Power and Powerlessness

We spend so much of our lives seeking solutions to the wrong problems.

Sometimes I speak to leaders with tremendous power who, at their root, feel incredibly powerless. They tell me about how their industry can’t change, that this is just how it is for them, and that they just have to accept the hard truths.

Sometimes I speak to leaders who have access to incredible resources and yet feel incredibly impoverished. They complain that the budgeted purchase they made isn’t as good as they thought, that they are poor in discipline or time.

Sometimes I speak to leaders who are incredibly creative but come to me unable to come up with any good ideas about how to change their careers, deepen their relationships, or overcome challenges.

For the most part leaders seek power, wealth, and better ideas because deep down they think these things will make them better or their lives easier, or resolve some deep fear they have about their abilities, or because they will put the world into an easily solved order.

But the problem is rarely a lack of power, money, or ideas. Those are the wrong problems. Instead the problems leaders need to be solving are a lack of honesty, a lack of courage, and a lack of deep acceptance.

Our world has plenty of rich, powerful leaders. What we need more of are leaders with the willingness to be deeply honest about themselves, with courage enough to demand the best from others, and with a deep acceptance of the shadowy parts they’d prefer everyone would overlook.

That’s why the leaders I work with create something more that the metrics of success. They create the impact and freedom that are the original reasons most of us sought success in the first place.