How to Avoid Abusing Power

“When we receive power, it feels like a vital force. It surges through the body, propelling the individual forward in pursuit of goals. When an individual feels powerful, he or she experiences higher levels of excitement, inspiration, joy, and euphoria, all of which enable purposeful, goal-directed action. Feeling powerful, the individual becomes sharply attuned to rewards in the environment and quickly grasps what goals define any situation. At the same time, surges of power make him or her less aware of the risks that attend any course of action. This experience of power propels the individual forward in one of two directions: toward the abuse of power and impulsive and unethical actions, or toward benevolent behavior that advances the greater good.” In an adaptation from his new book, Dacher Keltner explains the secret to gaining and keeping power: focus on the good of others.

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