I love watching the power dynamics in teams. In fact in my last job I used to love sitting and quietly watching everyone going about their business, seeing who had the power and who didn’t. The alleged boss of the equals. You know what I mean, right? The team member you always look towards for accountability, or the team member you always turn to when things go tits up and you need someone to dig you out a hole. Also, the team member you’re most frightened of — the one you don’t want to piss off.
Yeah, I used to love watching that whenever I had a spare few minutes. I’m a bit of a dynamics buff. I tend to not only think about it, but I feel it too. I might write about it later but it’s what I turned to, and it was a direct result of moving from being always in my mind to a little in my body too. Essentially my inner synergy was all messed up. But that’s another article entirely.
Power is an illusion.
Well, power isn’t an illusion but the idea that other people have power over you is. I’ve never believed in this since I stopped drinking and fully recovered and healed from my mental health. You see I’ve went on a journey that’s taken me to the furthest reaches of my capabilities (and failures) and realised that the only person with power is me. Of course everyone else has that same power, and I know I’m sounding stupid even saying this but bear with me.
The illusion of power, or when someone grows powerful is when everyone lends their personal power to someone. Take for example a boss in a job. You all lend your personal power to the boss because they have a certain amount of control over you. That boss would have zero power if you all decided to quit at the same time. They couldn’t tell you to do or say anything because you could walk out, effectively taking back your own personal power.
And what if it’s only you that quits? Will that same boss have power?
Oh yes, they’ll have power, sure, but if you were to quit then they would have zero power over you. I mean they could call you names, or offer you a bribe to stay, but then that’s entirely up to you if you are going to give that boss back the power or not.
I can’t think of the amount of times I’ve sat crying over people not understanding their own worth and the power that they wield. Understanding how to utilize your own power is pivotal for success. Understanding where you fit in on a team, or a job, or life itself.
Intimate relationships for example have their own power dynamics.Your wife asks you to take a day off work because she misses you — you decide whether to do it (give her your power), or not do it (keep your power). If you think of it in basic terms like this and expand from there then you’ll begin to understand power dynamics.
Power should also be given away in large doses. Think of it as delegating responsibilities. It’s knowing when in a team to be quiet and listen, and when to speak up. I really don’t mean when your boss tells you to, but more so on a level where you feel comfortable to do your own thing. I tend to like leading, and I also like sitting in the back row. Sometimes people have way more knowledge on a subject than I, so I generally lend my power to them.
But wielding power is also about knowing when to take it back. This is where the illusion of power comes in. People have said to me often that they can’t do something because of x, y, or z. Perhaps their boss is too controlling, or their intimate partner won’t listen, but what they don’t understand fundamentally is that they have the power to do anything they want to (providing it’s legal of course). I’ll tell you a story.
Part of my fully understanding power was my healing from abuse. I won’t go into detail but a lot of that healing was to do with me not understanding the power that I wielded. The person I lived with had me thinking I was worthless and was lucky to have them around. That I couldn’t survive without them. It was that sort of creeping abuse that you only finally notice it when it’s too late.
But then looking back I had all the power in the world. I could have got up and walked out of the house and never came back. I could have phoned the Police. I could have called my friend that was built like a Challenger 2 tank. None of that I did because I was frightened, and I was frightened because I had given my abuser far too much of my power away.
Sure if I had taken the power back I might have found myself homeless for a little while, but a big part of taking back that power comes with a big amount of sacrifice, and that’s when it gets hard.
Power is an illusion because to take it back we have to sacrifice normality. And sometimes we are just too frightened of the unknown. Sometimes the unknown can be petrifying.
Don’t believe me? That the unknown is scary?
I had a friend I had to beg to make a move from Glasgow to London because his job paid £30,000 more. To me that was a no brainer. To him that was a tremendous sacrifice.
So yeah, power is an illusion.
Only you wield your own power. No-one is forcing you to do anything apart from that little voice in your head that thinks, “Yeah, that’s a good idea,” or, “No, that’s a terrible idea.”
I’ve always said that unless someone is physically forcing you to do something, or has a gun to your head, then the power that you wield is your own. Use it as a force for good. Choose wisely.
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