Power is the basic desire for influence or leadership. It motivates willpower, the need for achievement, and hard work. It motivates us to seek to influence people, events, or the environment. Power motivates the desire to lead and to give advice. It has been said of some powerful personalities that they cannot stand to see somebody go in one direction without urging the person to go in a different direction. Satisfaction of this desire produces the joy of self-efficacy and feelings of competence, whereas frustration produces regret, or possibly feelings of inferiority or humiliation.

The primal association between achievement and power is apparent at athletic contests. When a team scores a goal, for example, the fans thrust clenched fists into the air in a display of power.

I tentatively classify the desire to build things as an influence of will. According to James (1890/1918) and McDougall (1908/2003), the need for construction is as genuine and irresistible an instinct in man as it is in the bee and beaver. The satisfaction of building something is very real, quite apart from the value or usefulness of the object made.   

Please notice that winning and achievement fall under different basic desires. The need to win is motivated by the basic desire for vengeance, whereas the need to achieve is motivated by the basic desire for power. Writing a book and building a house, for example, are achievements motivated by power but not vengeance.    

People with a STRONG BASIC DESIRE FOR POWER like to take charge of situations and assume leadership roles. They may seek out challenges and work hard to accomplish their goals. They may enjoy giving others advice. Personality traits that may describe them include ambitious, assertive, bold, hardworking, determined, domineering, focused, single-minded, and willful.

People with a WEAK BASIC DESIRE FOR POWER dislike self-assertion. They tend to let events unfold without trying to influence them. They may be nondirective and lacking in ambition. They may dislike leadership roles and may dislike giving advice or guidance to others. They may keep their work and career in perspective by giving at least equal weight to personal and family life. They may avoid achievement goals that are challenging. They are not lazy or unconcerned; they are motivated instead by an intrinsic dislike of controlling and influencing others. Personality traits that may describe them include easygoing, laid-back, onlookers, nonassertive, nondirective, and unambitious.

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