In my last Blog I introduced the topic of Power (Power. Deconstructed) and created a useful guide for helping you to critically assess your own views on Power and where you sit in the Power line-up based on your own situation, your own present.
In this follow up entry I would like to take your thinking to the next level, where you move yourself into taking an audit of that information you have collected, by using it to understand how you treat power in both the giving and the receiving, along with the oft forgotten sense of your own personal power.
"Silence, silence," whispered a loud speaker as they stepped out at the fourteenth floor, and "Silence, silence," the trumpet mouths indefatigably repeated at intervals down every corridor. The students and even the Director himself rose automatically to the tips of their toes. They were Alphas, of course, but even Alphas have been well conditioned. "Silence, silence." All the air of the fourteenth floor was sibilant with the categorical imperative. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
In his book Brave New World (published back in 1932), Huxley presents us with many examples of personal power, influence and the impact of conditioning and groupthink. Concepts that over 80 years later are still in play. In the above quote from chapter 2 of the novel the message is that regardless of where we sit on a hierarchy, once power is given away, our subsequent choices, without self-reflection can be further self-limiting.
You will be familiar with the oft used term “Balance of Power”. It occurred to me that this is a concept people tend to think about in circumstances they are viewing as an audience. Take for example, a review of the current political situation in your country, or the politics in your own organisation. My challenge to you, is to turn this reflection to yourself. And do so often, because this can be a helpful exercise for your own thinking and decision making.
Is your Power balanced? It is important to sit back and consider what power you have, what power you receive and crucially, what power you give; and then to ask yourself – is there a balance I am comfortable with?
Sometimes for the very best of reasons we can find ourselves in situations where there is not a balance. Too much power can find you isolated, lonely and in a difficult position of consistent defence (defending your title, your realm), too little power can place you in a position of lack, struggling to find a way forward. There may be times, in order to get things done that you need to strategise your way into one or the other. For the most part though, Personal Power is where its at!
A couple of years ago I assessed my own power position and the results whilst not surprising to me were no less alarming. More so because as an educated and experienced operator I had failed to see myself moving into such a dis empowered position. The good news is that once I knew this, I could then re-balance by making some hard decisions and making firm plans.
A personal Power Audit (once you have critically assessed power for yourself) helps you work this out and is especially useful if you are trying to navigate a complex question or personal situation that you feel uncomfortable about.
Using the below as a guide, and working on the results of your Power Thinking, consider where power sits on the scales below. Be honest, this is a personal exercise.
The power of you
Your own sense of personal power and the power you see in and allow yourself to have. This is true power, unrelated to others, dependent on no one else but you.
The power you give
The perception you project on others, to whom you assume have the mantel of power and allow them to have power over yourself.
The power you receive
The power others project and bestow onto you.
This exercise requires a lot of honesty and self-reflection and can be really be worthwhile. If you are unhappy with where the scales land, then it is up to you to re-balance them. This can be as simple as deciding a few things for yourself and moving towards a better outcome. For me, it meant an honest discussion with myself about how I had let the views of other people shape my view of myself. An easy thing to do and something I continue to nudge the scales backwards and forwards on.
Good luck with your own Power Audit, may your scales balance in your favour.