Power is certainly in the news these days. From the abuse of it in the Petraeus scandal, to the absence of it after hurricane Sandy, you can’t escape a conversation about power.
You can’t get away from thinking about power in today’s workplace, either. In my executive coaching work, I’m constantly watching people struggle with this seemingly mystical force. But it’s not really a mystery when you look closely.
Need proof? Here are the three power tools you’ve had all along.
Power Tool #1: Everything You Do
Remember when grandma said “actions speak louder”? She wasn’t kidding. You are not someone’s puppet–you have the gift of choosing the actions you take.
(Now get out the cheese, ’cause here comes the whine–)
“I can choose? Not me–I don’t have a choice. I have to do the [bleeping] quarterly report. It’s a bunch of [malarkey] but they make me do it so our execs look good for the board, the [bleeping] idiots.”
If you had a similar reaction, you’re not alone. There’s a false assumption out there that most of our live today are not in our control, that there’s a list of things we each HAVE to do.
And that’s a lie.
Whether you know it or not, you’re CHOOSING to do those things because you don’t CHOOSE to experience the consequences (bedsores, unemployment, gingivitis, etc.)
I often find that there are things my clients think they HAVE to do, but after they look hard at the consequences, they realize they didn’t have to do that at all. They choose another path instead.
Stop undermining your own career power by thinking you can’t take control over what you do. And start doing more of what you want at work.
Power Tool #2: Everything You Say
Your words matter. And even the most verbose among us (present!) can learn to be responsible for what comes out of our mouths.
If you find yourself saying things at work that you don’t believe (“sure, we have the right resources to do this work”), consider the power you’re giving away by not being truthful.
There are many ways to speak our powerful truth and still respect others points of view at work. (Here’s one idea from our archives: “No” Is An Acceptable Answer.)
Of course, everything you “say” also includes what you say through your fingers–what you post on Facebook, what you tweet, what you text. More than ever, these things you say can stick around a lot longer than your average thought bubble, and so are opportunities to gain–and lose–more power than ever.
If you want more power through the things you say, here’s a simple trick. Speak what’s true, and what’s positive. There’s more power there than you’ll ever know.
Power Tool #3: Everything You Think
Here’s the most powerful and yet least obvious way to gain more power at work. Change the way you think.
Sure, sounds easy. But among the three, this is probably the hardest–so start working on this one right now. Start talking back to the bully in your head who says you can’t get that promotion, ask for a flexible schedule, or look for a job right now. It may be cliche, but when you change your mind, you change your life.
Don’t fool yourself in thinking you’re power-less. You have power over everything you do, everything you say, and everything you think. And that’s enough to be power-full–so get started now.