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Meat Eaters vs. Grass Eaters: Personal Power

Many years ago as a very young officer, a grizzled senior officer whispered a comment in my ear. He said “ Lieutenant, there are two types of people in this world. There are meat eaters and grass eaters.” Then, as though he wanted to ensure I heard him, he moved away from my ear, looked me in my eyes and said in a firm and undeniable challenging tone—“which one are you!”

The connotation was clear. You are either powerful or weak. You make things happen, or things happen to you. You are a lion or a lamb.

I have written about organizational power; I have taught the elements of National Power to senior military, government officials and business leaders from the U.S., and it’s allied nations. It is time to address personal power.

I have seen executives, and want-to-be executives, do some of the most amazing things in the hopes of building power. Does any of this sound familiar—not sharing information, asking the unanswerable question during a brief in front of senior executives, cutting a person off in mid-sentence to get their point made. I am always amused at these next two habits: spreading rumors, and better yet, starting rumors, and never shutting up.

Why would a person do such things as noted above? You know the answer—make points with the boss at the expense of someone else. This person views everyone as competition or a needed stepping-stone.

Being a “Meat Eater” is not a license to win at the cost of another. It is not about eating your competition. It is about understanding how to lead and lead effectively.

This short piece is addressing the thing all good leaders must be aware of—Personal POWER. We all have power. What are the elements of personal power, and how does one use those elements properly? To keep this read short, I will identify the elements of personal power and in following articles I will speak to each element in more detail.

The elements of personal power are Diplomacy, Information, Manpower, Economics, Professionalism, and Competition (DIME-PC).


Diplomacy is building and maintaining relationships outside of your personal sphere of influence. It is not becoming a sycophant. It is about having mentors. Take note, the powerful have many mentors. Mentors should be both male and female. Mentors should cut across ethnicities, race and culture.

Diplomacy is also about expanding your horizons with friendships. It is often said, and correctly said, if you are the smartest one in your group of friends, you need another group of friends. I advise you to expand your group of friends.

I will discuss diplomacy in the next article in more detail. Stay tuned.


Information is what you know. More importantly this element of personal power is about what you know, whom did you tell, and what are you doing about it?

Information must flow like the currents of the ocean. Just as ocean currents affect weather, the flow of information affects an organization. Not passing information in a timely fashion can mean missing an opportunity or going out of business.


Is your team trained and capable of performing the tasks required? All too often, leaders fail miserably as a result of having an unprepared workforce. In the end, it is producing results. The grass eaters make the unwise attempt at doing everything humanly possible to produce results personally, rather than delegate to a trained and ready team.


Economics is about understanding the resources available to accomplish the job. Equally important it is ensuring you have command of those resources.

A resource is more than money. It is having sufficient manpower. It is having the right material and in sufficient quantities, and the greatest resource of all—time.


Professionalism is the most misunderstood element of power. Being professional is having a sense of self. It is having perspective. Being professional is being resilient. It is never being satisfied, and always alert.

Being professional is understanding the need to improve one percent a day every day.


Being powerful is understanding how to be competitive. One must learn how to compete against the most difficult opponent you will ever face—yourself.

On any given day, anyone can beat anyone else. The 100lb weakling can beat the 250lb bruiser. Given enough time one will always figure it out. Beating yourself on a daily basis is tough. Being better today than you were yesterday is tough.

When one competes against oneself it is easy to root for the other person.


Every person has power. Using it or not is what will determine if one is a meat eater or a grass eater. Some misuse power. They mistakenly believe by leaving a wake of destruction in their path is the way to build their personal power. What they are building is a reputation that breeds contempt.

Learn the elements of power. I will, over the next few writings delve deeper into the elements. Keep reading and enjoy the steak.

© 2015 by John Boggs all rights reserved.