There are various versions of this story, but the common elements are as follows: When the great emperor Marcus Aurelius ruled Rome, he was very concerned about not letting his enormous power go to his head.
He was aware of the tendency of powerful men to get carried away by their power.
It is said that the emperor therefore hired a servant whose main job it was to literally follow him around as he walked the streets of the city.
Every time a citizen bowed down to greet the emperor or shouted a word of praise about his great deeds, Marcus Aurelius instructed the servant to whisper a few words in his ear. These were the words: “You’re just a man. You’re just a man.”
The Roman emperor knew one of the most important truths about power – it does go to the head, and quickly. Part of the reason for this relates to our inherent psychological need for acknowledgment and recognition.
This is one of the two basic needs of all human beings.
We want to feel important.
We want to be recognized.
And the more powerful we become – men and women – the more we seem to lose sight of who we are and begin to crave more power and recognition.