Do you feel powerful?
Background to this edition on power – When I was in New Zealand recently I spent time at a friend's house and, looking through their bookshelves, I pulled out a book called ‘The 48 Laws of Power' by Robert Greene (no relation!). As I started reading it, I became very disappointed as it was all about devious and underhand ways of getting and keeping power. What I am interested in for my clients, and myself, is how we feel personally powerful without walking over or manipulating others. So I thought I would write an Inspire on the topic.
It is easy to think that power is about hierarchy, with the people at the top of an organisation or government holding power over others. In recent months, we can see clearly that although those people might have the power to create chaos and problems for others, they don't necessarily comes across as being ‘powerful'!
What is power? How is it different from personal power? – The dictionary defines power as:
- The ability, skill or capacity to do something
- Physical force or strength
- Control and influence over other people and their actions
- The political control of a country exercised by its government or leader
- The authority to act or do something according to a law or rule.
But what about personal power, which does not have a dictionary definition, but for me is made up of three different facets:
1. Power over ourselves - our ability to master our mind and our mood in order to get the best from ourselves. It starts with being aware of our thoughts, feelings, behaviour and the impact we have on others and the world around us. Followed by the belief that we have choices and that we can master ourselves and take charge of our lives. And, finally, having the confidence to take action to command how we think, feel and behave to create value in the world.
‘Each of us makes his own weather, determines the colour of the skies in the emotional universe which he inhabits.' Fulton J Sheen
2. Influence over our environment – it can sometimes seem that things happen in our environment that we have no control over. But what I have noticed in my life is that when I am in the best possible state of mind and mood, that either things seem to fall into place, or I am able to get the best out of a situation even if things do not turn out as planned.
‘Do not conquer the world with force, for force only causes resistance.' Tao Te Ching
3. Connecting with others and influencing them – it is very hard to connect with others if we are not in tune with ourselves. When we are at one with ourselves it is easier to connect with others, deal with their foibles, have a dialogue with them and start to influence them appropriately.
‘Sharing a conversation that makes a deep impression, even if just for a short time, is a powerful means for bringing people's hearts together.' Daisaku Ikeda
Where do you feel you have the greatest influence: over yourself, your environment or with other people? What actions can you take to increase your personal power?
How to spot when you are misusing power - It is easy to think that it is only dictators and bullies who misuse power, but we can all, at times, step over the mark and our behaviour then appears to others as bullish or even bullying. Over the years, as I have developed my own inner power, confidence and assertiveness I have noticed the following: others may not feel 100% confident and assertive and, unless I make sure that they are given the opportunity to voice their wants, views or concerns, they might not be forthcoming. This can result in them finding me a bit overpowering – strange as that may seem!!
Look out for the following signs and symptoms and seek feedback from others as to how you are coming across:
- Others are not forthcoming in talking to you about their wants, views or concerns, so you might need to do more to encourage them
- You let other people's reactions and behaviour get to you and you slip from being in assertive Adult mode to Controlling or Critical Parent mode, which is likely to be seen by others as overbearing or bullying.
When and with whom might you be misusing your power?
Dealing with other people's misuse of power - What you can do when you are faced with others who are misusing their power:
- Master your reaction, your thoughts and mood to get back into a calm assertive state
- Deal with your fears and any negative beliefs about the individual or the situation that might stop you from sorting out the situation
- Respond from the assertive Adult mode, sometimes this is enough to change their behaviour towards you
- If necessary talk to them in an Adult to Adult manner about the situation, what you want and need to make your interactions and your relationship with them more constructive.
‘Nobody is as powerful as we make them out to be.' Alice Walker
Do you want support in developing your own personal power or that of your staff? We provide consultancy advice, training and coaching. For more information or to discuss anything in confidence please call Melanie on 01865 377334 or click here to email. For more information about Grovelands visit our website by clicking here.