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On the Pursuit of Power -- How Mastery Can Be a Means To an End

Updated: May 18

A man standing beside a sea area.

Why We Crave the Power to Make Things Happen

There's a reason why video games contain difficulty, buildings are designed from scratch, and romantic relationships bring a certain sense of accomplishment. What if power is more accessible than we think? The reason all of these examples exist, is because we need power to attain or conquer them for ourselves, whether out of need or desire.

This drive for power, in its most basic sense, is the desire to achieve, to influence, and ultimately, to feel like we have some control over our own lives and the world around us.

Additional Examples of the Power of Achievement

  • The Learner: Mastering a new language, a musical instrument, or a complex skill like coding is a powerful achievement, motivating you to focus, persevere through frustration, and expand your knowledge base to apply your potential. This newfound power can open doors to new opportunities, careers, and ways of understanding the world.

  • The Healer:  Doctors, nurses, therapists, and anyone who helps others overcome physical or emotional challenges wield a powerful form of achievement, capable of transforming entire lives, including those of the people around them. They take someone struggling and use their knowledge and skills to bring them back to health or well-being. It's a testament to the power of human compassion and the ability to make a positive impact on people's lives.

  • The Advocate: Social workers, activists, and anyone who fights for a cause they believe in, tap into a powerful force, capable of reformation, innovation and revolution. They challenge the status quo, raise awareness, and work to create a change they deem positive. The power of their achievement lies in their ability to make a difference in the world, even in the face of opposition, and despite of it.

  • The Artist: Whether it's painting a masterpiece, composing a symphony, or writing a novel, artists translate their vision and emotions into a form that can touch others, enlighten minds and excite hearts. Their achievement lies in the power of creativity to evoke emotions, spark discussions, a lasting impression for any who consume their content.

These are just a few examples, and the drive for power can manifest in countless ways. It's about having faith that can make a difference, big or small, and leave our mark on the world. The drive for power is fundamental human desire that motivates us to learn, grow, and achieve the vision we want to see around and inside of us.

The Many Facets of Power

At its core, power is the ability to influence or affect a situation. As such, everything can hold a degree of power. It's not just, or necessarily, about having "more" of something, whether it's friends, money, or value. It's about wielding those resources to create change.

  • The Allure of Skill: Expertise in any field grants power, one that can distort our perception, as presented in the degree fallacy and the authority fallacy. A master chef has power over the ingredients and the ability to create culinary masterpieces. A skilled surgeon possesses a significant deal of power over life and death. A plastic surgeon can dictate how others may see you. While resources can enhance skill, it's the skill itself that allow a more-effective application of them.

  • The Power of Knowledge:  The intellectual's power comes not just from raw intelligence, but from the ability to use knowledge to solve problems, create new ideas, and inspire others. In the age of information, the possession of information, and the ability to earn it, is vital to your success.

Mastery: The Key to Unlocking Your Power

Power is the ability to influence and create change. With it, you can shape your world, and by extension, other people's world. The quest for mastery, as such, is the quest of power, as mastering a skill can increase your power significantly. Therefore, for those wanting to be more powerful due to whatever motive, mastery is imperative to make the change you want to see happening.

  • The Craftsman's Power: A skilled carpenter isn't just building cabinets and other furniture, they're transforming raw materials into functional works of art, thus shaping the spaces we inhabit, and contributing to various spaces. This is the power of expertise, which can be defined as the ability to translate skill and material into tangible impact.

Power in Every Path

Traditionally, power conjures images of wealthy elites or political leaders. However, the possession of knowledge and expertise, like in technology or any other modern field, can surpass this, paving a justification to the concept of technocracies.

While the human desire for power can sometimes conjure images of political leaders or CEOs, the truth is, it manifests in far more ways than just social or political control, or control over other people in general. By honing your merits through skill and discipline, you can increase your own power, as the path to mastery can give you a greater chance of accomplishing your goals. Living and dying by power is how this is done as a habit, with or without other people.

The myth that power belongs solely to the wealthy or well-connected is just that - a myth. Failing to see this as a myth, can greatly diminish the potential lies in your own power. Power has many forms, and its build-up often takes much time, practice, trial and error. It is said, for a reason, that empires are (occasionally) built slowly. Furthermore, an overnight's success is rare, to the point that some may consider it a myth. This understanding can empower anyone to find their own path to influence and make a difference -- with much, much patience.

And for that, you need to develop your mastery in your given field, so people will have faith in you, your vision, and in the justification to assist you in your endeavours. The more skillful you are, the more irreplaceable you become in any organization, including your own. Even monarchs can and were replaced throughout history due to lack of faith, as seen in King Charles the 1st's demise during the English Civil Wars in the 17th century.

The Spark Within: Why the Pursuit of Mastery is the Key to a Meaningful Life

The pursuit of mastery is an ongoing journey, filled with challenges and triumphs, and can only be resumed if you refuse to give up in face of adversity. It depends on your devotion to push your boundaries, constantly learn, and strive to be the best version of yourself in your chosen field. To quote Robin Sharma (Credit: Kreyon Media):

Within this journey lies the potential to use yourself like a carpenter uses raw material to make cabinets. To designate yourself, like a machine, to a certain function you deem worthy of your time. As such, mindlessly killing time, can be regarded as the waste of your raw potential. The mastery-seeker trains to use that power for his goals. The klumnik, on the other hand, doesn't care enough, or isn't determined enough, to do so.

