simply a lie.
it draws its strength from belief.
in what hurts you.
— power – A Poem by Nayyirah Waheed
Let me tell you how power is showing up in my life right now. Can you relate?
I am so grateful for the opportunity to move this weekend. I came to this country when I was 16 years old and I have lived on my own ever since. All I have wanted to do was put down some roots. Whenever I have to move, I often feel displaced as I do not like the stress of moving. However, this time, as I packed up boxes, I finally was able to think about the great privilege I have to choose a place to call “home” and how powerful that is.
One recurrent theme I have seen in clients is a feeling of powerlessness and this week in particular, I found myself reminding everyone, including myself about the three faces of power.
First of all, there is “power” and there is “force.”
Power is defined as “the ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality.” Force is defined as “strength or energy as an attribute of physical action or movement.”
One speaks to the capacity within and the other to the exertion of power. Please note that we have an innate bias to equate force with power but it is not the same thing. My invitation to you today is to pay attention to the nuanced difference in the various faces of power.
An English economist wrote a book called, The Three Faces of Power and his name is Kenneth E. Bouling. He broadly defines power as “the ability to get what we want.” He says there are three distinct expressions of power.
The first is “power over” also known as threat power. This is the power the government has over you. You go speeding down the highway and the police stop you and give you a ticket and make you pay it. This is forceful power. But it has a limit. The cops can only fine you based on the law, and in theory, cannot do more than that.
The second is “power in” which is also economic power. This does not necessarily mean financial power. This is that capacity to dig deep within and tap into ego strengths to make things happen. This usually ties into creating financial opportunities. It is the power in me that gave me the strength to create, design and launch a coaching practice. This form of power is limitless.
The third face of power is “power with.” This is integrative power and rests on relationships such as love, respect, intimacy, community and family. This is shared power that you enjoy with others. This form of power is infinite and unending.
If any of you watched Brene Brown’s Facebook live video, you know she refers to these facets of power.
Why is this important?
The gremlins in our minds, the committee, yeah, those guys, that like to activate the amygdala in the back of our brain and tell us to be afraid? That committee? Well, it feeds off of threat power and sees it as “force” and then our thinking brain, the prefrontal cortex (front part of the brain that thinks) goes in shut down mode and we cannot imagine anything good. (In a nutshell, that is how it works).
We become reactionary and we can no longer respond with intention and with thoughtfulness.
How do we switch this?
What we have to do is consciously step into our personal power, “Power In” and reclaim that we are powerful beings, beloved of the Divine, with a purpose and inherent goodness and that we actually have the power to change our circumstances. We have to remember when we were able to step into our power. We have to take walks. Breathe. Laugh. Hug. Write. Pray. Journal. Paint. Sculpt. Or anything that puts us in touch with our heart area.
Believe me. I am preaching to the choir here. I need this as much as you need this. I don’t want to give it life but I also have been emotionally and mentally affected negatively by all the muckity muck going on out there. And I keep coming back to my heart, my soul and saying, “Soul, why are you disquieted? Don’t you remember all you have come through? This is not the last chapter.”
And this is where “Power with” comes in. We need each other. We need community. We need like minded people. (I am not opposed to talking to not so like minded people. Not at all. We need the dialogue.) But we also need to fill up with each other’s goodness.
So this week, first, connect with that wide reservoir of power within you and then, reach out and be vulnerable to another precious human. Reach out to someone that you can share your power with. Make that invitation to the next person. And share. Don’t be fake. Be real. Ask for support. Ask questions. Engage.
Open your heart up, fellow travelers.
It is the only way to do this journey and get to the destination that we want.
Shout out to my neighbor and her precious daughter who helped me pack up this week and had me in tears as I will miss them terribly but I am only moving to the other side of town! Another friend who is the most efficient person I have ever met showed up and bubble wrapped all my delicate glass stuff. These precious souls shared their power and strength with me and helped me make this move so painless. I am grateful for the honor of sharing power with them.
Tapping into your power is a key aspect of leadership development and it takes emotional intelligence to tap into it. If you want to learn how to tap into the power within you and learn to share power, my arms are wide open for you!
Hugs, peace and tons of power this week!