Power is the ability (present or anticipated) to make choices that bring about significant change, usually in people’s lives, through one’s own actions or those of others. Nengli, the Mandarin word for power, literally means “can-strength,” or “being capable.” To influence others, one must have some understanding and mastery of the situations or things the other person desires or needs. A boss, manager, or employer wields power over employees because he or she commonly controls projects, working conditions, wages, hiring and firing, etc. However, employees hold power, too. They can quit, slack off, form a union, steal pens and toilet paper, undermine coworkers’ morale, provide lousy service, and be all-out liabilities. Employees can also arrive on time, be supportive team players, think outside of the box, and provide world-class service. It all comes down to the power of choice.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”
-- Viktor Frankl
All parties in all relationships have some power. Customers have power to choose to spend their money wherever they please. Companies have the power to alter policies or refuse service. Power can be delegated, but only to those who choose to accept the power.
One primitive but common way of obtaining the feeling of power is by threatening someone with pain (firing, a bonk on the head, no dessert). There is power in threatening pain. But this kind of thought and behavior is a negative misuse of power and is always counterproductive. As any student of world history or “office politics” will tell you, such “power” inevitably builds resentment and resistance. And, there is power in resistance. “Fight the Power” is itself a statement of power.
Someone’s awareness of us and our abilities can have powerful results. People carry archives of knowledge and impressions within their gray matter, and it behooves us to have ourselves archived as a source of power. Powerful people are those with easy access to resources, those who can reliably exercise their will, their ideas, and their way.
Progress Agents are able to show how the choices we want others to make will bring them more choices, more power, more progress. But it is still each individual’s choice as to what to think and believe, and how to act.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
-- Viktor Frankl
Offer the promise of power.
Contributed by: Dean Lindsay, Award Winning Speaker and Author of The Progress Challenge & Co-Author of Stepping Stones to Success