The pursuit of mastery, in any field, opens the door for everyone to claim their own kind of power, and utilize it. This raw power can only be utilized best by mastering the skill in which one can utilize it. And as such, mastery becomes a means to an end. If you want to be understood, strive to become a ruthless communicator, and you can reduce miscommunication to a minimum. If you want to become stronger, master the art of physical training. You can do it for your ego, which is the narcissistic thing to do, but it doesn't have to be like that if you overcome the need for validation.

Have you ever watched someone so skilled at something that it seems almost magical? They all possess a kind of power, attainable not only from natural aptitude, but from its training. It is done with or without the need to have subordinates, whether they follow with loyalty or from oppression.

As such, mastery isn't just about being good, but about reaching a level of expertise where you can push boundaries, solve problems, and create something truly impactful. You cannot reach it if you refuse to believe in yourself, and you'll surely struggle in having others believe in you if you lack faith in your own power. Therefore, faith plays a great role in your path to harness yourself. This is known as self-efficacy. Otherwise, why bother?

The desire to achieve this mastery, the pursuit of ever-increasing skill, is what ignites the spark within us, and programs us to utilize our means for our desired outcomes. It's the reason we push ourselves to learn, to practice, and to constantly improve. One would struggle in doing so if they refuse to criticize, if not lambast, the flaws in them and in their current methods.

You can save those who help you from becoming your victims if you work on yourself enough, to render your ego minor in comparison to your ambitions. Thus, by conquering your ego, you can make yourself even more irreplaceable, as then you can prioritize the bigger picture more than your need for self-admiration.

Mastery: A Legacy for Generations

The efficency of mastery lies not just in personal fulfillment, but in the legacy it creates. When we master a skill, we possess the ability to become teachers, inspiring and empowering the next generation of masters. By teaching others, our mastery allows us to share our "abstract energy" with the world, transforming it from a personal asset to a wider collective tool for greater functionality.

Finding Your Spark

Many people fall into the trap of simply existing, going through the motions of work and daily life without a sense of purpose, or with the idea that they have no reason to assign themselves further purpose. As evident by the Paradise Paradox, it is hard for many people to let go of the need to improve and develop. Therefore, the pursuit of mastery offers an antidote to this purposelessness, as it gives us a long-term goal to aspire to, and one we can apply in several fields of life.

We always have some degree of energy, and energy is there to be released, not repressed. Repression is there to keep people in line and preserve social order. One's power is a threat to another, so limitation of powers are enforced not by right necessarily, but by norms.

This power the spark that ignites passion, fuels purpose, and ultimately, justifies our existence in this world, as more than a product of our environment.

But with power you can feel more alive. That's why you should make sure to not let it go over your head, or you might lose touch with reality, or at least severely overestimate yourself. One can attain power, remain moral, and refuse to fall into megalomania. That, may require a mastery itself!

Extra Notes

Ultimately, mastery can become less about external validation (like collective praise or a trophy) and more about the intrinsic satisfaction of actualizing your full potential as a human being.

Even if you never reach the absolute pinnacle of mastery, the journey itself is deeply meaningful. The constant striving to improve imbues your life with purpose and the "life-force" you need to keep going. To quote Norman Vincent Peale:

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.”

In a way, the ownership of your skills, the knowledge that you are constantly growing and improving, becomes a form of power in itself, applicable for your survival in a highly-competitive world. It's the power to define your own existence, to find meaning and fulfillment beyond societal expectations.

Mr. Nathan Lasher's Feedback

Power is a great subject. In a sense it is something everyone has. They are given free will which means they have the power to change anything in their lives that they want to.
Why do people feel as if power has such a high cost? It does but not in a flat sense. If you don’t like something you have all the power in the world to change your mind about it. Problems only exist as constructs in people’s minds. Your mind is something you have complete power over controlling. 
Power in the form of mastery doesn’t always have to come from a desire to master it. A true master will never feel they are that good because they are aware of just how little they know.
Learning stuff is what affords people to gain "life credits"; Credit that can be used towards new things.
A master is on a lifelong journey to always be improving. A person will never see themselves as a master even if they are because they have chosen a journey of constantly improving themselves.
Why do you think professionals in sports spend so much time practicing? They might very well be considered masters but it is only because of how much work they put in to themselves.
Mastery is also nothing more than the successful application of knowledge. Mastery is nothing more than a drive to learn as much as you can. You should always strive to be a master at everything you do.
You never know when learning a new skill might come in handy in another area of your life. Polymathy isn’t something that is reserved for the highly intelligent. I always try to learn new things because as I do them I never know what it’ll make me think about.
Using golf as an example: I possess some pretty great abstract cognition. Golfing lets me clear my mind of almost everything so it affords me the chance to let my brain have power for other things.
People should work on mastery of life. Isn’t that the point of philosophy? 

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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