“You walk into a room of people, sitting around a table, discussing a concept- an intellectual concept. A few minutes into the discussion, a certain man (say, Ben) keeps standing up at any chance he gets, bellowing and “spitting facts.”
From his points, you can tell he has a fair understanding of the concept — maybe not Einstein-level understanding, but just enough to get by. He has the podium to himself, more than half the whole time. It doesn’t take long to realize that he’s “bossing” the entire discussion — he controls the room. His “oratory prowess” and his “passion” have many entranced.
They overlook another (say, John) who is in the background, sitting calmly and observing. He sits upright, nods his head on occasion, and smiles once in a while when someone looks in his direction. Or when the “boss” drifts out of line. His posture and carriage ooze self-confidence. He only cuts in once in a while, when it’s indispensable or talks when summoned — boy, he doesn’t disappoint, when he does- not in the slightest.
His eloquence and depth of knowledge while his short speeches last put the others in awe. But these are soon distracted by the verbose Ben in the room when he resumes his.”
It is very easy to get carried away by the charades and false shows of strength and knowledge these days. Firstly, the frenzy of the world doesn’t allow many to analyze things or people critically. In addition, people now have a propensity, greater than ever, to put on a show for people to see — whether it stems from narcissism or a need to mask their inadequacies. The result is people making shallow deductions from analyses that barely scratch the surface. Sadly, the resulting deductions have defined optimality in many pressing issues and concepts these days. Power is one of those concepts.
Society has tailored the minds of many people, especially the young, in recent times, to believe that powerful people are those with random (big) “hollow” showings of strength — physical, intellectual, or whatever.
However, the waters of true power run deeper than just “demonstrations,” in my opinion. It’s not really what they “do” that sets them apart.
It’s what they don’t “do.”
What is the hallmark of true power? The distinguishing, evident characteristic that seems to set truly powerful people apart from the mediocre? That “spark” that makes them stand out?
I think it’s restraint — the incredible amount of control they exhibit.
In its crude form, power is a monster that rears its head at every chance it gets. It wants to be seen, to be held in awe. It lurks close to the spotlight, seeking public adulation. These strong urges bend those who wield it to do its will. If they yield (and indeed most do), their sense of logic is continuously dulled and tainted with every arbitrary showing of strength until they’re deep in bondage.
These men turn out to be mere vessels, apparently — pawns. They lose control. It’s, therefore, no surprise that people have associated power with drunkenness and corruption. Crude, unrefined power is the intoxicating wine that dulls the sense of logic — the wild horse that damns its rider by heading straight for the edge of the cliff.
For truly powerful people, the story is different. They have come to terms with the potential of what they wield and its downsides, as well. This mastery then produces purposeful exploits — purposeful, groundbreaking exploits.
When they’re not doing things, they restrain themselves from hollow, unnecessary showings of superiority. This restraint doesn’t come from a place of fear that they may lose control. It comes from a place of knowledge and mastery — wisdom. They don’t go about throwing their weight around every chance they get.
“True power” doesn’t rage like an angry storm. It’s as calm as still waters. It doesn’t go about roaring to announce its presence. It slumbers, for the most part, only awakened when summoned. Powerful people are always very, very careful of how they wield their power. This attribute is often elusive, that it takes a great deal of observation to resonate at their frequency. Those who can’t stay still enough to observe are quick to tag this as spinelessness — a very wrong assertion.
Apart from an unbridled exhibition of power being a sign of “slavery,” it tends to become less appealing to those who behold it. Why? More times than often, continuous exposure tends to dull the sense of appreciation in the long run. With every impulsive showing of strength, power loses its value. Eventually, awe gets replaced by indifference (and, in turn, disgust, maybe). You know… “See-finish.”
However, restraint and the aura of mystery that comes with it make power retain its relevance for a long while. It’s probably another reason powerful people do not exercise power at the slightest opening they get.
The mystery, the suspense, and the buildup of anticipation before every move make their occasional exploits all the more groundbreaking and awe-inspiring. It is a significant part of what makes them what they are — powerful.
The point is: Impulsive, hollow “doings” do not define true power (or powerful people), no matter how “grand” they may seem to be.
Impulsivity is often due to a lack of self-control and/or “knowledge,” an unhealthy need for self-validation, or narcissism. Knowledge-driven restraint shows true power. Thus, we should learn to look beyond the charades that this world casts at us and instead tune in to the subtle tunes of true power lurking in the secret places. Beyond the obvious “doings,” there is so much going on in the background. Pay attention, and behold.