Are you a powerful person?
In a recent promotion for his new audio program “Unleash the Power,” Tony Robbins tells a story that illustrates a secret of personal power.
He was on a flight – or so the promo says – in the first-class cabin when he was identified by a well-dressed, middle-aged man who said, “You’re the power guy, right?”
When Tony acknowledged that he was, the man confronted him. “I’ve watched your infomercial and I think it’s crap. The way I see it, everyone falls into one of two groups: the powerful and the powerless. Ninety-nine percent are powerless – and regardless of what you promise them, they’ll stay powerless.”
“You’re missing the point,” Tony said. “Everyone has an untapped power center, and I show people how to unleash it and use it to fulfill their dreams.”
“Bull!” the man replied. “You want to see real power? Watch this!”
He picked up his drink and, without hesitation, poured it slowly into the lap of his traveling companion, his lawyer.
The embarrassed man jumped up, brushed himself off, and looked at Mr. Big in horror. Then he forced a smile and said, “That’s funny.”
Mr. Big turned to Robbins and said, “That, Mr. Robbins, is power.”
Yes, that’s one kind of power. Abusive power. There is another kind – and in this promotional fable, Tony provides it in the form of one of his books which he gives to the lawyer to read when the old man leaves to go to the bathroom. By the time the old bastard gets back, the lawyer realizes he doesn’t need to take the crap he’s been taking and quits the old monkey on the spot.
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I like the story because it illustrates an important fact about power:
It makes no difference how great it is, it can disappear in an instant.
In this case, it disappeared when the lawyer decided he didn’t need an abusive client. Until then, he was laboring (and suffering humiliation) under the mistaken notion that he needed the work.
In most areas of our lives, we are, thankfully, free to decide what we want to do. In most cases, most of the time, we can decide for ourselves what we want to do, who we want to do it with, and where we want to do it.
That freedom gives us all enormous, almost unlimited, personal power.
What limits that personal power (usually) is not the world around us but our misconceptions. Like the lawyer who believed he couldn’t live a dignified life without being attached to this very wealthy and abusive client, we all make assumptions about what we have to do to achieve our goals. Sometimes, these assumptions are just plain wrong.
Think about how and when you feel powerless. Is it when you get into certain situations? Is it when you are with certain people?
Ask yourself: “What is it about these situations and/or people that I feel I need? Couldn’t I live without them?”
The answer is almost certainly “yes.”
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Keep that in mind the next time you feel powerless. Walk in with the idea that you are fully prepared to quit. You don’t care anymore. When the thing happens that triggers that powerless feeling, say something strong. Not crazy. Not reactionary. Strong and calm. You’ve already quit it/him/her emotionally. You don’t care. In fact, you may feel pity.
Speak with the compassion of someone who’s already free and gone. It will be noticed.
One of two outcomes awaits you: You will get the power and respect you need immediately or you will immediately quit for real. In either case, you’ll be very happy with yourself. And the rest of your life will be better for it.