The purpose of power – at its highest and most noble application – is to make other people powerful.
At a material level, solar power is a great example of how this works. The panels on our home convert the sun’s rays into energy that is brought back inside in the form of electricity. We use a lot, sometimes most of what is produced on a sunny day but not all of it.
What we don’t use gets sent back into the larger system to be utilized for other purposes. We use what we need and give back what we don’t. And what we give away makes other things powerful.
At the human level, many people believe that power is to be accumulated and reserved for their own consumption, making it inaccessible and unusable by anyone else. They have not done the work to figure out how much they actually need so they operate in fear that any loss of power is a complete loss of power.
The irony of this miscalculation is that it is the reverse that is true. When power is distributed to others, through an increase in responsibilities, the opportunity to develop and practice new skills, to have greater influence, the power of the individual who helped to make that happen grows even greater skill.
The generous distribution of power converts to loyalty, commitment and engagement. Give it away and watch it grow.
This is #32 in the series, “50 Ideas Worth Fighting For.” Ready for another?
Clean the bathroom.
Make the appointment.
Organize the garage.
Set-up the meeting.
Sweep and mop the floor.
Rake the leaves.
Plan and make dinner. (And do the dishes!)
Just find something that you know the other person – your spouse, friend, colleague or neighbor – is always expected to do and from which they would most welcome some relief!
Trust me on this one.
Really. Trust me.
DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.
I walked out of the house this morning, dog on leash, for my daily dose of exercise only to find a garbage truck broken down in front of our home. We never actually see the garbage man because he usually comes by much earlier and doesn’t hang around very long in the pursuit of his duties.
As I approached I noticed him talking to another man, also from the “waste removal company” who had arrived in his own vehicle to provide service to the malfunctioning truck.
When he saw me, my garbage man that is, he greeted me with what was truly one of the warmest, kindest, most sincerely expressed smiles and waves I have ever received. His energy and spirit of friendship was overflowing and the generosity of his offering it to me so significant that I was momentarily overwhelmed.
This happened in an instant. I didn’t even break stride and I barely returned the greeting, so crushed was I by his unexpected goodness.
All I knew in that moment is that my garbage man is happy. So much so that he can’t help but give it away.
And as I walked on I could only ponder what impression I make on people in that moment, that briefest moment of unexpected interaction. Do they walk away “crushed by my goodness”? Do they get the best of me? Or do I offer something more calculated, more focused on preservation than generosity?
My garbage man is happy. And I am, too. I wonder who knows it.