Randall Collins on Napoleon's career:
"Napoleon was a man of highest ability, if we want to use that term. He was a better general than anyone; an administrator who got things done and left permanent effects. He chose his officers and civilian officials for their abilities. What does it mean? A tautology; ability, capability, such words all imply a subjunctive mode, it could well happen, we have every reason to expect that this person will make it happen-- but only because of what they have done in the past. Capability is a false noun; it can only be judged in action.
On the whole, the action we call ability is emotional energy, compounded with good judgment, realistic observation, and the techniques of human interaction that bring other people to join in a collective project and thus make big things happen.
To say that someone has ability but doesn’t use it, means they sometimes show what they can do, but most of the time they don’t. Why not? It is the obverse case of Napoleon. Having traced his ups and downs, we can see even someone at the supreme level is riding in and out of networks and situations where they can generate EE. It is rare that someone can be at the center of networks of networks, hold the connections together, and make big things happen that have been hanging on the cusp of previous developments." #longread