The pursuit of power is a strong motivator for many people. Not so much because they want to be autocratic, power-crazed demons but because something about being able to wield significant influence and/or control seems to provide them with a greater sense of self-esteem or self-confidence. This is, of course, largely accessed through positional power.
But if you ever have the privilege of seeing truly powerful people wield their power it seems to be done with a deep sense of humility and grace even in the face of their positional power. However, finding these role models in the public eye is increasingly hard to do. We have the handful that often come to mind – Mandela, Luther-King, Queen Elizabeth, King Arthur and perhaps more recent examples such as Jacinda Ardern and Greta Thunberg.
The very word ‘power’ often seems to take us off down the wrong path.
Immediately we tend to associate it with macho, muscle laden heroes able to use their power to defend or control depending on which side of ‘good or evil’ they are on. Or perhaps we think of the wily fox, manipulating others through their use of power. Secondly, it typically brings a basketful of negative, judgemental connotations. No-one wants to admit to having power or being powerful in case we are seen as lacking in humility or attempting to take over the world. We often think of the worst kind of politician in this context.
So the word power doesn’t get a great rap and the models we do see often support these stereotypes…at least in our mind. And yet in our world, there is a yawning gap where people with graceful power need to be. So what is this graceful power?
Essentially it is inner power, the kind that immediately connects us with the humility and grace of those who have accessed and express it. The kind of humility that is not falsely self-effacing, but which is honest, benign and generous and a grace that is inclusive, reassuring and warming.
In fact, the more we explore the truth of power it is the antithesis of the often depicted models of it, relying as it does on an inner quality that gets things done not through threat, fear or force but by quietly inviting others into the search for a better world – by being stronger together.