Pretty rad title, right? Makes you think of a video game, RIGHT? LEVEL UP!
But really, this is going to be a vague article, and it’s meant to be such. I’m just offering some ramblings and kernels of ideas to consider in your quest for ultimate world domination.
I’m not going to write specifically about getting political power (although I might in the future), but even if you’re not interested in politics, you should understand why it’s not always negative to desire power — because we all want power, which translates into stability or, for some, peace.
So, in that vain, I’ll briefly run through some common forms of power, and suggest the reader think about which is desirable, and how to get it.
What you talkin’ about!?
That’s right, I said it:
Everyone is struggling to get some form of power in their life. Whether it be family stability, some target income level, control over some relationship, purchasing a vacation rental property, a new position at a company … whatever it is, people in fact desire to get a lot of different things. Some people want to harvest followers, others simply want a job with a solid benefit structure. Both people, in that case, desire power, because having a job and a suit does in fact translate to power, whether you know it or not.
PSA: Generally, it’s impossible to attain any form of power if you don’t work at developing skills, which directly translates into power.
Let me explain …
Forms of REAL POWER (power that you can get and keep):
Physical: The most-obvious form of power is physical. Admittedly, it’s only a temporary power, because at some point in time beauty and physical strength could fade. However, physicality can induce action based solely on your outward appearance. There are plenty of women who use physical appearance as power — THINK ABOUT IT.
FYI: A state’s physical power comes in the form of a military. Currently, ISIS is using physical power and terrorist tactics to develop into empire. Though, I would say that perhaps they poked the wrong bear in Paris. But generally, brute force is should ideally be necessary only after all diplomatic proceedings fail.
In today’s world, I would say this form of power is the least important (at an individual level), unless your desired outcome is to be in professional sports, modeling or something like that.
In most modern societies, and this is the case in the United States, physical strength is very much downplayed. Overall, physical power isn’t needed to get what you want — unless you want to be overly beautiful, which I suppose plenty of people want.
Nonetheless, there is a physical aspect of power, and it can be used to get what you want.
Intellectual: This form of power, I would argue, is FAR more important than physical strength/beauty. Intellectual power affords an individual the ability to change the minds of others.
All of the world’s great leaders are great at marketing ideas. Statesmen, business people, industrial leaders, and politicians all must understand 1) what ideas are, 2) how to form them, and 3) they must know how to deliver compelling ideas to a broad range of people.
Not very many people in the world have the ability to create an insightful, creative, complete, and comprehensive idea, and those who can have endured intensive training, and a lot of mental strain to be able to do so. I mean really, academics have some of the most-intensive training out of any other profession (the only professions with more training are perhaps medical doctors/specialists, finance experts, and some computer programmers or something).
But, there are a LOT of people who THINK they have the ability to create complete ideas — and I ask that people understand the difference between facts and opinions, and understand how the scientific enterprise functions. In addition, I find that those who think they can create such grand ideas try feverishly to convince others of their superiority. There’s a difference between a compelling argument, and some guy trying to use big words he doesn’t fully grasp.
Politics, after all, is a battle of ideas. It’s becoming increasingly important to produce citizens who have the ability to think about really difficult-to-grasp things that demand an open mind, and I would say that only a minority of people have that ability. This minority also has the power to manipulate logic, ideas, cut up ideas, and market them to people for some purpose.
The other majority (not privy to idea-centric babble) either pretends to have such skills, they use false knowledge as leverage to achieve something, simply consume knowledge, or just have no drive to learn about difficult concepts.
The only way to defend good ideas is by delegitimizing bad ideas, and that requires people to understand how good ideas function (in addition to understanding how people function), which is a difficult thing to master.
Examples of SYNTHETIC POWER (manufactured, unless you carefully strategize):
Money: Power is money, as they say, and everyone wants it. With money, you can purchase concrete things, and even temporary allegiance.
To those of you who think that money is power, I would say that you’re half right. Money is a highly influential form of power, but I’ve met plenty of rich people who have no power over anything personally or professionally. Plus, wealthy people can be swindled out of money like the rest of us, so they’re sitting ducks for smooth-talking intelligent folk.
But, nonetheless, everyone needs money, and the acceptable quantity of things and money is determined by each person. Money can buy a LOT of things in life, so it’s no surprise this is what everyone wants.
But, because money is the most-desired form of power, it’s also the most-competitive. You’re competing pretty fiercely with other people who also want money (like everyone else). Getting money requires strategy, intellect, skill, and persistence, because there are plenty of other people who want money more than you. If you don’t want to do all that, you better have a damn catchy song chorus, or be able to sing and dance at Hollywood to make your money.
Fear (emotions in general): Like most all emotions (love and other stuff), fear can be exploited and translated into power (don’t worry, I won’t go through how all emotions can be mobilized). While it may seem like fear is an effective way to change people’s minds (terrorists, I’m talking to you), I would say that it is merely a temporary allegiance, and done so out of necessity. Eventually, fear will run it’s course, and the only replacement is substantial ideas.
Fear produces a synthetic power where the person using it demands a change or outcome. A nice complementary to fear is physical strength, considering you can use the two together. Similarly, fear can be used in conjunction with money to “sweeten”a deal perhaps.
