The best part of just being a face in the crowd is that you get to spend a lot of time watching people in power, whether that be the legitimate power of elected office or the almost completely fictitious power that resides in a fancy sounding title. The most common denominator that I’ve observed so far is simple – the more powerful the individual being observed, the less control they have over their own lives. The ones with real power, the ones who are minor princes of the universe, seem to have their days scripted, their movements controlled, and have barely a spare minute to do so much as scratch their own arse.
It’s hard to believe, but a younger, more ambitious version of me once thought that sounded like an ideal way to spend a career… long flights, clamoring between meetings, and generally being indispensible. With a third of my career in the rear view, I can honestly say that the shine is well off that idea. These days, the last place I want to find myself is at the center of the hive. The older I get, the less inclined I am to let other people dictate my schedule or to cede control over any portion of my life. My one concession is the 40-hours a week that I spend working for wages… and that’s only grudgingly because I like eating and having a roof over my head.
I’m sure it’s a fine way to live and all, but for me, having the maximum amount of personal control over who I interact with, what I do, and when I do it is pretty damned important. On balance, short of being named absolute monarch of a small tropical island, I’m not sure that’s something I’d want to give up – especially not for something as temporal as a spiffy sounding title and not much else.