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The philosopher Plato said, “The measure of a man is what he does with power.”
The legendary motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “Men of genius are admired, men of wealth are envied, men of power are feared, but only men of character are trusted.”
Trust and the appropriate use of power go hand in hand.
In this podcast of the Spirit of Leading, I explore power, the sources of power that we have to draw from, and why the right use of power is so important to building trust in relationships and organizations.
Power is the ability to cause things to happen. The quicker one can make things happen, the more power. The bigger the change, the more power required.
- Position power
- Referent power
- Expertise power
- Celebrity power
- Personal power
Courage is easy to recognize, but difficult to pinpoint from where it originates. We admire the brave and heroic actions of others in moments of crisis only to hear them say they only did what was needed.
In a nutshell, courage is the ability to confront physical or moral danger and respond in the face of that danger.
While there are many examples of people being courageous, exactly where it comes from is a mystery. It seems to me there are some common elements that are foundational to being courageous. Here are three:
- Compassion, and
Conviction is the passionate belief in something that compels one to defend its precepts.
As a U.S. Senator, John F. Kennedy wrote in Profiles of Courage, “In whatever area in life one may meet the challenges of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience — the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men — each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past courage can define that ingredient — they can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul.”
The first place to look for courage is you own convictions. We define ourselves by our beliefs and values–spiritual, political, social and otherwise. Naturally we will defend them when accosted.
Ultimately we must look deep within and identify those values and beliefs, that when offended, we must rise up to protest, come what may. That is the essence of our freedom–the right to speak our convictions without fear of reprisal.
The courage of conviction, however, does not mean others must yield to our way of understanding no matter how strongly we hold it. This is where the second source of courage enters.
Compassion is the sensitivity toward the plight of others that compels one to act decisively on their behalf, either directly or through others.
Compassion, to me, is the next step beyond sympathy and empathy. Compassion demands my action. I cannot merely feel for others. I must act on their behalf. To act might require me to go against the grain of my comfort zone physically and emotionally. Compassion can be very inconvenient.
Here is the rub. Because I am compassionate, I will defend another’s right to disagree with my own beliefs. I will show the moral courage to speak out in support of their right to speak their mind. I will defend that right even to those of my own beliefs who will likely ridicule me for doing so.
I know that toleration is not agreement. I know that censorship is a form of cowardice. To be afraid of another person’s ideas is to lack conviction in my own. To invite dissent is, itself, an act of courage.
That brings me to a third source of courage.
Competence is trusting in one’s ability–knowledge and skill–to respond to the needs of the situation. Confidence is a by-product of being competent.
The more competent I am in my ability, the more confidence I have, and the more courageously I will act using those skills. I courageously step forward to use those skills precisely because I know how.
I can confidently make a speech in front of an audience of any size, but don’t expect me to pick up a rattlesnake. I bet there are snake handlers who would be petrified to make a speech about it.
When competence and conviction team up, we get people who understand the rationale behind their beliefs–they know why they believe as they do. Their convictions are authentically theirs, not hand-me-downs.
Moral courage often leads to physical courage
When it comes to moral courage, the words of 19th century social reformer Frederick Douglass apply, “I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”
Truthfully, most acts of courage do not require us to sacrifice our life, they offer us the opportunity to live it to the full. A full life overflows with conviction, compassion, and competence.
Be of good courage, and live
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We often use sports analogies and metaphors to explain team dynamics. However, improv comedy performance troupes are probably a better example.
Improv performance artist
In this podcast, I talk with Terry Catlett, an improv performance artist, about his experience learning to communicate with and trust improv performers in the wacky spontaneous world of improv.
Terry Catlett is a performer, writer, and teacher of improvisational performance methods at the Four Day Weekend academy in Ft. Worth, TX. He has also worked with the Dallas Comedy House. He performs regularly with several improv groups including Atlantic Pacific Billy, Kool-Aid, Franzia, and David & Terry.
The podcast covers several important team building themes that improv performance troupes face: communication, listening, personal accountability, acceptance, being non-judgmental, and working in a selfless and cohesive environment for the team goals.
We hate change because it disrupts our comfort zone. The greater the disruption, the more we hate it. But the cost of not changing might be catastrophic, even fatal.
However, I have to admit that where I am today in my comfort world once was uncomfortable until I got through the change cycle that made my current comfort state possible. Growing pains are inevitable, and we make it through.
Here is my simplified understanding of all change cycles:
1. Things are good, until they are not.
2. Then, things get progressively worse, until one day . . .
3. We decide we must fix what has now become a problem.
4. During the fix, things often get even worse, and we wonder what we were thinking that caused us to disrupt our comfort world. We might even pine for the happy days when things were sublime, even though they really were not that great. We remember that the comfort world had become uncomfortable; hence, the temporary disruption.
5. Finally, we make it through the change process, and everything is much better–even wonderful. We are thankful we persevered through the change, until one day we notice things are not as good as they once were.
6. The cycle repeats.
Admit it. I’m right about this.
During this process there is an escalating cost of doing nothing. When should we intervene and set the change process in motion?
I have learned there are three thresholds when we consider making a change. These thresholds are progressively dire.
Threshold 1: You are not getting what you want from something.
There are early signs that what once worked no longer is. Everything is a little off. The quality of the relationship is growing stale. A product no longer works consistently or reliably. A work process does not yield the returns it once did. Sales are down.
During this stage it’s easy to discount the glitches as an aberration. But they persist and become chronic. Yet, because they are not serious, you let them pass . . . until.
Threshold 2: The pain of keeping the status quo becomes progressively less bearable.
The issues go from bad to worse. What once was a mild irritation or inconvenience becomes a nagging pain. It occupies your attention until it interferes with daily routines and becomes always on your mind. You think to yourself that you really need to do something about it.
Threshold 3: It’s time to do (something different) or die.
You either have a significant life-threatening event (a heart attack, a foreclosure, a bankruptcy) or become debilitated in some way. Life as you knew it ceases to exist. That which began as a mild symptom and progressed into a nagging pain, now threatens your life. Drastic measures are necessary. Everything else stops until the issue is resolved. Sometimes, you don’t make it.
Ben Franklin had it right. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
By helping others understand the intensity of the situation requiring change and guiding them through the process sooner than later,
you will be showing why you are
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Workplace leaders say they want contributors and employees who will give heart and soul on the job, and workers say they want to give heart and soul on the job. Then when we read surveys from organizations such as Gallup that say 70% of the workers in our businesses and industries are dis-engaged from their work, I wonder, why the disconnect? What’s going on here?
In this podcast I share my definition of an INPowering workplace that I have developed over years of going into workplaces of all kinds to consult and train. There is no justifiable reason why your should not and could not be such a workplace.