In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the power that you have over other people.
First a quick update:
**** Women can’t have it all – The Atlantic features a controversial article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” And now, the NY Times, MSN, CNN.com, Huffington Post and many more media outlets are writing about it. The Atlantic’s article, written by a woman and former exec, argues that feminism set up women to fail by fooling them into thinking they can have a high-powered career and still be an involved mother. But it was also celebrities such as Jada Pinkett Smith who in 2005 openly stated “Women, you can have it all – a loving man, devoted husband, loving children, a fabulous career… They say you gotta choose. Nah, nah, nah.” I first wrote and explained why “Women can’t have it all” in 2005 followed by another two full articles. And read how Kim Cattrall has had a change of heart. Read them here:
* June 2011 – http://patrickwanis.com/blog/you-cant-have-it-all/
* May 2006 – http://patrickwanis.com/blog/women-cant-have-it-all-women-suffer-children-lose-husbands-divorce-pinkett-smith/
* March 2005 – http://patrickwanis.com/blog/women-cannot-have-it-all/
Now, let’s talk about the power you have over other people.
Power is the ability to do, act or accomplish something. It is also the possession of control or command over others; authority.
Often when we think of powerful people, we think of people who are in a position of control or authority over other people and can easily influence others. For example, in 2005, Forbes listed Oprah as one of the top ten most powerful women in the world because she could influence millions of people, transform overnight unknown books into NY Times Bestsellers, and even create social and cultural trends.
Very few people can boast of the ability and power to influence millions of people.
How many people can you influence?
What power do you have over other people?
What can you influence them to do or feel?
Although, we might not be able to influence millions of people, we truly underestimate the power that we have to influence the people around us – our romantic partner, family, children, colleagues, workers, friends and even strangers.
Perhaps you are not consciously aware that you have the ability to crush or build up people.
Every day, the people around you seek your approval, your acceptance, praise and recognition. Even if they do not state it, refuse to admit it or are simply not aware of it, they, and you and I, have spun a web that involves every one of us.
And we are each like the strands, radials and lines in the spider web joining to form the completed web. And like the spider, we too, have prey in mind. Our prey is the reward of recognition, connection, love, praise, acceptance, approval, support, encouragement, validation, hope and belief in us by other people.
I teach ‘Stop seeking other people’s approval and instead be true to yourself – maintain your integrity.’ And one of the tenets of Don Miguel Ruiz’s book “The Four Agreements” is ‘never take anything personally’ i.e. stop seeking or becoming dependent on other people’s opinions and their approval of you. (Read more about all of Ruiz’s Four Agreements in my article “It’s not about you” – http://patrickwanis.com/blog/its-not-about-you/
While both of these are great philosophies and principles, they can easily transform into the extreme approach or philosophy.
The real answer is ‘Balance.’
Psychology traces its origins to philosophy, to the Ancient Greeks and possibly even the Ancient Egyptians.
In 360 B.C., when the Greek philosopher Plato told his story of creation in the Symposium, he was trying to explain the genesis, purpose and nature of love; the drive behind attraction, and even human behavior and qualities such as arrogance, pride, humility, obedience and so forth. And it wasn’t till tens of centuries later that psychology would be able to identify as key human needs things such as love & connection, significance, security, challenge, growth and contribution. Read my article “Getting your six needs” – http://patrickwanis.com/blog/getting-your-six-needs/
The point here is that we have needs, and fortunately or unfortunately, one of those needs is approval & acceptance, which is a form of love & connection.
Thus, the admonition – never take anything personally & never seek other people’s approval or acceptance – is challenging because it is extreme and, it also implies denying our very humanness – the need we have for other people – our dependence on others.
Were we to completely follow Don Miguel Ruiz’s caution and command “never take anything personally” then we could never receive compliments and nor would we give them since nothing should ever be personal. And thus, instead of uniting people, the application of that teaching would result in isolation and separation – ultimately depression and loneliness. We would become disconnected from people, and love & connection would disappear. We would feel weak and insignificant.
Plato says in his Symposium “Human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love.”
Accordingly, we are all seeking love – love and connection. We are spinning our web with other people looking to connect and searching out the prize of love, approval, acceptance, praise and so forth.
And in the same way that you seek it, so too, do all of the people in your life and world. You have the power to influence each and every one of them; to help them feel special, to make each person aware of their uniqueness, contribution and significance. You have the power to give people hope, make them smile, laugh and feel alive; to make them feel loved and worthy.
No, we do not control other people and we are not fully responsible for the way other people respond to us. I teach “I understand that the way others respond to me is about them.” But again, the answer is balance for when you recognize that people are seeking and need recognition, approval, praise, reassurance, warmth, understanding, friendship, empathy, sympathy, compassion (and so forth), then you will fully appreciate and respect the power you have over other people.
When a friend reaches out and tells you of the pain or challenges in their life, you can choose to view it as someone dumping their stuff on you, or, you can choose to view it as an opportunity to listen, be empathetic, be a friend and help them find the good that exists within them. Perhaps you can help them to recognize their achievements and accomplishments, and thus, realize that their life is not in vain.
If today, you feel insignificant, weak or despondent, consider the people in your life to whom you can offer some praise and encouragement. Then when you give it, you, too, will feel powerful and significant knowing that you have the ability to impact and influence other people’s lives – even if it is only one person, today.
And if you find it to be a challenge to give praise, then it is most likely that you were never praised. But when you give it away, the strands in your web become reinforced, you forge greater bonds & connections with other people, and you find more people giving back to you!
You might even transform or save someone’s life! And that’s real power!
- Also read my article “Power & Praise” about Mary Kay Ash’s teaching and founding principle that helped empower millions of women: http://patrickwanis.com/blog/power-praise-mary-kay-ash/
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist