Power, Prestige or Money: What Drives Us

“All the people in this room are motivated by power, prestige, or money. Which do you think is most important?”

That was the question asked of me recently by a managing director of a large European bank who had asked me to speak to about 200 top executives. Let’s take them one by one.

I remember David McClelland, my mentor years ago in grad school, making a crucial distinction among people who are motivated by power: whether they seek power simply to aggrandize themselves, or for something beyond themselves. The first group, the genuinely power-hungry, include “unhealthy” narcissists and Machiavellians – people who care only about their own goals, without caring about the consequences for other people of what they do (as I detail in the chapter on the “dark triad” in my book Social Intelligence).»

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Biological Allies

When I wrote an essay in the Science section of the New York Times on how we are connected to each other physiologically, and so can be biological allies for loved ones in distress, it became the “most e-mailed” article in the Times that day. The idea that social neuroscience sees people as connected physiologically strikes a chord – we all sense it. The implications for emotional suffering – and perhaps for disease itself – could be profound.

My friend George Kohlreiser, who teaches leadership at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland, called my attention to a remarkable interview with Dr. James Lynch, one of the first scientists to study the profound impact on the cardiovascular system of our relationships.»

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Friends for Life: An Emerging Biology of Emotional Healing

A dear friend has been battling cancer for a decade or more. Through a grinding mix of chemotherapy, radiation and all the other necessary indignities of oncology, he has lived on, despite dire prognoses to the contrary.

My friend was the sort of college professor students remember fondly: not just inspiring in class but taking a genuine interest in them — in their studies, their progress through life, their fears and hopes. A wide circle of former students count themselves among his lifelong friends; he and his wife have always welcomed a steady stream of visitors to their home.

Though no one could ever prove it, I suspect that one of many ingredients in his longevity has been this flow of people who love him.»

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Environmental Threats to Healthy Kids: A conversation with Daniel Goleman and the Collaborative for Health and the Environment

Daniel Goleman and Michael Lerner of Commonweal discuss the “neural ballet” of social intelligence, the sociability that connects us brain to brain with those around us, and the implications of both social and emotional intelligence for environmental health. What are the intersections of social and emotional intelligence with environmental contaminants? To what degree can social and emotional intelligence protect us from the cumulative impact of other forms of stress? Listen to the interview.»

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