On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being most powerful, how powerful do you think you are? Write down your rating now.
OK. Let’s get “physics-al” with the definition of power. Power is a measure of how much work (energy) you can get done (transfer) in an amount of time. Some of the terms we use to describe power include, wattage, horsepower and TNT.
In political and social terms, the word “clout,” describes how powerful one is, i.e., how much they can cause to happen from their effort. Basically, the more the result, the less the effort, the more the clout.
Power is value neutral. It is neither good nor bad in and of itself. When one uses power for the greater good, we regard the use as legitimate. However, when one uses power for self-serving ends that cause intentional harm or shows disregard for others, we regard that use as illegitimate. (Ethics get involved at this point — a discussion for another time.)
For now, let’s discuss our sources of power. How do we come by it? How do we become powerful?
I think there are five primary sources.
1. Position power comes from the position you hold (job title) and the implicit authority to enforce that power. You can demand certain things because you are the boss, and you have resources to enforce (reward or punish) your will.
2. Referent power comes from the power of others, and you have access to it. You act on behalf of them, or in their name. Your boss might instruct you to do something then say, “And if you have any trouble, tell them I said so.”
3. Expertise power comes from your knowledge and skill. Others defer to you, put you in temporary power, when your expertise is needed.
4. Celebrity power comes from being known for some reason. The interesting aspect of celebrity power is that celebrities are often asked to comment or endorse positions and products because of who they are, and not because they know anything about the issue or product. (I trust Michael Jordan’s expertise on basketball, but I think I know just as much about men’s underwear as he does.)
5. Personal power comes from one’s character and the confidence others have in them because of their reputation.
We all access these five sources. But personal power is the most unique of all. It’s the only power that you cannot demand. It must be bestowed.
You can say, “I’m the boss and I say so.”
You can say, “I’m acting on behalf of the president and she says so.”
You can say, “I know how to do this, and you should listen to me because I’ve done it.”
You can say, “I’m famous, and I want you to do this for me.”
But you cannot say, “I’m a great person of unimpeachable character, and I demand this or that.” Only others will decide if you have any personal power.
Those with personal power are truly powerful. Others follow them because of their trust in them.
And here is another thing about power: it’s not bound to an age or a generation. Power is available to everyone, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, creed, national origin or any other qualifier.
Reevaluate each of the power sources. I hope you realize you are probably more powerful than you thought at the beginning of this post.
If there is any source that you have absolute control over, it’s your personal power. Be the kind of person others turn to when they are looking for someone they trust.
And you will be . . .
I’m 10 years old in dog years*. Old by dog standards. The fact that I’m writing this blog proves old dogs can learn new tricks.
When I was a pup, the electric typewriter was the office technology of the day. Amplitude Modulation (AM) transistor radios ruled; FM stereo was still in the future. And not one auto came equipped with a seat belt, much less a GPS or satellite radio.
Every advancement in technology amazed me. I wanted it.
But there wasn’t much I had to learn to use it—just turn it on. FM came with stereo sound; just turn it on. Electric typewriters evolved to offer interchangeable fonts simply by replacing the font ball; switch it out, switch it on and type as usual. But seat belts required a paradigm shift of being strapped into the car and giving up some freedom. I got used to it.
Then computers came along and changed the way I used the technology. I had to learn new tricks. Computers evolved into networks, and networks evolved into the internet, and the internet produced social media. I’ve had to learn new tricks, and I have.
But many haven’t. In fact, they’ve refused. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” they lament, and wonder why they can’t figure out how to turn on their new flat screen HDTV. Duh.
I’m living proof that old dogs can learn new tricks, if we want. It’s all in your head.
Here’s the thing: I’m not afraid of growing old, because it’s inevitable. However, I am terrified of becoming irrelevant. I won’t as long as I keep learning the new tricks. And I love learning the new tricks.
Learning new tricks is INPowering.
New tricks challenge my creative energy. My mind is more INLightened. The new tricks connect me to the world in ways never before possible. Hey, you are reading my blog, and I get to read yours.
I have discovered so many other INPowered people like you through this social medium. You have INLivened my heart.
My world, and the expectations I have of myself living in this world are ever INLarged.
For all you pups, here’s something else to keep in mind. My 18-month-old granddaughter carries her 6-year-old brother’s iPad around to play with apps that she can turn on. Their 8-year-old sister is making her own videos and publishing stories she writes for her family and friends. I’m INCouraging her to go public with her stories.
They are so INPowered, and they are teaching me so many new tricks.
I am one lucky INPowered old dog.
Let’s go wild and chase some cars together.
Let’s be INPowered2 LEAD
[*Dog year (DY) calculation:
DY 1 = 15 human years
DY 2 = 9 human years
Each DY thereafter = 5 human years]
I recently was the guest on a blogtalkradio program, “Meet the Author,” to discuss my book, “Marcus Winn’s Moment of Truth: A workplace story of an INPowering life.”
