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Power

  • ... power, after it has ceased from troubling, is the dominant passion in human nature.

  • ... more and more I come to loathe any dominion of one over another; any leadership, any imposition of the will.

  • ... need alone is not enough to set power free: there must be knowledge.

  • Have you never thought how danger must surround power as shadow does light? This sorcery is not a game we play for pleasure or for praise.

  • Coercive power is the curse of the universe; coactive power, the enrichment and advancement of every human soul.

  • ... genuine power is power-with, pseudo power, power-over.

  • Power-over is resorted to time without number because people will not wait for the slower process of education.

  • ... we certainly do not want to abolish power, that would be abolishing life itself, but we need a new orientation toward it.

  • We can confer authority; but power or capacity, no man can give or take. The manager cannot share his power with division superintendent or foreman or workmen, but he can give them opportunities for developing their power. Functions may have to be redistributed; something the manager does now had better perhaps be left to a division superintendent, to a foreman, even to a workman; but that is a different matter; let us not confuse the two things. Indeed, one of the aims of that very redistribution of function should be how it can serve to evolve more power — more power to turn the wheels. More power, not division of power, should always be our aim ...

    • Mary Parker Follett,
    • in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett ()
  • Love of power more frequently originates in vanity than pride (two qualities, by the way, which are often confounded) and is, consequently, yet more peculiarly the sin of little than of great minds.

  • Power, like fear, had a taste. But power tasted better.

  • Power never takes two weeks off. Power takes long weekends.

  • Nothing is more stylish than power.

  • How thin is the crust of order over the fires of human appetite and the lust for naked power.

  • Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't.

    • Margaret Thatcher,
    • in Iain Dale and Grant Tucker, eds., The Margaret Thatcher Book of Quotations ()
  • There is no power greater than the power of passive dependency.

  • There's power to: and everyone should have that, but everyone doesn't. Power to play Bach, or tennis, or boccie if you like. And there's power over; and no one should have that, but people do.

  • I had given this man the power over my life. And I will never, never — as long as I am black! — I will never give up my power to another person.

    • Oprah Winfrey,
    • in Nellie Bly, Oprah: Up Close and Down Home ()
  • ... power can be thought of as the never-ending, self-feeding motor of all political action that corresponds to the legendary unending accumulation of money that begets money.

  • ... every political structure, new or old, left to itself develops stabilizing forces which stand in the way of constant transformation and expansion. Therefore all political bodies appear to be temporary obstacles when they are seen as part of an eternal stream of growing power.

  • ... the fateful equating of power with violence, of the political with government, and of government with a necessary evil has begun.

  • To speak of the impotence of power is no longer a witty paradox.

  • The extreme form of power is All against One, the extreme form of violence is One against All.

  • Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act but to act in concert. Power is never the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps together. When we say of somebody that he is 'in power' we actually refer to his being empowered by a certain number of people to act in their name. The moment the group, from which the power originated to begin with ... disappears, 'his power' also vanishes.

  • All political institutions are manifestations and materializations of power; they petrify and decay as soon as the living power of the people ceases to uphold them.

  • Violence can destroy power; it is utterly incapable of creating it.

  • ... the less powerful group usually knows the powerful one much better than vice versa — blacks have had to understand whites in order to survive, women have had to know men — yet the powerful group can afford to regard the less powerful one as a mystery.

  • Perhaps men should think twice before making widowhood our only path to power.

  • Power can be taken, but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself.

  • Power in this country is often like hemophilia; it passes through women and then men get it.

  • ... the title of Queen rang sweet to my ears, child though I was. ... This idea of a crown began running in my head then like a tune, and has been running a lot in it ever since.

  • I shall be an autocrat: that's my trade. And the good Lord will forgive me: that's his.

  • In this world, all power rests upon force.

  • ... the instruments of power — arms, gold, machines, magical or technical secrets — always exist independently of him who disposes of them, and can be taken up by others. Consequently all power is unstable.

  • To get power over is to defile. To possess is to defile.

