The Measure Of A Man

The Measure Of A Man

The Measure Of A Man

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to explore the measure of a man – as Plato put it – it is what he does with power.

First a quick update:

“Four Steps to overcoming resentment”
Resentment can also lead to obsession, insomnia, stress, depression and spitefulness. We fool ourselves into thinking that resentment will protect us from future pain or that we can use it to punish the other person; we only harm ourselves.

“Subconscious benefits to being overweight”
One client revealed that she wanted to be overweight to punish her ‘lazy’ husband. There is a link between our thoughts, emotions and weight. Watch the video.

Now, let’s talk about the measure of a man – as Plato put it – it is what he does with power.

“In its latest crackdown on school corruption in Detroit, the federal government today dropped a legal bomb on 12 current and former principals, one administrator and a vendor – all of them charged with running a nearly $1-million bribery and kickback scheme involving school supplies that were rarely ever delivered.

“At the heart of the alleged scheme is businessman Norman Shy, 74, of Franklin, who is accused of paying $908,500 in kickbacks and bribes to at least 12 Detroit Public Schools principals who used him as a school supply vendor in exchange for money – some for as little as $4,000, another for $324,000. He secretly did this for 13 years, scamming school after school to the tune of $2.7 million with the help of principals who benefited along the way, prosecutors allege.”

Consistently we read and hear about examples of corruption – the abuse of power. And it’s not a modern day phenomenon.

In Ancient Rome, Marcus Licinius Crassus (115-53 B.C.) was a General and one of the most powerful politicians. Crassus made a fortune in real estate by controlling Rome’s only fire department and blackmailing landowners: “When a fire broke out, a horse drawn water tank was dispatched to the site, but before the fire was put out, Crassus or one of his representatives haggled over the price of his services, often while the house was burning down before their eyes. To save the building Crassus often required the owner to fork over title to the property and then pay rent.”

You may have heard the phrase: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” These words were uttered by Lord Acton in 1887; he wasn’t referring to politics – he was speaking about the Roman Catholic Church.

“The measure of a man is what he does with power. “ – Plato

Power refers to the ability to control, influence or have authority over others. And as demonstrated above and in any reading of the news of the day, there are numerous and plentiful examples of the way people become corrupted when they yield power.

Of course, the corruption of power is not limited to or determined by any particular gender. This same week, a female flight attendant was arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle 80 pounds of cocaine onto her flight. Flight attendants do not go through the same screening process as passengers, and she was caught because of a random screening. She had the power and privilege to avoid screening and she allegedly abused it to commit a crime.

Thus, when Plato used the term the “measure of a man” he was referring to the character of a person: the character and integrity of a person can be measured by the way he responds to the power he is given.

Power tends to corrupt because it:

many opportunities and temptations to amass more power, control, influence, wealth, money, attention, significance and authority over others.
narcissism because of the intense attention & importance given by followers, admirers, and others desperate to partake in the spoils of power or to be part of the power.
one’s morality, values, self-discipline and self-control.
a person into thinking that he/she is superior and therefore immune to laws, punishment and consequences.

This principle of power corrupting applies to police, priests, CEOs, politicians and anyone who has some authority or power over another person or group.

It is only with vigilance and constant monitoring of one’s daily behavior, emotions and thought responses that it is possible to curb and even prevent the corruption of power.

Ultimately, we all know in our hearts what the right thing to do is.

However, what does this mean for people who are not in positions of power or group influence?

The truth is that we are all in positions of power to some degree.

In the French movie, The Measure of a Man (2015), Thierry, a married factory worker with a disabled child has experienced humiliation and betrayal by the system in various jobs, and after one-and-half years of unemployment, at the age of 51, he lands a new job as a store detective in a supermarket.

Thierry is now given the power to monitor and humiliate others – customers or employees, and, management is trying to reduce staff and in order to save his job, he must ensure that others lose theirs.

The movie reveals how he struggles to do the right thing and not compromise his integrity; he must fight to make ends meet and not let the power corrupt him, not use it to be vindictive, bitter or vengeful.

Maybe you are not a CEO, Priest, politician, manager or sports coach. However, there will be people in your life over whom you have some authority or influence. If you are a parent, you have power over your children; if you are a teenager and have younger siblings, you have some power over those siblings; if you are married or in a relationship, you have power and influence over your partner (or vice-versa.)

Even if you are single, self-employed, unemployed or retired, you still have power and influence over others.


Everyone who comes into contact with you is influenced and potentially affected by you. You have the power to make people smile or feel awful. You have the power to inspire or tear down other people in your life and world.

The key point here is that there will always be someone who is in a submissive position to us; it might even be your pet. There will always be someone who needs something from us and that therefore gives us power, even if it is momentary. We have the choice to do the right thing, to treat others with respect, to be kind, just, fair, reasonable and compassionate; we have the choice to say no to the temptation – the temptation to do something that will benefit us and harm others.

“If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
J. K. Rowling

If you need assistance to overcome an issue, trauma or past event, book a one-on-one session with me.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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