by Sheila Adams, M.A. Organization Development
Power is an intriguing subject. Often misunderstood and misused, it can be used to heal as well as harm. Its basic definition is “a controlling influence”. Examples of large scale uses of power on both ends of the spectrum range from policies and actions taken to oppress groups of people based on race, religion or economic status (ie Hitler), to Martin Luther King’s efforts toward equality of dignity and opportunity for all people.
The beneficial use of power doesn’t have to involve ultra-heroic leaders impacting massive numbers of people though. Every single one of us can take on the hero’s journey to use our personal power to heal. I was so inspired by the story of Roberta in the recently released movie, “Music From the Heart”. She was an everyday woman who needed a job, but turned that job into an opportunity to touch the lives of over a thousand kids and their families. It’s important to have these stories told, like that of Jaime Escalante (“Stand and Deliver”), and Patch Adams; told, so that we are reminded of what is possible on a personal and local scale, and how that impact can spread. If each of us did just the minimum of improving the quality of our interactions with the people whose lives we touch on a daily basis, just think how that influence would build and spread.
I went to Mexico recently with my husband and was touched by some special kindness showed to us there: the man who crossed a language barrier to gently point out an empty seat on a crowded bus (he didn’t know I could speak enough Spanish to understand him); the man at the golf course we played at who overheard our inquiries about transportation into town and offered a ride. Small gestures, big impact on me personally. What if the majority of our interactions with each other were of this quality?
What about the people who live out these kinds of gestures day in and day out? They’re all around us and their stories need to be told, to inspire us as well as to acknowledge that this is what we choose to honor and pay attention to. We need these stories to help us overcome the mass despair and apathy caused by the unceasing coverage of violence in the media.
These are my own unsung heroes of the month: My brother-in-law Tom, who takes an elderly woman to Temple every Sabbath and makes sure she has a place to go for every Jewish holiday. And then there’s my mother-in-law Evelyn and her sister Bernice, who cared for my father-in-law for many months during a long illness and slow decline toward death. They nurtured him patiently and lovingly, going many consecutive nights without sleep, on an endless cycle of feeding, cleaning, medicating, soothing, reading to him, massaging his aches, not to mention all of the energy involved in dealing with the health care and hospice system–all to give him the gift of being where he was happiest and making it possible for him to die at home among those he most loved. On top of this, they welcomed the steady stream of friends who came to support them, to cheer my father-in-law and remind him he was well-loved. These two amazing women got tired, sometimes looked like they would break, but never got bitter or resentful of their commitment and never, never ran out of kind words or supportive embraces for anyone.
We can all create stories that beg to be told. With a healthy sense of personal power and inner strength, our impact on the world around us can be tremendous. To develop this power, we need to bring greater self awareness and self acceptance to our thoughts and actions. We need to consciously give up self criticism and self hatred. It’s pretty tough to follow the ancient wisdom of “loving your neighbor as yourself” when you don’t treat yourself very well. We also need to work continuously toward self mastery and emotional intelligence, and toward developing greater comfort with a complete range of our feelings and modes of expression. As we become more self accepting and authentic, we naturally grow into a power that is loving and balanced, that truly brings our full brilliance into the world. A strong belief in our own mastery and confidence provides the foundation for evolving into a positive relationship with our own power. Each one of us who grows into their own power and learns to trust and follow their wisdom, walks in brilliance and brings healing to the world.
Sheila Adams, M.A. Organization Development, draws on 16 years in
business as entrepreneur, executive, trainer, and coach, to guide
you toward living your vision. For more information about
workshops, teleclasses, and coaching customized for your success,
visit The Learning Edge Coaching web site at
http://www.TheEdgeCoach.com. For a current class schedule, send a
blank email to currentschedule@TheEdgeCoach.com