  • I have a prejudice against people with money. I have known so many, and none have escaped the corruption of power. In this I am a purist. I love people motivated by love and not by power. If you have money and power, and are motivated by love, you give it all away.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1945, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 4 ()
  • I am more and more convinced that man is a dangerous creature; and that power, whether vested in many or a few, is ever grasping, and, like the grave, cries 'Give, give.'

    • Abigail Adams,
    • to her husband, John Adams (1775), Letters of Mrs. Adams ()
  • How is it possible, that the love of gain and the lust of domination should render the human mind so callous to every principle of honor, generosity and benevolence?

    • Abigail Adams,
    • to her husband, John Adams (1775), Letters of Mrs. Adams ()
  • Nobody is as powerful as we make them out to be.

  • Some people never seem to learn from experience. No matter how often they had seen the lion devour the lamb, they continued to cling to the hope that the nature of the beast might change. If only the lion could get to know the lamb better, they argued, or talk matters over ...

  • Everybody has to have their little tooth of power. Everybody wants to be able to bite.

  • If power corrupts, weakness in the seat of power with its constant necessity of deals and bribes and compromising arrangements, corrupts even more.

  • The appetite for power is old and irrepressible in humankind, and in its action almost always destructive.

  • Strong prejudices in an ill-formed mind are hazardous to government, and when combined with a position of power even more so.

  • Government remains the paramount area of folly because it is there that men seek power over others — only to lose it over themselves.

  • We would do well to ponder the realization that love is the most potent source of power.

  • Power is what it is perceived to be.

  • Power gives power.

  • Power is a dangerous thing. Be careful that you don't abuse it or let it make a tyrant of you.

  • Being physically close to extreme power causes one to experience a giddiness, an intoxication.

  • Fortune is always on the side of the big battalions.

    • Madame de Sévigné,
    • 1673, in M. Monmerqué, ed., Lettres de Madame de Sévigné, de sa famille et de ses amis, vol. 3 ()
  • It is the man who is sure of himself who disregards the opinion of the world. To be sure is to have power.

  • ... nowhere does power give itself up willingly.

  • You have gathered the many powers, / You have clasped them now / Like necklaces unto your breast.

    • Enheduanna ,
    • "The Hymn to Inanna" (c. 2350 BCE), in Jane Hirschfield, ed., Women in Praise of the Sacred ()
  • True leaders have so much power they are willing to give it away. Power is not a fixed, quantifiable sum; instead it is an unlimited abstraction which grows as it is shared.

  • The leader who uses power well is aware of the good uses to which it can be put; she has accepted the ramifications of using power, knowing it is necessary if she is to operate in the most efficient manner. Power is just one more vehicle to facilitate accomplishments. Most people do not think about their potential for power. The leader does. She is willing to use her power over others to make things happen. She extends her influence whenever she can with whatever tools she has or can borrow.

  • ... current research is showing that true leaders enjoy using their power and are comfortable with it — so comfortable, in fact, that they don't mind sharing that control when it is appropriate to do so.

  • No human being, man, woman, or child, may safely be entrusted to the power of another; for no human being may safely be trusted with absolute power.

  • Power should not be concentrated in the hands of so few, and powerlessness in the hands of so many.

  • You're not successful till you've helped someone else. If you want to sit up there, aloof and isolated like the Wizard of Oz, scaring everyone with fake power, you'll never move on. Lending a hand makes you feel stronger in your soul and it makes you look stronger to others.

  • The one who decides who goes ahead has the upper hand, regardless of who gets to go. This is why many women do not feel empowered by such privileges as having doors held open for them. The advantage of going first through the door is less salient to them than the disadvantage of being granted the right to walk through a door by someone who is framed, by his magnanimous gesture, as the arbiter of the right-of-way.

  • You see what power is — holding someone else's fear in your hand and showing it to them!

  • ... if knowledge is power, clandestine knowledge is power squared; it can be withheld, exchanged, and leveraged.

  • Differences of power are always manifested in asymmetrical access. The President of the United States has access to almost everybody for almost anything he might want of them, and almost nobody has access to him. The super-rich have access to almost everybody; almost nobody has access to them. ... The creation and manipulation of power is constituted of the manipulation and control of access.

  • But I have noticed this about ambitious men, or men in power — they fear even the slightest and least likely threat to it.

