“Consciously Choosing Power With versus Power Over”
This key is vital because when leaders live and work without a healthy relationship to power, it undermines all the other vital keys and systems in our world. This key encourages people to explore their own relationship with power and how they have used or abused it. When our relationship to power is unhealthy, we tend to manipulate and harm others. This leads to violence. Violence begets more violence, and history has shown that the widespread misuse of power can destroy entire civilizations. When our relationship with power is healthy, we create environments of trust, and naturally motivate others to do the same, empowering positive change in the world.
What is power really? The word “power” originates from the Latin root “posse,” which means “to be able to do something.” This is a pretty neutral definition. As time went on, however, the word began to take on new connotations that were increasingly one-sided, such as “strength, vigor, might, especially in battle,” “control, mastery, lordship, dominion” and “legal authority.” These latter definitions moved the meaning of power in the direction of what I call “Power Over,” as opposed to “Power With.”
- “Power Over” means using power in order to dominate others, generally through the use of force — physical, verbal, emotional, or otherwise. Power Over occurs whenever someone demands that an action be taken without the knowledge and/or consent of all those affected. In its most severe form, those affected are not even allowed to have a voice; they are provided no opportunity to comment or respond, either before or after decisions are made. Even more importantly, the people using Power Over gain most or all of the benefits of the decisions that are made, while those being “Powered Over” gain few or none.
- “Power With” means sharing power by treating others as equals, and effecting change through collaboration. Power With is far more balanced than Power Over, since it seeks equitable distribution of both power itself and of the benefits derived from whatever action is taken. Power With occurs when leaders seek consent in making decisions, and take into account the concerns of all those affected, regardless of their status. Power With invites everyone involved to participate in the decision-making, not just those “at the top” whose view may be far too rarefied to know all the details of what Is, and of what is Possible.
There is also a saying that “hurt people hurt people” — that is, people who have been wounded, or consistently Powered Over in unhealthy ways, often respond by passing on their hurt to others. Our deepest hurts usually originate in childhood. In adulthood, those original injuries (or “core wounds”) can trigger knee-jerk reactions that can hurt both others and ourselves. People who are Powered Over feel anger, resentment, and a desire to retaliate, or else they withdraw. This, in turn, can create new wounds, along with anxiety, low confidence, loss of self-esteem, and loss of inspiration and enthusiasm. Such disempowerment is also a constant source of stress, leading to the feeling of not being safe in the world. This can be witnessed in our families, our work environments and even in our countries — here and abroad.
In fact, top-down leadership and management have dominated our world for centuries. This is Power Over! It is now time to recalibrate and reconnect to our divine power source with a conscious understanding of what power means in our lives, and how we use it on our own behalf and on behalf of others. Although there are times when Power Over is a necessary option, I advocate minimizing Power Over and maximizing Power With. And most importantly, I urge that the choice of which form of power to use in any given situation be made consciously, with care and deliberation, not because we’re “running on automatic.”
When leaders choose Power With, when leaders choose love over fear, they align their personal power with divine power, and so many things can change. First of all, the disempowerment that comes with Power Over can lift, and all the associated issues can begin to shift. Confidence, self-esteem, enthusiasm and mutual support can be restored. Power With does not incite a desire for violence because it isn’t using force as its base. It is using our mutual connectedness and shared desires; it is using the power of infinite divine energy, and this means that it does not need to make anyone “less than” in order to proceed. With infinite underpinnings, there is room in Power With for everyone to shine without anyone losing anything.
Our most brilliant and effective leaders, mentors and guides are those who live by Power With. They impart wisdom without ownership. They demonstrate courage and strength. When needed, they take well‑thought-out risks in order to help evolve our consciousness and create a better world for all. They exhibit a willingness to be vulnerable and admit weaknesses or areas needing improvement. They find ways to discover who their people are and evoke the best in them, nurturing their gifts and strengths. They avoid labels, don’t box others in or engage in backroom gossip. They are in service to humanity, not self-aggrandizement. These extraordinary leaders leave a legacy that can be carried forward even in their absence. The exploration of this Vital Key on Power can help us to evolve the type of leadership that can serve to create a more sustainable, beautiful and thriving world.
May we each consciously consider the best use of power in all our decisions from the personal to the global.
With Great Gratitude and Honor for the Courage it Takes to Be the Leaders of Our Own Lives that is Called for During These Extraordinary Times,
~ Joyce Anastasia
Join us on Monday, June 22, 2015 to help create a movement of people consciously choosing to demonstrate new ways of leading with wisdom...evolving our extraordinary leadership from the personal to global from the inside out. You are invited to go to www.leadbywisdom.com or
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