Not once in my life did anyone talk to me about power or how to handle it.
Here I’m speaking about personal or position power – the ability to influence people simply through “being” – maybe because you’re someone’s oldest brother, boss or guru.
Because I had little knowledge about this critical aspect of management, I stumbled around with a hiring / firing stick in my hand and pointed it indiscriminately at anyone in my vicinity. People would be shucking and diving, growling and conniving while I wandered around, horribly oblivious to the consternation I was causing. “Why’s everybody so edgy?” I would ask my apprehensive charges. I genuinely did not understand the circumstances I was creating.
“I think my new thing will be to try to be a real happy guy. I’ll just walk around being real happy until some jerk says something stupid to me.” Jack Handy
The Lights are ON but…
As I was growing up my parents were always quick to warn me about vacating a room while the lights continued to burn. They were concerned about my adherence to the “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” concept of wasting electrical power.
My folks were right to advise me of oversights because without their intervention I would have sauntered out of that vacated, power soaked room without a second thought. After all, wasting electrical power is kind of a past time in North America and while everyone knows it ain’t right, we do it because the consequences seem slight, if any.
It was not so cut and dried with my personal or position power because it insidiously cloaked me like the malodorous duo of bad breath and body odor. And similar to the effects of that unintentional olfactory barrage, my unaware wielding of life altering power harmed people in ways I found difficult to imagine.
Hurt People Hurt People
Those people whom I unconsciously negatively affected responded in a puzzlingly appropriate manner.
They fumed, fretted and finagled themselves through my maze of management hoops, wasting no opportunity to undermine me with colleagues and superiors.
Yes, the upheaval I created by careless dispensation of power soon and regularly came back to bite me on the rump. It took me many years to visualize what my reports had noticed right from the get-go. My inability to handle power was a huge tax on the potential of each person I managed and we both lost in the struggle for redemption.
After much time contemplating the pools of power that exist in our society I now have a whole new respect for it. Power in signs, uniforms and people intrigue me today. I see it everywhere affecting everybody.
Now I understand that being aware of personal power allows it to be directed.
And I don’t waste it anymore because I have absolutely none to spare.
Thank you, friend.