Power can be good or bad. It depends on who uses it and how. True power is given not exerted. Such true power puts others before self.

The pursuit of power is self-serving. Those who pursue power think they are better than everyone else. Power hungry “leaders” don’t serve others, but want only to be served.

Everything has power within it. Consider the atom. It may not seem much, but when that atom is split the amount of energy unleashed is astonishing. Such power can be harnessed for good or for evil. The wind and the waves have power. Whilst we can harness that power for good, during storms that power can be very destructive. Similarly, man has power. We can use it for good or for evil.

How do you use your power?

As long as there is pride in man, as long as there is sin in this world, there will be men who wish to lord it over others. We see it in the corporate raiders. We see it in the bullies at school. We see it in sex/wife abusers. We see it portrayed in movies where megalomaniacs try to rule the world or the galaxies. Ego is everything. Such people take advantage of others. To get what they want, they don’t really care who they hurt. Sometimes they will go to any length to achieve their aims. Such power is abhorrent. Such power corrupts. Hitler, Nero, Stalin, Hussein, Khadafi and many others like them have been consumed by pride, ego and power. Most of us would not condone such abuse of power.

And you know…I am no different. I may not want to take over a country or a global company, but I do want my way at times. There are times when I use my power for my own ends, especially when I become impatient and/or intolerant. I overlook a teaching opportunity to get something done because I’m on my schedule, my agenda. I won’t take “No” for an answer. What I want is “Yes.” There is likely not a parent who has not applied their power to get their kids to do something that they wanted.

When I was a veterinarian, I became very conscious of the power I had – the power of life and death. When I worked in a slaughterhouse, I could stop the killing on the production line with a word. I had the authority. When an animal was on the surgery table, it was totally under my power. When an animal was beyond saving, I applied my knowledge and power to ease suffering. My character behind such power was tested at times. Like when dealing with an unwanted animal. Such animals often were healthy, but the owner wanted it put to sleep – an ethical dilemma. That’s when I would often apply my power for the benefit of the animal.

When leaders have such power, it can be intimidating and/or intoxicating.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

Abraham Lincoln

We all have power. In the first instance, we have the power to choose. The decisions we make decide our path, our relationships and our success in life. If we decide to pursue power wrongly, we are on a slippery slope… We succumb to flattery. We resist wise counsel. We start to become isolated. We avoid or ignore accountability. We use others without showing gratitude. We are discourteous and unloving. Everyone, including and, perhaps, especially, our families are pawns to be used and manipulated for our interests. We use power to punish. This applies to the playground, the boardroom, the locker room or the bedroom. The drug of power is addictive and we apply the weapon of control to get it.

As I read the other day, when we actively pursue power, we put personal ambition ahead of personal integrity. The focus is to get what we want at other people’s expense. Remember The Karate Kid (the original)? The bad sensei ruled his dojo through fear and intimidation. In the final fight, this sensei tells his fighter to sweep the injured leg of Daniel LaRusso – a win-at-all-costs attitude. Fairness did not enter into it. Pride and power were everything. On the other hand, Mr Miyagi and Daniel were all about doing the right thing. Daniel won the fight and the respect of many, including his enemy.

A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.

Proverbs 29:23


When I think about it, power is power. It’s like electricity. Used wisely, it can power many useful machines and light up our lives. When too much is routed through one socket, you get an overload, a power surge and that can lead to a destructive fire and power failure. How power is used determines if it is good or bad. To me, true power is applied to serve the greater good – the needs of the many, rather than the needs of the one. Jesus, the Son of God, exemplifies such power. He chose not to abuse his power but to use it to serve a far greater purpose.

Like Jesus, leaders with true power, from boardroom to family room, lead to serve; they serve to lead. True power is humble. I recall reading in the Harvard Business Review about Level 5 leaders who focus their power and apply it with humility. Such leaders exercise true power that is given not exerted, not taken. Such true power puts others before self.

Every day is an opportunity to use your power. The more you use if for good the more will flow your way. Use your power to add value to others rather than add to your ego.

Your Power play

Be humble. Serve others with your power.

In Pursuit Of Power

by Dr Richard Norris on July 28, 2014 – Founder at Leading Men Only. The #1 resource for men in leadership. Speaker & coach on self-leadership & men leadership