On the Path of Winners
By Bayo Ogunmupe
How to get what you want
POWER is a loaded word. It makes people uncomfortable. But yet everyone wants power to be able to get what he wants and make others do what he wants, which is what all that power really is. This piece is for those whose goal in life is power. Women are actually more power hungry than men. Studies indicate that while they are in high school and university, they pursue power goals for more than male students. It is impossible to draw valid conclusions from findings, however, until follow-up studies are done to see if the power drive is maintained over time.
Power has only recently become a possibility for women. But Dr. Okonjo Iweala did not lose to Yong Kim on the platter of gender. Kim is just too pre-eminent as a thinker and development catalyst to lose. When enough women achieve power, it is possible that they may change the world. Perhaps then, they may adopt male power patterns. One thing we do know however, is that the man or woman driven by the need for power does not need any test to find out what he wants other than power. He or she knows he wants power.
Damola did not have to seek power. She inherited it. Her father died when she was 30, and left her the sole owner of a vast business empire. No one expected her to be more than a figurehead. Perhaps not even that because she had all her life been devoted to pleasure and excitement. She flew her own jet, was constantly on the gossip columns, her name always linked with rich and famous men. Her father doted on her, amused by her escapades. But he died and the scramble for power and control of his business began.
As first born, Damola was the nominal head of the empire, but the power was in the hands of the director of operations, one who was hungry for power and money, and sure to get it. Damola had shown no interest in her inheritance. She was grief-stricken, gone into seclusion. She emerged to make occasional headlines when she attended royal weddings and involved in automobile crash, forcing her into another temporary seclusion. The business however, went on, suffering from infighting owing to lack of a leader. Then rumours of a takeover rent the air.
Then Damola grasped the power she had inherited. The takeover maneuvers have shaken her from slumbers. She was used to being the heiress, the beauty, the daredevil playgirl. Suddenly, she realised she had enjoyed vicarious power only. The new reality had set the tone of her life. Now, her life was endangered by power hungry employees.
It took less than a year to turn her empire around. She cleared the deadwoods, fired those executives who opposed her – men she had formerly deferred to, now surrounded herself with vigorous executives who were ready to break with the old ways of doing things. Thus at 35, Damola is in complete control of her empire. Now her name is in the financial pages of the tabloids, not in the gossip columns. And she is referred to as a shrewd gambler and brilliant operator, no longer as playgirl and spoiled heiress. Thus Damola discovered power is the ultimate excitement. When one intrepid reporter asked if she planned to get married, Damola answered bluntly, “I could not respect a husband who was not my equal. And there are very few men today who are. Who else has as much power and as much money?”
People who possess power bestowing resources are often unaware of their power, until like Damola, they are in danger of losing it and shocked to realise how much they have been taking for granted. The ability to manipulate effectively is the key to power. Bertrand Russell, the philosopher and winner of the 1950 Nobel Prize for literature defined power as, “the production of intended effects,” which means, “getting what you want.” Howe do you produce those effects? It is by manipulating people and circumstances. Manipulation is the tool of witches. Subtly, cleverly, they push you to corners, misadvise you to get their way. That’s how it works. With varying degrees of skill, the secretary who insists the executive calling her boss must come onto the line before she puts her boss on the phone, the mother who tells her two year-old that it is time for ice cream and juice instead of saying, “come home now it is getting cold outside” are manipulating. And there are many ways to manipulate. Physical persuasion is one. If you threaten a person with violence, harm, he might do whatever it is you want, although he won’t like it.
Physical persuasion is a clumsily primitive method of manipulation. The power person achieves and increases his power by getting people to do what he wants them to by making them want to do it. The most effective tools to accomplish manipulation are flattery, rewards, guilt and fear in that order. For instance, my wife had flattered me over weeks after I had refused to replace a rug soaked by windstorm and our wardrobe mirror she negligently broke. Eventually I was cajoled into paying to replace those items after an initial refusal. It was months later I realized I had succumbed to manipulation.
So when you tell someone she is marvelous, talented, beautiful and brilliant, that person is going to lap it so much that she will be delighted to do anything to please you. Moreover, second hand flattery is also very effective. Things like, “Chike told me that everybody at your office was excited about your new campaign jingle. You must be very inventive. Congratulations.” This bolsters the ego, lets him know you think he is a great artist. If you want to influence someone, listen to what he says. Don’t be alert to the flaws of his arguments. Listen. When he finishes, ask questions, then tell him what you want and point out the areas where you are in agreement. He will be flattered that you have listened intently, that you take him seriously and that you respect him.
My piece on creativity created a furor on the lackluster achievements of my country men in the areas of creativity, discovery, courage and leadership. Femi Ogunsanwo a Daily Times co-worker friend and author corrected me, proving that Columbia University is the leading school among Nobel Prize laureates with Barack Obama as its 96th laureate. It was closely followed by the University of Cambridge, UK, with 88 laureates. Dr. Aderogba Otunla of Bingham University, Lafia, Nasarawa State then unearthed Prof. John Dabiri of Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories in the California Institute of Technology, USA as an inventor and distinguished academic. What we know of him is that he is Yoruba, which means he is either a Nigerian or a Beninois from Benin Republic, West Africa. In 2010, he won the Mac Arthur Fellowship.
Dabiri graduated from Princeton University in Aeronautic Engineering with first class. He went to Caltech as a National Defence Science and Engineering Graduate Fellow. Then he earned a master’s in Aeronautics followed by a PhD in Bioengineering in 2005. He joined the Caltech faculty in 2005. Popular science magazine named him one of its “Brilliant 10” scientists for 2008. His expertise is in mechanics and dynamics of biological propulsion, fluid dynamic energy conversion. His patented inventions includes: self contained underwater velocimetry apparatus. Two, a two-dimensional army of turbines, three, propeller based pulsed jet propulsion system and four, passive mechanism for pulsatile jet propulsion. All patents registered in the United States.