Power – Marc MacYoung

I have what I call ‘reveal questions.’ These are questions that I don’t care about the exact answers. It’s what the nature of the answer that reveals what I’m looking for.

The answers can be simple statements. Simple, but that if you know what to look, speak volumes. An example is I’d heard about a guy named Rory Miller. I sat down to listen to a podcast by Kris Wilder. Rory mentioned that his adrenaline curve had gotten so far down the line that he needed someone shooting at him to get mildly interested. Kris’ comment was “That’s a good thing.” Rory responded “No, not it’s not.” It was at that moment I knew I had to meet Rory.

Not too long ago I asked people what the word ‘power’ meant to them. The results were ‘interesting’ in a reveal question way. But I also had a few people ask me what I think about the subject. This is both an answer to that and the results of the reveal question.

There’s a marked difference between the ‘definition’ of power by people who
1 — believe they don’t have it/minimize their own power through rationalization
2 — those who have experience with power and
3 — don’t have power

Now those three things ARE different.

First I make a distinction between power and force. Power is long term influence in changing circumstances. Force is short term and task specific.

Second, while both have the common element of getting things done, force tends to be more coercive. Whereas power is more of a long term approach to changing circumstances (including whether to adapt or keep on keeping on in the same manner).

Third, people who do not have experience with dealing with power, tend to confuse force with power. Furthermore they often assume coercion, selfishness, exploitation and disregard for others in their definition of power.

Fourth, an individual does NOT have power. Power is loaned to him by others. Usually so that person can perform certain jobs, tasks and duties that the group needs. An individual is granted these power because his/her ability to get a job done for the group.

Fifth, there is no power without other people doing this. Take the President — often called the most powerful man in the world, but in fact that title and a role that society assigns and agrees is necessary — and drop him alone in the middle of a forest. Where is his power? Chipmunks do not give a fuck who he is.

Sixth, power is given in the expectation that you will perform a specific task/role for the benefit of the group. Fuck that up and you lose power. It’s taken away from you. So a foundation of power is trust.

Seventh, before you start asking ‘but what about dictators? Hint, if the dictator fails to provide line the pockets of the small armed group that supports him, BANG! new dictator

Eighth, a lot of people who have dealt with power talk about responsibility and burden to meet the obligations.

Ninths, a lot of people who haven’t had power talk about it in terms of freedom to do what you want, having all the bennies they see the powerful having and not being ‘controlled’ (read obligated).

Ninth, going back to trust. Given the list of common perceptions by people who ‘feel’ they don’t have power, how reliable would you consider them to be to meet your — much less the groups — needs? In other words, would you trust them not to put their own selfish desires before ‘doing the job?’

That last point, is important to both a lack of actual power and the perception of no power.

Why don’t some people have power? Well the fact that you can’t trust them with responsibility is a good starting point. There’s a song by Jim Croce — which if you allow yourself to listen — you realize what a douchebag the character is. He’s whining about being in a position of ‘powerlessness’ and how depressing it is (after all it’s the blues). But he’s there because he just got out for doing 90 days in county for non-support. And when starts talking about what he’d do to his secretary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfYBtes2EWU

Simply stated such people are very likely to abuse what little power they do have and that is why the ‘group’ doesn’t trust them with much.

As a side note there is one particular group that society doesn’t trust with a burnt out match. The young.

Basically the older folks understand that the insides of their brains are still pink. (Which is technically true because the brain isn’t fully developed until the late 20s.) The significance of this is how many ideologies regarding oppression and lack of power that came out of the 60’s and 70’s were fermented by the young? As in ‘I’m oppressed because I’m (fill in the blank).’ When in fact, a more accurate version is “No, it’s because you’re young and stupid.”

Now knowing this, take a look at what power you have.

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