The Pledge of Allegiance starts with “I” and ends with “all.” That’s what America is all about - “I” (individual) and “all” (all of us). When all of us understand how valuable each of us is, that’s powerful. And here’s what else is powerful: When each of us understands how powerful all of us are. - Jim Rohn
Power is polarizing.
Most of us can name a half dozen people who have abused their power to cause more harm than good. These are people in our own lives, political figures, or leaders within organizations. We have seen the story play out - someone reaches the pinnacle of success and “lets it get to them.” In a worst-case scenario, we let these stories be the whole truth about power. We limit the amount of power we want to claim for ourselves out of fear. Fear of following the same path or fear of association with the few that have given power a bad name.
At the same time, many of us can name people we deem powerful with admiration and respect. These people may carry themselves with confidence - taking risk after risk. Others have inspired us with their success in moving people towards a single cause. We can look to a speaker on a stage or in a TED video and think to ourselves - that person is powerful.
Most of us can see the power in others, but it is hard to see it in ourselves. In both of these scenarios - other people, out there, have power - good or bad.
When introducing the word power to any client, 90% of the time, they immediately look out there, beyond them. They wouldn’t dare claim that label. This is even harder for women. Others cannot see in us what we cannot see in ourselves. We have to get comfortable with the idea that we have power. When we fail to consider this, we become irresponsible with ourselves and others. We have to see how valuable each of us is, including ourselves.
We are most unwilling to see ourselves as powerful when we view power as a limited resource. We ration or assign power based on some arbitrary scale created by someone else. If you have power, I cannot. If I have power, you cannot. Each of us needs to understand how powerful all of us are. Leaders operate from a place where power is an unlimited resource. They aim to create the largest value for all people rather than allocating it to a few. Power is a pie that can grow large enough for each of us to have a slice.