Estimated Lesson Time: 4 minutes
When speaking of a person, and the term “powerful” is mentioned, a common image that comes to mind is a big fat guy in a three piece suit, hair slicked back, smoking a cigar. You can probably picture this guy leaning back in his $3000 leather desk chair, barking commands at his employees. This image of power works well in Hollywood, but in the real world, true power takes a very different form.
Power is defined as the ability or official capacity to exercise control or authority. The abundance of money is often associated with power because it can give one the financial capacity to exercise such control. But money alone does not make one powerful, and lack of money does not prevent one from being powerful. Gandhi is one of the greatest examples of power in recent history. Here was a man of poverty who led millions of people and freed a nation. Having power is not about being feared. As Peter Gibbons from the movie Office Space says about managers who use fear as a motivator, “...but y’know, Bob, that [fear] will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.”
Power is the ability to get others to take action for their own reasons, not necessarily yours. The term “powerful” is a subjective term that usually refers to a) how much control, or influence, one has over another, b) how many people one has influence over and c) the degree of power of each of the people over whom one has influence. For example, the President of the United States is considered by many to be the most powerful person in the world. He has a) a great deal of influence over just about anyone, b) influence over almost everyone and c) influence over just about everyone who has a great degree of power.
Seeking power for the sake of being powerful is a recipe for failure. Power is a result of success; it should not be a goal in itself. People in positions of power generally earn those positions and thus earn the right to, and the responsibilities of power. The moment they abuse the power, they begin to lose it. Power can be a tremendous ally on the road to success if used for the good of others. Following some basic success strategies can help you earn the right to power.
- Make connections. Success often comes as a result of who you know. Those who seek the right connections, or key contacts, increase their odds of success.
- Do favors for others. Do favors, or help others without expecting anything in return. There may come a time when you require something from someone. Those whom you have helped in the past will be much more likely to help you when the time comes. However, don’t expect returned favors.
- Master the art of influence. Influencing others is accomplished through kindness, not loathing; giving others courage, not instilling fear; and winning others to your way of thinking, not manipulation.
- Earn respect. You can’t command respect, you must earn it. Be decisive and fair to those whom you lead. Have a positive mental attitude and offer encouragement. Stand up for yourself and project confidence.
- Be dependable. Do what you say you are going to do and do it when you say you are going to do it.
Money in itself is not power, just like knowledge is not power; it is only potential power. It takes action, backed by other principles of success to create power. Practice these principles and the power that comes with success can be yours.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)