There are two types of power
Victor Frankl talks about these two kinds of power in Mans Search For Meaning. The book is about being inside a concentration camp (external power) and how he dealt with that situation (personal power).
Authority plays a role in the struggle for power. Whoever holds authority holds power.
I got introduced to the concept of power when I was studying relationships and pick up. Robert Greene's book The 48 Laws of Power was on the list of reading material.
The concept I came across was that every relationship deals with power. At that time I didn't believe it nor did I want to believe it. But because so many of the ideas that I had about relationships were wrong, I dove into 48 Laws of Power.
(If you’re curious about it I recommend getting the audio book. The subject is dense and can be tough to get through the first time.)
The first third of the book had me convinced that I was right. Those with who are manipulative and only out for themselves want power, but that changed slowly while reading the rest of the book. Power isn't something I choose it's something that happens. Just like life being unfair. I can either take advantage of what I've been given or I can complain about everything I don't have.
I was trained to give power to people that I saw as authority.
A crossing guard.
That sense of authority has been so engrained in me. The school system is based on authority. They have the information and I don't. Because of that perceived authority I handed over my personal power.
Power is really about agency and the choices I make every situation.
I have the choice to react and get angry with my kids or I have the choice to try and understand why they are misbehaving (or more likely why I don’t like their behavior) and act out a conscious choice.
As soon as I react (to anything) my power goes to the person who is causing me to react. In the example above, the power goes to my kids.
When my daughter whines about not getting her way and throws a fit, which causes me to react and give in, she has the power. I handed it to her because I allowed myself to react in the moment. If I stopped my reaction and took a moment to think of the situation as a whole and act according to how I want to act (not give in) then I would maintain the power.
I have subconsciously used power to try and get my way. Where it becomes manipulative is when I try and force my authority in order to get others to give me their power, so I can get my way. That’s what separates a bad leader from a good leader. A good leader is given power. People give them their power because they want to, because they trust the leader.
For the most part I am an authority to my kids. They give up their power because they know that I will do everything I can to take care of them. They listen to me and follow the rules that I set up. Until they don’t. Until it doesn’t makes sense. Or until they assume that I would give them permission.
The hard part about parenting is that I want to give my kids power. I want them to be in control of their lives, to be responsible about who they become. Parenting is a matter of when I give them that power, and how much power I give them at a time.
That power and how it’s released can be detrimental.
On to Trump.
Not so much Donald Trump as the President. Any President. The power situation just became very apparent to me during this last election.
To set the stage let me start by saying that I am not political. Besides you've got a brain, think for yourself.
Trump has played the power game most of his life. The only reason he was able to run is because of the power game he plays.
The night of the election I had the Google poll results on my phone and I would check it every now and again. The closer it got to the end the more panicked I felt. I eventually got to the point where I had to compartmentalize the whole thing and go to bed. I didn’t stay up to see the results.
When I checked the polls in the morning I had a sinking feeling. I felt helpless. Like my world was going to fall apart and there was nothing I could do about it. I’ve never felt that way during an election, even when the person I voted for didn’t win.
I spent some time sitting with these feelings and tried to figure them out. It was a version of learned helplessness. It was me handing over all my power to someone who didn’t have direct power over me.
Very little, if anything, that happens over the next four years will directly affect my life.
I don’t say that lightly or passively. I say that because the situation has no power over me or what I can do. My power is mine. I am my own authority.
Simon Sinek put it very elegantly in a video I recently shared on Facebook.