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People are so astonishingly different

by Rick Baker
On Jul 3, 2012

Extremes of People differences

Some people believe compassion is the defining characteristic of a life well lived.

Some believe will to power, in the most self-serving sense, is the defining characteristic of a life well lived.

Some people live in a middle ground between these two extremes; other people vacillate between the extremes.

At the extremes…

Extreme Compassion

The most-extreme proponents of compassion live humbly, abstemiously, in seclusion, mostly alienated from fellow man, with much silence, with simple diet, and with much meditation.

When I think of people who live with compassion, Tibetan monks always come to mind (although, often, they do not share their views with outsiders).

Extreme Will to Power

The most-extreme proponents of will to power live with bigger-than-life public presence, audaciously, cunningly, with much authority, with much demands of others, and with self-gratification.

When I think of people who live with will to power I think first of Friedrich Nietzsche (who philosophized about it in the late 19th Century) and Niccolo Machiavelli (who wrote an instruction manual about it – ‘The Prince’ - in the early 16th Century).

In business...

In business we rarely, if ever, see examples of compassionate leaders. Note: I mean compassionate as described above. In fact, few business leaders ever exhibit compassion at the extreme let alone exhibit it on an ongoing basis. For some business leaders, sensitivity to other people increases with age.

We do see business leaders exhibit will to power. Some leaders operate for short periods at the extreme envisioned by Nietzsche and Machiavelli. Few, if any, leaders can sustain that operating style: the current business and legal climates do not allow it.

In politics...

Political leaders provide a number of examples of extreme leadership...as examples: Gandhi was close to (or at) the compassionate extreme and Hitler was at the will to power extreme.


Beyond Business | Leaders' Thoughts

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