Claiming Your Innate Power
Posted on 5th October 2022 at 15:18
‘Power’ is a word that has been peppering my conversations these last months. I was asked about it while speaking at an event and, most recently, it came up in conversations with two different sets of friends. What struck me about all of these conversations was people were not talking about having power but about feeling disempowered or struggling with the idea they had any power.
Power has become a word which scares people. I can see why. There are so many bad examples of power in the world today; primarily aggressive power and the use of power for personal gain. We shy away from power because we know we don’t want to embody that version. But if the rest of us reject even the notion of power and don’t take the opportunity to demonstrate power in a better way, what will we be left with? Just one dangerous archetype of power in the world.
The word power itself comes from the latin ‘potere’; to be able. Accepting you have power is about acknowledging the agency you have in your life. One of the reasons we don’t like to admit we have power is there are consequences to acknowledging this agency. The primary consequence is that we can no longer pretend to be disempowered. Power is not the problem. We all have power. The problem is deciding what we will do with it. We get to choose to be the example of what power can look like in the world. To show that power can be positive. As Hozier proclaimed in the song Nina Cried Power:
‘Its not the song, it is the singing’
Some years ago, when I was researching the topic of authenticity, something which caught my eye was a lesser-known relation of the word authentic. The word 'authentein' from ancient Greek means to “exercise power or usurp authority”. Connected to the idea of authenticity is that you have power. To recognise you have power over yourself, your choices and how you allow yourself to be used in the world.
Authenticity is not an easy choice. When you embrace the authority you have over yourself and your life, it means taking a stand for what you believe in. A decision to be less malleable. And with that will come discomfort for both you and others. As Professor Stephen Joseph notes in his book ‘Authentic’; ‘Authenticity is a dangerous idea. When people are authentic, they can be awkward, questioning of the status quo and reluctant to be pawns for someone else’. In more simple terms, they are quietly powerful.
Power is not the problem. We all have power to some degree. Who we become, how we live, what we do with our time and talents is all powerful. We just need to choose what we will do with that.
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