  • Power in the hands of particular groups and classes serves like a prism to refract reality through their own perspective.

  • Kings may see their palaces fall, but the ants will always have their dwellings.

    • Eugénie de Guérin,
    • letter (1838), in Guillaume S. Trébutien, ed., Letters of Eugénie de Guérin ()
  • O God, let me not say, 'Thine the power, glory be to God!' whilst thou dost, waiting, listen for me to say, 'Mine the power, glory be to God!'

  • The difference between men and women is that women seek power in order to address issues, while men address issues in order to seek power.

    • Kathleen Brown,
    • in Pat Heim with Susan K. Golant, Hardball for Women: Winning at the Game of Business ()
  • Bodies in power tend to stay in power, unless external forces disturb them.

    • Catharine Stimpson,
    • "The Power to Name," in E.J. Sherman and E. Beck, eds., The Prism of Sex ()
  • Power, when invested in the hands of knaves or fools, generally is the source of tyranny ...

  • 'Must power always be for destruction?' said Anna. 'That has so far been largely the experience.'

  • It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.

  • ... to empower others is ultimately to empower oneself.

    • Mary Elizabeth Schlayer,
    • in Mary Elizabeth Schlayer with Marilyn H. Cooley, How to Be a Financially Secure Woman ()
  • Powerful people are seen as such because they have the capacity to give power to others and they do so.

  • It is nonsense to say that women have never had any power in the Churches: they have had immense power, but power in the form of influence, which is irresponsible power. Nobody can call to account the wife or mother who gets her way with husband or son and is known to be the real director of his opinion and vote. This is the form of power to which women, especially very able women, have been confined by their exclusion from responsible power.

  • To whom one reports is a unit of measure. It measures the exact distance between the player and the center of power. It is the closest we can get to a calibrated answer to the question 'How big am I?' More than the size of an executive's office or even his title, which no one remembers anyway, the fewer people between the player and a 'yes,' the more powerful he is.

  • Would the world ever be run by anything better than personal passion, and the scoring off each other of amoral schoolboys?

  • True power is invisible and impeccable, like good taste. It is never clumsy or artless. Powerful people whisper, suggest, seduce, in order to coerce. They only use volume for effect. This is how you can tell a blowhard from a mogul. ... Most powerful people don't need to coerce; their mere presence is coercive.

  • Information is currency. ... Power is a place as well as a verb; it is inside the information tent.

  • My sins like a mountain reached to the skies, black as sack cloth of hair and the heavens was as brass against my prayers ... in this moment of despair the cloud bursted, the heavens was clear, and the mountain was gone. My spirit was light, my heart was filled with love for God and all mankind. And the lightning, which was a moment ago the messenger of death, was now the messenger of peace, joy, and consolation. And I rose from my knees, ran down stairs, opened the door to let the lightning in the house, for it was like sheets of glory to my soul.

    • Rebecca Jackson,
    • in Jean McMahon Humez, Gifts of Power: the Writings of Rebecca Jackson, Black Visionary, Shaker Eldress ()
  • Power is supposed to be so corrupt. I don't think it's so much corrupt, in the usual sense of the word, as stupid and unrealistic. The more power a person has, the further he gets from reality.

    • Jane Jacobs,
    • in Elizabeth Janeway, ed., The Writer's World ()
  • My mother used to say when we were children, 'When a boy gets a stick in his hand, his brains run out the other end of it.' Power is a stick in the hand, and I have never heard of anybody who wielded a very big stick of power whose brains did not run out the other end. As a nation, our brains are running out the other end of our power right now.

    • Jane Jacobs,
    • in Elizabeth Janeway, ed., The Writer's World ()
  • Other problems confront women in power. One is fine but two's a crowd seems to be an unspoken rule when the one wears a skirt. And those in authority have found ways to reward women for excluding others of their kind.

  • The idea of power as a possession, whose asset can be banked and drawn on when needed, comes easy to a society whose rules grow out of the methods of finance capitalism.

  • Powerful people get away with things. That's one way to demonstrate their difference from the rest of us.

