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Everyone wants power. Everyone wants... wait, what's that? You, in the front row, what are you yelling? Oh, you don't want power. Okay. Let me start again.

Everyone (except that woman in the front row) wants power. It's what drives us all... hello, excuse me, you folks there in the back, could you please stop crunching so loudly on that popcorn? I swear, you're just making this more and more work.

Which is, I suppose, the real point. With great power usually comes a lot of work. The dream of power conjures images of sitting resplendid on a throne, occasionally deigning to decide the fate of nations, but spending most of the time eating peeled grapes served by lightly clad assistants of the appropriate sex.

The reality is that grabbing power inevitably brings more work and more responsibility. The peeled grapes must be tossed aside as you study the drainage plans for the kingdom, least the flood sweep your peasants away. Or you have to spend half your time managing your treasury staff, least the gold be squandered on your cabinet's pet projects. And every wrong decision makes your grip on the reins more likely to slip from you-- every time you exert your power, you endanger it.

Let's look at some case histories, with names removed to protect the ambivalent.

Person X hits upon a multi-million dollar success. For the first year, X's only thought is to travel around the world avoiding all that responsibility back at the home office. The power, and responsibility, and work, is too overwhelming. It's extremely demanding.

In later years, when X does make a bold decision, there is instant industry backlash, outcries of abuse, and general feelings of doom. What fun it must be, eh? To have your every move scrutinized by the fearful. Whee. But what if the stakes aren't involved with money, simply with raw influence. The sort that gives you control over the (recreational) lives of hundreds of individuals. Person Y, in a volunteer organization, controls all of their PR resources, all of their Internet resources, and has all their contact information. It would be a trivial matter to take over the organization-- in fact, that's an endless source of amusement to Person Y. It's almost a running joke, whenever some decree from "the top" (the elected officers) runs contrary to Y's wishes. But Y forbears... why?

Well, Y isn't stupid, for one. Having potential control, and actually taking over, are far different critters. Potential is fun. You can imagine what you'd do with it, create pleasant fantasies of dominion and excess. But actually taking control, ick, yuck. Then you'd have to do the work! No fun at all.

But why do the work? Person Z built a grand organization, with Z at the head. Indeed, loyal minions were doing much work, all in Z's name. Z's reputation sailed, and the esteem this caused brought influence and power to Z. Z was someone whom others had to be pleased, least that engine of power be turned against them! Z was a good leader, though, not abusing this power, simply enjoying it, while faithful minions carried on the daily tasks.

But Z went napping for a bit, and when Z returned, all had fallen into shambles. The minions, lost without a guide, had dispersed. And when Z tried to reassemble the empire, well, much work was required. Too much work, it seemed, for deadlines were missed and that certain special quality wasn't quite recaptured.

Person W had different plans. W was going to take over the world, one bit at a time. And indeed, W is succeeding, in a slow fashion. First W cornered one area, than another. And each conquest took a bit more of W's resources, added a bit more to the workload. Will W break, or will the world-conquering plans succeed? Ah, time will tell... to answer everything would ruin the promise, the lure of power.

Just remember, the joy is in attaining it, not in having it.

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