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In one of my recent coaching sessions, the topic of power came up. With the end of the year and sales goals looming, my client was beginning to stress about upcoming deadlines and things she needed to do to succeed in her business. I took her along a journey to understand the nature of power and how it applies to her situation:
When I ask you “What is power?” what comes to mind?
In this case, my client mentioned that it was the freedom to be herself, and many people say that—Freedom. So then I asked, well, “What is freedom?”
Her answer was, essentially, ‘Power.’
So in this case she’s defining power with circular reasoning, something we all do. Power is freedom and freedom is power. There’s nothing wrong with this per se, except that running around in logical circles all day makes it difficult to reach our next level in life. If we truly want to take life by the horns and drive, we have to get out of our circular reasoning.
A liberated perspective on power
Power moves energy. But we can only move a thing with more energy than the tendency of that thing to stay in the same state (i.e. this is how we overcome inertia). We have to bring more power into our lives to make the changes we want to make. For the purposes of this conversation, I will define power as your focus on a way of being. By focusing on who you have to be to achieve the goal of making more money, or achieving ideal health, you have to focus on being. Often brute force willpower does not get you there, and it can fizzle out quickly when you are faced with obstacles.
However, a way of being—like generous, caring, flexible and so on does not fizzle out. It’s simply a choice we make. Regardless of what’s happening around us, in our empowerment tradition, we believe that we always have choice. You don’t need to be powerful to choose, choice is something you have at all times. By choosing our way of being and focusing on being that way, we have the power granted to that level of being.
How does who you want to be determine your level of power?
Perhaps you want to be a bookseller, or an insurance agent, or a ‘high-powered’ executive in some large corporation. Each of these roles necessitates a certain level of power. By focusing on being a bookseller, insurance agent, or executive, and by embodying those roles, you will obtain that power.
You’d need to have the power to buy and store and ship books if you were a bookseller. You’d need to be able to represent individuals and companies to large insurance carriers if you were an insurance agent. And you’d need to have the authority to hire, fire, and redefine roles; create strategies; and otherwise administrate your team if you were an executive.
Indeed, society agrees to give each of these roles a certain level of power so that they can perform the functions they need to perform. The key is that you and I let those people filling those roles have that power, because we’re interested in a world that works. We’re interested in roles having the power they need in order to do their job. It just makes sense.
Organizations hire people for roles, and then they have the power that comes with that role. If the legitimacy of the organizations couldn’t give the role enough power to do the job, the whole system would break down pretty quickly and the world wouldn’t make sense. Insurance agents wouldn’t be able to sell you insurance, booksellers wouldn’t be able to obtain an inventory of books, and executives wouldn’t be able to make their organization more effective by building and managing their team. Being able to perform these functions is the whole reason to have power in the first place.
As an empowered person, what function do YOU want to perform in your world? In your community? And what roles have those functions?
This is who you want to be. Once you define yourself as that role, and get society to agree that you are that role, you will start to receive the power associated with that role. In this way, who you want to be, indeed who you create yourself to be, determines your level of power.
Your ability to create ways of being in the world literally determines the type and amount of power that you have access to.
What follows is that you are only limited by your imagination of who you can be to the world! So go out there and create yourself today. The world is waiting.
Thoughts or comments on this? Please use the comments section below.
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