  • ... power is not a thing to be owned. But if you believe that it is such a thing, losing it becomes a possibility to fear. That fear, I think, is one reason for the dark projections of a catastrophic future that are so widespread, in our dual society. The present powerful, being committed to polarization, expect that any new deal will overturn the one that set them in authority; that the last shall be first and the first last, role reversal everywhere, men as slaves, women as masters, in a revolution of contradiction.

  • This is the power of the powerful to define, to structure, to say, 'This is the way the world works.' It's enormous power. Among the powers of the weak, I think the first one is the power not to believe the powerful.

  • Personal power, which is derived from our ability to act in the interest of ourselves and others, is developed from our ability to first clearly see and understand ourselves.

  • Personal power is derived from three attributes: credibility, integrity, and trust. Each of these is an outcome of our words and deeds. Each is earned in the moment, each is created over a lifetime, and each is a hallmark of our character insofar as we are consistent in our actions. Our reputation can be obliterated in the blink of an eye. We bank our credibility, integrity, and trust in successive interactions and transactions with others. For many the account is low. For some it does not exist. For others, the account has been emptied. Whether the account is depleted or building, it is only as full as the last transaction.

  • How we use power and which forms of power we use create our reputations. Our reputations are critical to our success. They are determined not only by our behavior but by the subtle and not so subtle strategies we use, including whether we present a nonthreatening image, align with powerful others, develop liaisons, use trade-offs, and diffuse opposition. Our reputations, more than anything else, determine the degree of personal power we have.

  • Despite the negative connotations of the word, power (or influence) is something that everyone exerts a good deal of the time. ... It is the coercive or abusive use of power, not power itself, that we find offensive.

  • Power behaviors that are seen as appropriate for men will not ... be seen as appropriate for women. ... Successful managers are those who are able to acquire and use power strategies effectively. Those power styles and strategies that are most associated with being perceived as powerful and competent, with being effective or persuasive, are also associated with being masculine. ... the evidence suggests that both masculine and feminine styles may be effective if used by men, but masculine styles are not effective when used by women. The ineluctable conclusion is that women have the choice of using power in an indirect (manipulative) way and risking either being ineffective or unrecognized, or using direct styles and risking being both ineffective and disliked.

  • ... power consists to a large extent in deciding what stories will be told ...

  • Ironically, women who acquire power are more likely to be criticized for it than are the men who have always had it.

  • Simply stated, power is the ability to get things done.

    • Pat Heim,
    • with Susan K. Golant, Hardball for Women: Winning at the Game of Business ()
  • No influence so quickly converts a radical into a reactionary as does his election to power.

  • Power is a companion it is not easy to part with, when it goes, the zest of life goes with it. With dry eyes and clenched fist, one stares after it, jealous of the next one it will single out.

    • Marie of Romania,
    • 1926, in Hannah Pakula, The Last Romantic: A Biography of Queen Marie of Roumania ()
  • ... the old ploy of the powerful: never refuse when you can confuse. Distraction and delay are always better than obstruction.

  • Abuse of power comes as no surprise.

  • Wanting power is half the secret of getting it.

  • Power is prominence. Power has the capability of activating and producing an effect. Power is a position of ascendance with the ability to compel compliance. Power is influence. Power is big money. Power is self-determination.

  • ... achieving power ... is a combination of timing, luck, and hard work. Plus one other ingredient women overlook a lot. That's wanting power.

  • Whether it comes from a despotic sovereign or an elected president, from a murderous general or a beloved leader, I see power as an inhuman and hateful phenomen. To the same degree that I do not understand power, I do understand those who oppose power, who criticize power, who contest power, especially those who rebel against power imposed by brutality.

  • The degree to which the opportunity to use power effectively is granted to or withheld from individuals is one operative difference between those companies which stagnate and those which innovate.

  • Power is America's last dirty word. It is easier to talk about money — and much easier to talk about sex — than it is to talk about power.

  • Power stems from 'rainmaking,' as law firms put it: the ability to bring resources into the company.

  • Power begets power.

