedians are troubled: every time they tell a joke they throw their power into the audience in the fervent hope that it will boomerang back to them a thousand fold.
So, does this mean that, every time we get a little bit of power we have less need of others’ approval, acceptance and support? That we become in many ways, less in need of others? And is this good for us?
The small dollops of power that hover over our tribe are things like, promotions, large inheritances, partnering up with an influential and/or very rich lover, fame, notoriety and access to much wanted people, experiences or things. Power is the ability or capacity to act in a particular way. And, generally, does power make us nicer or nastier? We looked around. We did a very quick and unscientific study and we concluded: both.
Power tends to make grown-up women a little bit marvellous: gracious, beneficent, kind, wise. We start to become milky with kindness, drowsy with success. Simultaneously we become calculating because this piece of power, now that it has landed, must stay. It must. What if it goes away? That can’t happen. How can I increase it? What must I do? I like this feeling. I want more of it. Does someone need to suffer or lose out to activate that? Power rarely makes us altruistic or, if it does, then it becomes a kind of telescopic idealism or philanthropy. As in: why can’t they pay people properly but no way am I paying my cleaner minimum wage…
Of course it corrupts. It makes us great and small at the same time. Generous and mean. We comfort and we torture. And this is why it is so unnerving when a friend gets a little dollop of power. They become inconsistent and yet slightly untouchable. This is because the ultimate paradox regarding power is this: it makes us vulnerable. And you have to be very evolved to find a state of vulnerability comforting. Work on it now. Work on the creativity and productivity that vulnerability can unleash. Just in case world domination lands on your doorstep.