The word “power” is used a lot, but what does power really look like in action? And what can happen when you utilize true power in your life?
I was reminded last week of both the misconception of power and the transformative ability it has to change lives.
A conference I was speaking at was themed The Power to Lead Change. Each presenter was given 20 minutes to share with the business owners in the audience examples of how the power of leadership changes lives. The first presenter spoke on the vital importance of senior leaders in corporations to drive change organizationally. Another shared how history reveals that military might is the most definitive power that leads to change. Other speakers shared examples of athletic achievement, political influence and individual success.
All of these were accurate, but after hearing them I decided to speak about power from a very different perspective. I ignored the slide deck I had prepared and instead shared about the incredible power extolled over me by my third grade teacher Sr. Mary Therese.
Sr. Mary Therese was a sweet, soft-spoken woman. She walked with a limp, smiled through her eyes and, somehow, made each of her 27, eight-year-old students feel like she was instructing them individually, with personal attention and care. She had an uncanny intuition to detect when we weren’t being completely truthful; but during the course of an entire year, she never lost her temper, cool or passion for her kids.
For almost a century, Sr. Mary Therese was a woman who dedicated her life to a mission bigger than herself. Her very vow of chastity, poverty and obedience challenges the concept of power that so many have today. Power, some suggest, comes with fame, wealth and the ability to fulfill personal desires.
But great leaders all understand that real power is submitting to a meaningful purpose for life and then using personal influence to challenge others to do more through their lives. [Tweet that.]
St. Mary Therese saw something in a little boy named John O’Leary that he had never seen in himself. She leveraged her power – her life – to change my life. I’ll never forget and I’ll always be grateful.
So why does this matter to us today?
My friends, like it or not, we have power over others. We extol our power at restaurants over waiters, at airports over fellow passengers, at stores over total strangers. We reveal our power as we interact at the nursing station, carpool line, water cooler at work, classroom and boardroom. Our example may serve to remind others how smart we are, how hard we work and much we know. But, if we borrow a page from Sr. Mary Therese: we can use our lives as a living example of how smart others are, how much potential they have and how their best days and greatest impact are yet to come.
Today, choose to be a living example of what happens when the power of love overrules the love of power. [Tweet that.]
When this happens the world (starting with your own) will know peace. And that, my friend, is the true measure of power.
Please share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to learn who impacted you through their leadership.