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Is the Love of 'Power' the Root of All Evil?

Power can be bad. That little girl who yelled, "Look at me!" grows up to be a business woman who adorns herself with symbols of power: Jewelry, cars, houses, trips and fresh flowers.

Then there is the guy at work who asks to be called Dr. Smith and adds a string of professional certifications to his business card. You know him. He's the one with his alma mater's name on his back windshield. It's fun to impress.

People with elevated nPow are keenly aware of their place in the social hierarchy. It's not unlike the animal hierarchies in NatGeo documentaries. Like animals, those with a high nPow respect power position of others. But they choose friends who are lower in the social hierarchy and less likely to compete for prestige.

Research shows that those with strong nPow typically have a negative self-image. Men describe themselves as aggressive, coarse, disorderly, high strung, rebellious and resentful. Women describe themselves as cynical, complicated, disorderly, self-pitying and resentful. Both genders report more emotional problems, stress-related health problems and addictions. It's stressful always playing the lead role.

Advice for Those With an Elevated Need for Power

If you have a raised nPow, a first step is to understand the power motive. This will help you make sense of your behavior, then learn to control your bad impulses. It all starts with making a conscious effort. For example:

Stop trying to control social interactions. Replace declarative statements with questions. Don't try to one-up everyone's story. Don't interrupt and don't wrest control by changing the topic. And don't use "I" when you mean "we."

Stop competing. The world is not a zero-sum game. Be genuinely happy for those who succeed -- especially your team mates. Stop incessantly looking for faults in others -- look for the good. Fault finding never ends well.

Stop trying to impress. Look back at your Facebook posts and Christmas cards. Do you have a problem?

Stop sucking up. Everyone notices and everyone talks about it; and their comments are not good. Allying with high-level people can protect you temporarily, but as any history teacher will tell you, when you create enough enemies, you will fall. And that fall often happens quickly. Ask Anthony Weiner.

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