Lesson 3 – Next: lesson 4
Here’s a great challenge for you – define personal power. If my daughter asks, ‘What does ironic mean?’ or ‘Why did they get divorced?’ I get a bit tongue-tied. I promise you, I do know what ‘ironic’ means and I know why her friend’s parent’s divorced, but explaining these concepts to a child is like trying to explain to my Chihuahua why she doesn’t need to bark at the wind!
However, with personal power, most people are like my daughter or our Chihuahua. They lack the reference points to begin to understand it, so explaining or defining personal power can be next to impossible. They may think it has something to do with having values, affecting other people or being able to make things happen. The problem is that having values alone doesn’t do anything, manipulating people is also affecting others and forcing something to happen all fall under these descriptions. We could even say that a bully could have values, affect others and make things happen, but a bully comes from displaced anger, not necessarily personal power.
These definitions have something to do with power, but you’ll have no true personal power without a few other things such as the energy of personal power and intent.
Let’s look at what personal power looks like:
“A Little Brown Man”
What a way to describe Gandhi, right? Actually, I guess it was divinely perfect that he was ‘little’ because it further illustrates his personal power.
At his memorial service, he was described as a man who had nothing – no land, no title, no fortune. I bet you’re thinking that’s wrong – I was! No land? He lead a country’s independence, how could he not have land or a title? And then you are reminded that he cleaned toilets! Let’s sort through and make sense of all of this.
Gandhi is easily the greatest example of personal power. He has aspects of personal power, like coming from his values and having the energy and intention within him. He resonates personal power so that you can see it, feel it, sense it. Ben Kingsley did a fantastic job of playing Gandhi and bringing that sense of personal power forward. If you haven’t watched the movie Gandhi, I recommend it highly.
First let’s get to the basic idea Gandhi had, which was that citizens of the empire (of England) should all have equal rights. He should be able to buy a first class train ticket and ride in the first class car and he should be able to walk down the street on a sidewalk next to a white person.
Gandhi’s belief was based on his value that (as the bible said) all people are children of God, and he felt this was worth fighting for.
So, Gandhi had a conviction that came from within himself that was based on his belief and value. I like the word conviction here because it begins to suggest a force, which was energetic for Gandhi.
Sometimes to paint a picture (of personal power, in this case), contrast is a good way to understand black in the presence of white. So, let’s look at an example of someone who also has conviction based on beliefs and values, but lacks personal power. For the purpose of our blog and our lesson on personal power, her name is Teal… Teal, someone who worked for me, was a very nice, helpful and intelligent woman. She held many convictions about how the world should be and was vocally against things like big oil companies, which she’d warn you against, or harmful chemicals in things like GMOs. However, like a dog who’s bark is bigger than their bite, her strong convictions, beliefs and values didn’t go any further than a Fb post or a heated conversation.
This brings me to an interesting point in life: you and I are limited.
We can’t have 100 convictions or intentions. We can’t be for several good causes and really do them any good. There are people who you can classify as being full of hot air in the sense that they say a lot, but that’s as far as they go. They have 101 convictions and grievances in life, and they’ll tell you all about them, but that’s it. There is now power within them as they are neither affecting themselves or their lives. That’s not to say that we aren’t entitled to our own opinions, but my point here is that hot air doesn’t look good on anyone; people recognize that you are fluffing your feather to look strong (and maybe smart) but, unlike a bully, you aren’t doing anything about it. Subconsciously, we dismiss this kind of person because we know they complain a lot and lack personal power.
This kind of person tends to be passive aggressive because they take little to no action, the passive side, but are aggressive in their words or actions with others. Similar to the bully, this too is displaced anger.
Having a Cause
Then there are people who are all for their cause, putting action behind the power of their conviction. They feel, for example, that testing on animals is wrong (I don’t disagree), so they break into laboratories and free monkeys at night, destroying as much of the lab as possible. Two of the problems with having a cause are that the cause often has nothing to do with you and your life; second (which is almost always true, but not always) people who have a cause use force and cohesion to better the cause, and this is another form of bullying.
See, there was a reason Gandhi didn’t just allow the mob to take on a mob mentality and fight the English soldiers when he was rallying the troops. Within his values, Gandhi realized that his belief dictated that he value himself enough to be treated equally. In valuing himself, he wasn’t going to turn into a bully, a violent man or an angry one . He was going to be a man with and of value, which required him to have integrity, not anger. He held his belief, that he was equal, and didn’t turn himself into an a soldier or a warrior.
We see, then, that one way Gandhi held his personal power was by holding himself. He never sacrificed who he was. There are a lot of shows on TV about someone who joins the FBI or the police force or such and winds up doing things they never thought they would do, like killing people or lying and manipulating others. The idea is that once they are ‘in’ the covert world they entered, things are different and they have to play by a different set of rules. This changes them and they lose their values – In Person of Interest, John (one of the main characters) is ex-CIA or ex-covert ops. He’s extremely good at what he does, but he’s complete lost a sense of himself and of having his own life – and it has everything to do with having sacrificed his beliefs and values because of what he’s had to do in his career. In the show, he is now a vigilante with new values to try to help the world, but one struggle in the show is still the loss of his sense of self. He has personal power because he has tapped into a new conviction – of being a vigilante.
The First Causality
You have to know yourself when you create your own values, which turn into beliefs, and when you do, personal power has everything to do with honoring this in yourself. Gandhi allowed himself to be beat, jailed, humiliated…. But he never sacrificed himself. Cool, right? Amazing, moving and inspiring! (If you’re not inspired, watch the movie, maybe I’m not capturing it well enough 🙂
In the movie when talking to a large group of men about the movement, his words were something like ‘we can be beat and jailed and I’m willing to dye for this, but no matter what they do to us, they can’t take our obedience.’ In other words, no matter what you did to Gandhi, you didn’t own him, his spirit, his will. He also said ‘for this reason, we can’t lose.’ When you have all the ingredients for personal power, you can’t lose. It’s true and it’s very important to remember because this truth can help you keep at whatever you are after.
The prize personal power brings is the ability to live who you are, as illustrated by Gandhi.
There’s no Power Where There’s no Intent
So, our recipe for personal power includes self-presence (LINK AT BOTTOM), which is the personal part that brings your energy forward, and intent. Your intention has to be about something, since you intend to do or be something.
You can intend to pressure or bully someone; you can make things happen (so that you are living your beliefs). How you go about your intent has everything to do with personal power.
A Subtle Difference: Making & Forcing
Ok, right now, I’m unhappy with the word ‘making’. I need another word because ‘making’ can look like forcing. True personal power taps you into the flow of you (or your Source Energy, God, Higher Self, the universe…) and when you are in that flow, you are more powerful because now the universe is conspiring to support you. Back to Gandhi, he was joined by many people, such as a priest, who believed in equality too and they believed in Gandhi so much so that some left their lives to dedicate themselves to Gandhi’s cause. This is what it means to influence others.
It is also ‘making’ it happen, but a better way of phrasing it would really be ‘allowing ‘ it to happen. Gandhi allowed people to join him, sometimes because he rallied the troops, other times because they heard about him and asked to join him. Personal power requires action, but not necessarily force. Gandhi had personal power, the mafia had guns. Both had intent. The point: when it applies to personal power, intention is about allowing things to happen (as you simultaneously take actions) because, when you are tapped into universal power, the universe and life seem to be on your side, just like the priest, helping you change your life in accordance to your values and who you are.
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