I hope you will listen in here: “Meet the Author: Garland McWatters”
What’s your symbol of power, freedom and self-assurance? Mine’s an eagle soaring above it’s domain — in complete control. Nothing challenges it. It symbolizes strength and gracefulness combined.
Since I was a kid, I have imagined what it would be like to fly like an eagle. Seeing the world from that vantage point — that point of view. That must have been on my mind when I was asked to produce a video about strength and vision for a client. I was driving the turnpike between Tulsa and Oklahoma City and could not get this image out of my head. I pulled over at a rest stop and wrote the first draft of the lyrics that became the lyrics below. I gave them to a friend who put the lyrics to music for that production.
Now I want to offer these lyrics as a gift to you and to the world and give you permission, to INPower you, to put your own talent to interpreting them through your music or art.
First, here are the lyrics, entitled,
“Through Eagle’s Eyes.”
"When an eagle flies
It owns the sky.
It sees our world from its own point of view.
When dreams take wings,
We see new things,
And there's nothing we cannot do.
And so it seems
through all our dreams
our spirits ride the sky.
While others say
what's wrong today,
we see tomorrow through eagle's eyes.
Dare to think
you can cross the brink.
Stretch your mind past the farthest star.
Don't get boxed in
by other's limits, when
you are more than you think you are.
Only you can know
where your heart must go
to chase your dreams and grab the prize.
Mount the quest.
Give your best.
Your future is in your eyes.
And so it seems
through all our dreams
our spirits ride the sky.
While others say
what's wrong today
We see tomorrow through eagle's eyes."
Here’s my offer. Express these lyrics in your own music or other art form in your own way, and give it back to the universe as your free gift through whatever means you can.
You may use the lyrics in whatever art form you are inspired to use. But you do not have permission to sell the lyrics in that art form. I’m giving you this free. I ask you to do the same with your own talent: give it back free. Just attribute the lyrics to me by name in the credits for your work.
And let me know where we can hear or see your work so I can help you share it with the world.
You can download the lyrics here: Through Eagle’s Eyes
You are INPowered2 LEAD
What is something that you enjoy doing so much, that you get so much pleasure and enjoyment from doing it, that you can’t wait to do it again?
It’s what you would put on your novelty license plate that says, “I’d rather be ________.”
Stop now, and name that for yourself.
Now, think about what you named.
Does anyone have to make you do it?
Is this something that you earn money from doing? (Probably not.)
In fact, isn’t this something that you often spend money to do?
Isn’t this something that you are often so excited about that you want to share it with others?
Then, you are motivated by whatever it is that turns you on.
In a previous post (Trust the Force), I wrote that motivation is a natural force or energy that manifests under certain conditions. In this post, I want to say a little more about motivation and its opposite, coercion.
Motivation, as I describe it, moves one toward a desired outcome. The direction of motivation is important. When we move toward a desired outcome, the anticipation of a positive result causes us to feel upbeat and happy. Our brain processes this experience and tells the body to release chemicals that induce this happy feeling. These same chemicals contribute to our well being and healing.
The next question is, “How badly do you want it?”
The level of motivation, is determined by the intensity of your desire for the outcome. The more you want it, the more likely you’ll follow through. I use a, “how bad do I want it?” scale:
- Sounds interesting. Think I’ll go for it.
- If I don’t have to work too hard for it.
- Unless something better, or more interesting, comes along.
- I’ll make some sacrifices to get it.
Coercion, on the other hand, moves one away from an outcome to avoid negative or punitive consequences. Think of it as running away, as fast as we can, from something we believe will hurt us.
Coercion is fear induced. It’s also the energy of negative reinforcement, which is always a threat, i.e., “Do as I say, or else!”
Coercion is stressful. And when we are stressed, our brain tells our body to release chemicals do deal with escaping from the perceived source of pain.
Yeah, we get moving, but not because we’re turned on. We’re scared out of our wits! The problem is, these chemicals, if they run too long, wreck the immune system and kill brain cells. Yikes!
I also have a coercion scale:
- Mildly threatening
- This could hurt.
- Take immediate evasive action.
- Stark raving fear.
- Imminent death.
Coercion effectively causes people to run the other way psychologically, if not physically. Those who use coercion to make people acquiesce, are not leading—they are pushing and intimidating others to buckle to power, fear or false incentives.
Motivation is an INPowering energy that moves us toward a goal. Motivation taps our hopes, imagination, competence, sense of worth and aspirations to engage us in personally meaningful endeavors. In so doing, we build our confidence and self-worth. We learn new skills. We discover latent talent that might have otherwise remained un-stimulated. We become even more hopeful and eager to enlarge our expectations of living. We become more valuable to ourselves, to our families, to our friends and to our organizations and communities.
So, unlock the creative energy of an INPowering life by doing the things that turn you on. And encourage others to do likewise.
You can live the live you want when you are