UpLift [on Merely A Thought Monday]

cohesion copy

And, what is the opposite of cohesion? Incoherence. The lack of clarity or unity. Fracture.

For a period of time my work on this earth was essentially a meditation on power. Power with. Power over. After a while I understood that power-over was not really power at all; it was control. Control and power are two very different things. They are often confused.

Power is something created with others. Control is something done to others. The equation is simple: the more controlling a person is, the less powerful they actually are. A person who understands his/herself as powerful has no need to assert control over others.

A leader invested in control has only one sure route to controlling: to fracture. To divide. It is the way of the truly powerless. Incoherence and chaos are great tools if control is the aim. Destroy the unity. Play to the disgruntled. Feed the fire of those who are feeling powerless. Promise them control. Pushing others down to elevate the self can only end badly. Everyone drowns.

People secure in their power create cohesion. They unite. They uplift. Power is a force that grows between people. It cannot be owned by one. It is always the province of the community. A person secure in her/his power generates unity. What else? The power they feel within is an expression of the power they experience with.

Community is a word that implies cohesion. To commune. Common. And, what could be more common than a central focus, the intention to support and bring out the best in all.

What is the opposite of a powerful person?


read kerri’s blog post about COHESION


alice's restaurant, california websitebox copy




Look The Other Way


I am working on a project that requires me to read through a passel of old emails. I find myself cringing every time I read my former email address. It was the name of my business. It made sense to me at the time I used it. Now it seems like a little chunk of hubris. david@trulypowerful.com. Yikes.

I came to the name honestly enough. One day while facilitating a workshop with a group in Chicago, we bumbled into a conversation about power. I was surprised to learn that I had a lot to say about power, both personal and communal power. My contention was that people most often confuse control with power. They feel powerful when they feel in control and, in fact, true power is the opposite of controlling. The investment of someone who is truly powerful is to empower, not to control. Think about the best teachers, managers, leaders, or friends that you know. Their commitment to you is to help you grow and learn, to become the most powerful person you can be. Unless you are trying to control them, your commitment is the same: to empower them. The same ideal is at the epicenter of any good relationship, work or otherwise.

Discerning between control and power – not always an easy task – was the guide star of my budding business. The study of power over others (controlling) versus true power (power created with others) – that’s how I arrived at the moniker Truly Powerful. I believed that, with awareness, change usually soon followed.

There is a growing list of words that once had potency for me but these words have been so overused, over-applied, or misused that they are now fairly meaningless: paradigm, paradigm shift, story, transformation, purposeful, presence…power, personal power. A few years ago my move from Seattle to Kenosha prompted a life inventory, a deep gander at my motives and motivations. Being a lover of words and believer in the power of words, I paid careful attention to the words I used to define my self and my work. They seemed a façade, a skin that needed shedding. I have called myself life-coach, facilitator, teacher, director-of-plays, performer, artist, and, no matter the word I applied, I felt I had no business assuming I knew or understood any other person’s route to power, personal or otherwise.

In workshops I often used to say, “You are not broken, nothing needs to be fixed,” and I wondered who I would be – and what I would call myself – if I actually believed that about myself and others. Nothing is broken. Nothing needs fixing. A remarkable thing happens when we assume wholeness instead of brokenness. Like a time-lapse camera focused on a busy urban street, the coordination and synchronization of individual movement becomes apparent. We are much more connected than we realize. Look for wholeness and you will see wholeness. Look for connectedness instead of individualization and all the power, fulfillment, purpose and transformation you desire will become available to you.

I also used to say (and still do), “No one creates alone.” No one walks this path alone. No one is powerful by themselves. Power and fulfillment are group sports. Whether we experience it or not, whether we see it or not, truly powerful is a given.

The second in my Held In Grace series: Surrender Now

The second in my Held In Grace series: Surrender Now. The original is available at zatista.com

art prints/bags/cards/notebooks of this image





Stop Your Rant In Its Track


Stop your rant in its track

I come from a long line of ranters and am famous for ranting. Through a life of ranting I’ve learned that rants are mostly a useless exercise. They serve as a pressure release, which is say, energy that is misdirected. Miracles happen when misdirected energy is focused and released toward an intention. Rants are essentially an admission of helplessness, a scream of, “Why is this happening to me?” Redirected, the energy becomes a focused stream of, “I am going to make this happen.”


Use Your Key

Photo by londonstreetart2

Photo by londonstreetart2

The other day I received an email from a long lost cousin. She spent some time on my website watching old interviews and contemplating my assertion that through our inner monologue we story ourselves. The idea was disturbing to her. How could she be the teller of her story and yet feel so powerless? So many things have happened to her! How could she possibly be responsible for the twists and turns of her life? She asked, “How exactly is one to find empowerment when the door is locked and the key wasn’t left under the mat….”

I’ve been slow in responding to her questions because my impulse to respond was so immediate. I wrote and then deleted, “If you do not have the key, who does?”

Her metaphor is perfect. There is door to life and it is locked. Someone else has the key.

And, to make matters more cruel, there is a mat, a tease, a place where the key should be. The mat is a constant reminder of the absence of the key. Her metaphor gives structure to a very specific story, does it not? It defines the actions of her life, the role in which she has cast herself. In such a story frame there is no access to life, there is no possibility of personal power.

I wonder what she might see if she held a different metaphor? I wonder what she might see if she recognized that she is the keeper of the metaphor and in that way the giver of meaning to her life and not the seeker of meaning? I wonder what she might experience if she saw herself as a locksmith or an opener of doors? I wonder what she might experience if she recognized that life is available on both sides of the door? Life knows no doors. Life needs no key.

Her confusion is also perfect. She has mistaken her circumstance for her story. None of us has control over our circumstances. Cancers come. Hurricanes happen. Empowerment comes when we recognize that we have infinite control over who we are within our circumstance. Empowerment is not given, it is chosen.

The Buddhists recommend joyful participation in the sorrows of the world. No one sails through life without difficulty and hardship. The difficulty and hardship are the very things that bring growth and illumination. Participate joyfully. Or, participate painfully. The sorrows of the world will always be there; how we participate is the story we choose to tell. If there is a key to life, if a key is necessary in your story, in her story, it is simply this choice.

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