“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character give him power.” Abraham Lincoln
What comes to mind first when you consider the idea of power? For most people, power is simply another word for control.
The Power of Power
Power can often be the primary driver for many leaders in industry and politics, and obviously for life in general. Abraham Lincoln nailed it, however, when he inferred that while adversity may indeed test your mettle, power and the desire to control will test most every single other character attribute you like to live by.
Although no one likes to be controlled and we like even less the ones that misuse power, we all still desire some form of control over the behaviors of others. We wish we could control people and situations that are not even part of our lives. Tis true!
A Different Interpretation of Power
But what if there was an entirely different mode of power that has very little to do with control? What if this other understanding of the nature of power was in truth a gift to our own world?
My dear friend Dena Crowder offers an entirely new definition of power. What we need, Dena suggests, is: Power To and not Power Over. Power To is empowering and serving. Power Over is an overtly narcissistic effort to convert people and circumstances to our personal ideals, no matter what they may think or desire.
Influence vs. Control
Simply put, Power Over is about Control, and Power To is about Influence. Unbridled power/control appears terroristic and demanding. “Power To,” on the other hand, results in actions of love and humility and compassion.
Which is Your Choice
Influence or Control?
Photo courtesy of Anton Vierietin at istockphoto