While using fear to get what you want is probably effective, it isn’t sustainable, because it’s not real power (similar to money, it isn’t real). You can’t change people’s minds with fear, you can only scare them into following.
At the end of the day, yes, fear is a power that can be used to achieve something. However, it’s temporary, and artificial change … so be aware of that.
How to get what you want!
If there’s one thing I could stress about life in general, it would be this: Develop what you’re good at, then discover more things you’re good at to broaden your horizons, and that will help translate into something sustainable.
While most people immediately look to money as a goal (THINGS), I would suggest that developing intellect has far greater potential than money.
Consider this: intellectual power can translate into money. Also, intellect is probably the most-sustainable form of power one can hold. Money and beauty can fade fairly rapidly, and eventually people will figure out you’re manipulative of emotions.
However, if you’re schooled about people, general topics, and can grasp the world in a coherent way, people will respond more favorably to that — and hopefully your mind will stay healthy and clear as long as it can.
- There’s a guy named John. John goes to high school, and is interested in welding because he thinks he’ll make a lot of money, the same as a lot of his friends. John goes to school for welding, and doesn’t bother with any education other than the necessary certifications, because he’s uninterested. John becomes, in effect, a welder and a tradesman. From a utility perspective, John is useful so far as his knowledge; hence welding is what he can charge a premium for. He’s also interested in heavy metal and playing drums — very cool things if he can find time to practice and be able to produce some income. Anyway, after years of apprenticeship, John opens his own business being a welder, but has quite a bit of competition in the town he lives in, because everyone welds. After struggling a bit, he finally breaks even and begins to make a profit after 3 years. The profit is only minimally sustainable because his business relies on big companies needing construction in the area, which are leaving the area. As a result, his family goes through a series of ups and downs in income. Sadly, John never thought about economy, how markets work, what human behavior/nature is, consumption, sustainability, nor retirement strategies. He ends up with social security and a modest retirement, but has to work until he is very old. Eventually, when he has to move to a retirement home, he has to sell his business to cover the cost.
- There’s also a girl named Susan. Susan goes to college for philosophy, music, and dance. Everyone asks her why she studies these seemingly inconsequential subjects, and she doesn’t know, but she genuinely is interested and learns at the university. She graduates with a fancy degree, but only gets a position working at Starbucks, and has to hold off on her student loans. But, because of Susan’s intellectual curiosity, she observes people at Starbucks, and begins to question why people are so distant in modern times, and develops a new American novel about the struggles with excess and convenience. Her book becomes a small hit, and, after some time and resume tweaking, she finally gets a salaried job with a consulting firm. She collects some money from her book, a monthly salary, has savings for retirement with a 401k, and is developing her second book. The debt from her education slowly decreases as her equity and savings increases, and it does so predictably because she’s on salary and the only variation in pay are increases. Her novel money serves as extra cash for travel, and she gets a family. A few years down the road, she takes a part-time position teaching at a university, and continues to write poems and such. She retires from consulting after 20 years with a fantastic pension, she has a portfolio of writing work, and enjoys teaching and inspiring youth. She ends up making millions unknowingly from her writings, teaching, and consulting.
In both cases, knowledge is power. In the first case, John’s narrow specialty increased his stake in it, and his other interests were more like hobbies, and hence he only obtained a small amount of power. That is, he only had power over people when his skill was in demand. He didn’t have a lot of control/power over others other than in welding, and he even faced a lot of competition because a lot of other people wanted to make money from welding businesses as well. His education strategy was to focus on the most-narrow skill he could to avoid reading, writing, and the like. Hence he never explored alternative careers, nor did he ask fundamental questions about people and society; he never saw fluctuations in the economy as a big deal, thus he was caught blindsided when his income levels dropped.
Susan, however, studied a broad range of subjects, and dabbled in several areas. She also used her studies to her advantage and was able to figure out what to do based on observation, inquiry, solid writing skills, critical thinking, theory building, and she effectually used her environment to write novels. She relied on her education (as a qualifier) for a steady and consistent (and increasing) salary. She also was able, through her employer, to save responsibly for a smooth retirement transition.
The fact is the world needs writers, welders, janitors, and baristas. But, I suggest that the welder do more than simply weld. Perhaps some mechanics certifications, take a financial class or two, work towards a degree, read books for knowledge (as opposed to reading for entertainment), learn about computer systems or something. Really anything that increases knowledge and can broaden skills. Because knowledge is, quite literally, power.
Using fear, money, and physical strength to get what you want isn’t as sustainable, and, in the long run, it’s far more difficult to hold on to. The better bet is to go through the mental strain of figuring things out and earning some sort of real intellectual power.
No longer can people afford to drift through life with a singular skill — unless its an in-demand skill like computer programming. Even then, you have to foresee when, and how long, that skill will remain competitive. Without a clear understanding of the world, and some direction of where you want to go, I’m afraid power will always be out of grasp. Or, perhaps you’ll be selling yourself short.
In the end, everyone is looking for power in their life, and it is evident at all levels of human interaction. Political parties are coalitions of groups vying for power. Politicians want their policies to become reality. Countries wish to see their values and way of life spread across the world.
Thus, I suggest people start thinking about what it is they want, and cultivate some real power — because that synthetic stuff is really a waste of time, unless it’s used temporarily and appropriately.