Lee was chief executive of a Fortune 500 company. Used to working in a hive of thousands dedicated to translating his intentions into reality, upon retirement he wandered aimlessly in his mansion before deciding to run for national office.
Some might read the story and shrug “Why not?” Others watching the unfolding campaign wondered “What was he thinking?”
Life begins without power, a state survived only through the dedication of our parents. Thrust into adult independence we turn to our peers for support. This is the first step up the ladder of power – forming alliances.
Given talent, alertness and ambition, those associations are rapidly sorted by value. Focusing on becoming that indispensable link between our partners – either by talent or by guile – we attain the step of accomplishment. Our peers pursue us, offering professional, social and romantic rewards. We stride across the landscape of our chosen realm.
But that status is fragile. Our peers hunger for their own turn in the limelight. By our very visibility, we betray the secrets of our success, empowering them to push us aside. Sometimes that occurs by convention – Lee reached his company’s retirement age. Sometimes it happens through guile, such as with the infamous “Red Map” redistricting that cost so many Democrats their political careers. But it is almost always an ugly process. Status is the prop for our ego. Losing it is a type of psychological death.
Fighting that outcome is destructive and ultimately futile. More productively, we might charge forward. “My circle of associations is far larger than when I started – just think what greater things I can accomplish!” But why should they support us? They are fighting their own battles for status, or seeking to expand their own empires.
So we fall – and the greater the heights of our success, the more uncomfortable the landing. Sooner or later everyone is affected – whether a mother standing amid an empty nest or a rancher hanging up his spurs.
From that difficulty – whether metaphorically a dark box or a muddy, smoking-filled crater – power arises from within. To learn more, reach out and let’s open your mind to renewed purpose!