What do you think of when you hear the word “power”? Do you think: responsibility, vision, control, conflicts, strength, knowledge, will, double-edged, pride, authority…?
There are three types of power; positional, situational and personal; but I’m going to focus on personal power here.
Think about someone you admire because you view them as being powerful. It could be a friend, your significant other, your father, mother, teacher, brother, sister, etc. It could even be someone you don’t know personally. Someone in the public eye. What stands out for you about this person? Why do you admire them? What makes them powerful? What characteristics does this person possess that enable you to be influenced by them? Think about this for a while.
What is personal power? Let me start with what it is not. Personal power is not authority, manipulation, intimidation or domination (So if you’re looking for ways to do these things, you’ve come to the wrong place). Personal power is intrapersonal, not interpersonal and it’s not dependent on others. It is power that you have complete control over. It’s what you think about you and it can be developed and enhanced, which presents an opportunity for continuous improvement; you’re never going to be stagnate, wielding personal power. Personal power is the full expression of who you are everyday, everywhere and the sense of fulfillment that comes from living a life based on authenticity, conscious choice and accountability.
- Knowing yourself
- Taking responsibility for your choices
- Being able to work independently
- Knowing what you can control, what you can’t control and what you can influence
- Being accountable
- Being able to work interdependently
- Being able to forgive yourself (not being such a harsh self-critic)
Let’s focus on knowing what you can control, what you can’t control and what you can influence. Finish this sentence:
I feel powerful and effective when…
Have your answer in your head or, if you’d like, write it down. Now finish this sentence:
I feel powerless and ineffective when…
Keep the answer in mind or write it down. Make sure you have a clear idea of what it is that makes you feel powerful and powerless. Now look at each of your sentences. Do you (1) have control over it, (2) have no control, or (3) can you influence it? For example: I feel powerful and effective when I’m helping people. You’d be able to control that. You have the choice of whether or not you make a difference. Whereas: I feel powerful and effective when my students get good grades on the exam is something you can influence by your teaching ability, time and effort you put in, but in the end, it’s up to them to do well on their exam. And then: I feel powerful and effective when people listen to me. Is that something you can control? No, it’s out of your hands. Ultimately, it’s on the other person as to whether or not they decide to listen to you.
How did your sentences come out? If they consisted of something you have no control over, you’re allowing your personal power to be taken away and you should reassess what you attach your personal power to. You should tie your personal power to something you have control over. If your sentences reflected that, you’re headed in the right direction. If you’re feeling powerful based on something you can merely influence, you also might want to step back and renegotiate where you’re getting your power. You want to be able to fully control the reasons for your personal power. Because remember: it comes from within.
What of self worth? So often, we compare ourselves to others. In the business world, financially, at school, athletically, appearances, etc. Generally speaking, it’s not productive. We end up coupling our own abilities/inabilities to our self worth. Which is a lie [to yourself] because you can only be where you are, not where someone else is. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not talking: don’t find a mentor, someone you’d like to emulate on your way to being the best person you can be. I’m only talking about that destructive behaviour of examining in contrast what others have and you don’t. Moreover, (Going Tyler Durden here for a sec) you are not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not your grades. You’re not the shape of your body. You’re not what you wear. You’re not your Facebook status or how many ‘Likes’ it got. And you’re not anyone else but YOU (remember: personal power is about authenticity). And if someone makes you believe that you’re any less for being who you are, it’s their issue, not yours.
A good analogy is chocolate. I love dark chocolate. It’s a million times yummier than milk chocolate (a personal opinion I hold-fast to). But say I took some dark chocolate to my friend and he tells me that he hates it and that he’d much rather a yummy Hershey’s milk chocolate bar. First of all, he’s wrong for liking Hershey’s milk chocolate. Okay, okay, everyone’s entitled to their taste and opinion. But here’s my point (yes, I do have one – this wasn’t just an excuse to go off about chocolate) : there’s nothing wrong with my chocolate, just because he didn’t want it. Is the chocolate any less yummy just because my friend doesn’t like it? Heck no! That dark chocolate is the best! So what is it then? His problem. So in our interpersonal experiences, if someone doesn’t appreciate us or doesn’t like us, it doesn’t reflect on us. It’s on them. And you can’t control how other people think and feel. But you can control your own thoughts and actions. So just brush it off and move on.
*steps down from soap box*