There is a famous quote that goes like this: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” The quote is often attributed to former President Abraham Lincoln, sometimes Robert Ingersoll. What is important about this wonderful quote is that it is true.
Power can be defined as: “ability to do or act…capability to do or accomplish something…political or national strength…to supply with electricity or other means of power…” — (From www.dictionary.com , ellipses mine re: punctuation). And, of course, there are additional definitions, both in other dictionaries and in the wide common usage of the word.
The word power often evokes an image or mindset of strength, of might. Have you ever thought about how you use power? Have you ever struggled to determine whether or not to utilize the personal power you possess? I have and such can be a most difficult decision, especially when running a vital organization like SKIL.
A friend of mine once wrote: “The greatest strength of the truly powerful is in the judicious, restrained use of that power.”
How true! For to use power wisely, one must have discernment. It can be very easy to speak, or to act, when you are angry or upset. It can be much harder to restrain yourself in the heat of the moment and realize that you should keep your mouth shut. Sometimes, choosing NOT to exert our power is the wisest choice, though such can also be the hardest choice.
A core management philosophy we seek to live by here at SKIL is that the effectiveness of a good leader is to not react. Sometimes, it is OK to sit back and let circumstances or problems play out instead of intervening and trying to fix them. And sometimes, it is necessary to act. Learning about this is good education regarding how to use power.
How do you use the life power that you have? Do you consider whether your words or actions will uplift or hurt those to whom you offer them? Are you able to decide when, or if, to act? Can you stop yourself from reacting when it would be better NOT to use your power?
I hope that, generally speaking, I use my power effectively, judiciously and fairly, erring on the side of mercy. It’s a continuous learning/growing effort, not a life accomplishment I have arrived at or perfected. I challenge each of you to learn and grow, too, about how to best use your life power as you forge ahead in 2021.