  • ... power is the ability to get things done, to mobilize resources, to get and use whatever it is that a person needs for the goals he or she is attempting to meet. In this way, a monopoly on power means that only very few have this capacity, and they prevent the majority of others from being able to act effectively. Thus, the total amount of power — and total system effectiveness — is restricted, even though some people seem to have a great deal of it. However, when more people are empowered — that is, allowed to have control over the conditions that make their actions possible — then more is accomplished, more gets done.

  • Power is a central issue in social and personal transformation. Our sources and uses of power set our boundaries, give form to our relationships, even determine how much we let ourselves liberate and express aspects of the self. More than party registration, more than our purported philosophy or ideology, personal power defines our politics.

  • Power, however it has evolved, whatever its origins, will not be given up without a struggle.

  • Power's twin is responsibility ...

  • When you give people power, you give them strength to make you strong.

  • Given a little power over another, little natures swell to hideous proportions.

    • Amelia Earhart,
    • letter to her sister (1937), in Jean L. Backus, Letters From Amelia: 1901-1937 ()
  • Power travels in the bloodlines, handed out before birth.

  • Power can be seen as power with rather than power over, and it can be used for competence and co-operation, rather than dominance and control.

  • ... the possession of power brings on madness.

  • Power is a test — the test — of character.

  • That's the way it is with influence, you know; if you don't use it all the time, people will forget you have it.

  • Power ... is not an end in itself, but is an instrument that must be used toward an end.

  • We are dying of preconceptions, outworn rules, decaying flags, venomous religions, and sentimentalities. We need a new world. We've wrenched up all the old roots. The old men have no roots. They don't know it. They just go on talking and flailing away and falling down on the young with their tons of dead weight and their power. For the power is still there, in their life-in-death. But the roots are dead, and the land is poisoned for miles around them.

  • The problem with addicted people, communities, corporations, or countries is that they tend to lie, cheat, or steal to get their 'fix.' Corporations are addicted to profit and governments to power ...

  • By its very essence power can't be static. It must be used on or against something or someone.

  • ... men never would share power with women willingly. If we wanted it, we would have to take it.

  • The people have the power / The power to dream to rule / To wrestle the world from fools ...

    • Patti Smith,
    • "People Have the Power," Patti Smith Complete 1975-2006 ()
  • Personal power grows out of our integration; it is our expressed integrity. Personal power begins with our relationships with the self and then extends to our relationships with others (interpersonal power).

  • ... power is something of which I am convinced there is no innocence this side of the womb ...

  • I didn't need to be told that Miss Thornless was the biggest wheel of all on Beau Monde. Her secretaries were so elegant they could hardly lift up their heads. With every sentence, they sounded as if they were going to call me an upstart, only they were too exhausted to bother that day.

  • The desire for power is common. The ability to achieve it is rare. The wisdom to use it properly is rarer still.

  • All struggles / Are essentially / power struggles. / Who will rule, / Who will lead, / Who will define, / refine, / confine, / design, / Who will dominate. / All struggles / Are essentially / power struggles, / And most / are no more intellectual / than two rams / knocking their heads together.

  • From antiquity, people have recognized the connection between naming and power.

    • Casey Miller,
    • in Casey Miller and Kate Swift, Words and Women ()
  • The liberation, thrill, and excitement when I climb into the cockpit is indescribable to those who have not taken the controls in their own hands. The sky is not the limit — it's just a view.

    • Aris,
    • in Kate T. Parker, Strong Is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves ()
  • Everything is chance, or nothing is chance. If I believed the first, I would be unable to live on, but I am not yet fully convinced of the second.

  • ... silence and invisibility go hand in hand with powerlessness ...

  • Generally speaking, violence always arises out of impotence. It is the hope of those who have no power ...

    • Hannah Arendt,
    • 1967 in Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Hannah Arendt ()
  • At times it is strangely sedative to know the extent of your own powerlessness.

  • ... it is immoral for powerless people to accept this powerlessness. They may not succeed in getting power but they can fight for it, and if enough fight for it, it makes it very difficult for the people with the big sticks.

    • Jane Jacobs,
    • in Elizabeth Janeway, ed., The Writer's World ()
  • The maxims for success laid out by the powerful are never much good as guides for those who aren't powerful.

  • Powerlessness corrupts. Absolute powerlessness corrupts absolutely.