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Archive for January, 2017

The Power of Powerlessness






I deal with people in positions of power on a weekly basis.

I work with individuals who manage and own businesses that generate revenues in the tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

I am surrounded by power yet have little or no power.

No one has to listen to anything I say.

No one has to follow my recommendations.

No one has to take my advice.

And yet in my “powerlessness,” I have a great deal of power.

Not power in the traditional sense of the word but power nevertheless.

I have the power to influence.

I have the power to persuade.

I have the power of suggestion.

What I don’t have is anything I have to control, maintain, defend or hold on to.

In other words, there is nothing I have to have power over.

And that gives me a great deal of power.

Because I have no “borders to defend,” my expectations are low.

If people listen to me, great; if they don’t, that’s their choice.

I control what I say and how I respond.

They pretty much control the rest.

This gives me a great deal of freedom to be open, candid and honest about what I see and what I think.

How about You?

How powerful are you?

One way to measure your power is to look at the following two lists.

They provide a sample of those aspects of our lives over which we have power and those over which we have little or no power.

What You Have Power Over

What you do.

What you think.

What you say.

What you believe.

What you expect.

What you focus on or give attention to.

What you have.

What you can do.

What’s important to you.

What you value.

How you respond.

How you feel.

What You Have Little or No Power Over

The weather


What other people think.

What other people think of you.

What other people say.

What other people say about you.

What other people believe.

How other people react.

What other people want.

What other people do.

What other people expect.

What other people focus on or give attention to.

What other people have.

What other people can do.

What other people will do.

What’s important to other people.

What other people value.

How other people respond.

How other people feel.

Unsustainable Power

If your goal is to change the second list, it’s going to be “a long afternoon.”

Trying to change what you have little or no control over is a recipe for frustration because you are, in essence, trying to control other people’s thoughts and behavior.

And it simply won’t work.

Not for long anyway.

It’s my experience that we humans can’t seem to control our own behavior half the time.

How we then propose to control other people’s behavior is beyond me.

And that is what trying to keep a vice-like grip on power often becomes–an attempt to impose one’s will on other people’s behaviors and thoughts.

Sustainable Power

If you can focus on the first list and remember what you truly have power over, you can have a life free of much of the angst controlling people live with.

Leading by example is a sign of clarity.

Knowing the limits of your control over others is a sign of wisdom.

Being able to let others have their points of view is a sign of respect.

Leading by example rather than dictating is a sign of confidence.


Leading by example.

Showing respect.

Demonstrating confidence.

Imparting wisdom.


That’s real power.







CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488