Nietzsche’s will to power concept is central to his worldview. There is a frequent misunderstanding that will to power is a lust for worldly power, money or superior position. He actually means the will to intensify experience – the will to avoid internal conflict and forces that diminish us. It is the will to avoid stagnation, mediocrity and weakness. His philosophy strives to avoid feelings of guilt and fear. For example, in sports, the phrase pull one’s punches is used when a competitor is hesitant, timid – when he doesn’t let those punches fly out of insecurity or some conscious or even unconscious fear.
Nietzsche said we should live life without pulling punches. Think of what must be done to succeed in a challenging sport or art. Imagine the tennis serve of a champion or the perfect execution of a musical phrase on the guitar. It’s executed with simplicity, certainty and perfectly integrated movement with no loss of energy . Contrast that with a beginner – who tries, but whose movements are chaotic, uncoordinated – pulling punches rather than following through. He never stops criticizing himself, muttering “I suck” each time he misses a shot or hits a wrong note.
Nietzsche approaches morality the same way. He opposes all ideas (slaughtering all sacred cows) that work against the mastery of self, which is made possible only by harmonizing and hierarchizing the chaos of forces within us. Self-overcoming and self-enhancement instead of yielding to some ideal handed down from human history. Master morality instead of slave morality as my 6/22/15 post pointed out.
Thinkers who disagree or think Nietzsche is “wrong” are irrelevant to his philosophy. I can hear him laughing at critics because his ideas cannot be evil or wrong if wrong and evil are artificially constructed human ideas, which he proposes to move passed. “Good” or “correct” or “right” are limiting, biased, reactionary forces. As opposed to science, which is negating, requiring someone to be right and someone else wrong, Nietzsche’s philosophy is like art, it just is. How can Mozart be right and Bach wrong, Van Gough correct and Monet incorrect? Nietzsche’s ideas are “beyond good and evil”. I know… pretty scary – told you this was gonna hurt. The truth hurts – becoming aware that truth itself is fluid and culturally imposed… hurts more.
According to Nietzsche, life is a journey to becoming a self-mastered individual who has achieved full power: an Übermensch, or an Overman. We’ll conclude the series next week with a focus on how all this relates to estate planning – it does!
By the way – here’s how to become an Overman in seven easy steps (ha!)
I like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 6 rules of success better but this isn’t a self-help blog. It’s an economic and legal personal War Chest.