Growing up, I was always fascinated by the concept of Power. I was curious to learn how this 5-lettered word that manifested in so many different forms, most of them intangible, seemed to be the the most common, underlying goal that people wished to attain.
Why? I questioned. To what end?
Money was the most obvious answer, but I quickly learned that was mainly a facade to a much deeper, and unfortunately uglier face.
I continued to observe and question the premise of Power, and do so even today. Have I learned anything new? Probably not. But I do have my own definition for it today.
A few days back, in my latently questioning mindset about the Power dynamics surrounding me, these words of Seneca that I’d read many times before struck a new cord:
To govern was to serve, not to rule.– Seneca
Power, by definition, is the ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way.
A choice – to act, do something, or not.
Fundamentally, Power seems available to all. But then why in reality, it seems like an invisible face that appears only to a privileged few?
We look for it everywhere, try every dirty trick in the book to attain this Power. We’ve all heard those stories of people losing themselves (and their loved ones) in this quest for Power.
And yet we forget that Power resides right where it belongs – in our mind.
We are so focussed on finding Power, that once we “find” it (or what we think “it” is), we don’t really know what to do with it.
Time and time again, Power, has been used to exploit, coerce, establish authority, and make those who don’t seem to have it pledge subservience.
When the end goal of Power is simply to achieve it, can we expect much more than what it is currently being used for?
In this world of Power to slay, will be ever recognize the Power to serve?
How will we ever shift the Power dynamic from those who want to rule, to those who want to serve – when the only meaning of serving is when it is subservient to Power, how then will we ever associate those who do serve with having any (Power)?
If I think of myself – did I think I had Power? Do I?
A while back, for a class at NYU, I had to participate in an exercise to find out my leadership archetype – Veiled Strength.
I was reminded of this yesterday as I read this opinion piece in the New York Times – A Power of Our Own – I could empathize with the writer, Elena, when she spoke about working from the sidelines because she was afraid of having authority assigned to her. In short, we both don’t like being adorned with Power because we know it’s not the spotlight that matters, but the cause that demands it.
I have never been one to seek authority – through recognition, title, or praise – I’ve shied away from it, but never the responsibility of it.
Quite recently it was brought to my attention by a well-wisher that I am driven because I care, and that I should never not lead with my emotions.
That is where my power lies.
If I choose to act on it.
And I have, and I do.
So yes, I have Power.
It’s been within me all along.
I don’t need to seek it, nor validate it.
But I do need to be aware of it, recognize it, and propel it.
Quoting Seneca again:
(S)He is most powerful who has power over him(her)self.Seneca
Every one of us has the Power if we choose to simply be aware of it.
Power to act, or not.
Power to choose, or not.
Power to live, or not.
Power to let live, or not.
Power to bring up, or bring down.
Power to choose right, or succumb to.
Power to serve, rather than be served.
Power to give, rather than take.
Power to see, or be seen.
Power to hear, or be heard.
Power to change, or remain.
Truth remains we all have the capacity and ability, and above all –
Power to Transform.
So now that I’ve answered the question that I sought out, I’d like to ask another one –
what will you do with your Power?