How to Have Power Without Being Forceful

by | Apr 23, 2019 | Power Dynamics


Do you remember Aesop’s fable about the power struggle between the sun and the wind?

In case you don’t, it goes something like this:

One day, as the sun and the wind were arguing about who was stronger, they noticed a man in a coat hurrying down the road.

The sun proposed a test, “See that man down there? Whichever one of us can take that man’s coat off will be declared the strongest.”

The wind agreed and offered to go first.

The sun graciously moved behind some clouds, and the wind began to blow harsh, icy-cold gusts about the man. The harder the wind blew, the more tightly the man clutched his coat around himself, until at last the wind gave up in despair.

The sun began radiating light and warmth. The man soon got so warm, that he readily took off his own coat and basked in the sunshine.

My favorite part of this story is when the man took off his own coat in response to meeting his own needs in the moment.

Radiating warmth and light in order to inspire change is so much more powerful than trying to force people to do things they don’t intrinsically want to do.

There is a big difference between using force to get your way, and living relationally from a deeper sense of authentic power.

Power is life-serving; force constricts and consumes.

Power uplifts, dignifies and ennobles; force fragments, divides and separates.

Self-Sabotaging Cycles of Force … go something like this:

  • When you try to force something, you kick up more resistance and defense.

  • When you encounter resistance and defense, you think that you need to use even more force to “break through” to someone else.

  • When you use more force, you are met with even more resistance.

  • Result: Exhaustion.

When we live out a sense of authentic power, however, we live from the part of ourselves that is inspired, courageous and resourced. We increase our capacity to handle the demands that are put upon us by the world.

Want to Increase Your Power?

Here are a few steps:

1. Raise your level of awareness. You cannot choose something different until you become aware of your conditioning and your unconscious. Get conscious in order to get choiceful.

2. Live your life in service to something greater than yourself: It could be kindness, forgiveness, compassion, divinity, truth, beauty: anything that you are willing to hold as a north star and train your ego to surrender to. You need something larger than yourself to serve if you want to harness true power.

3. Greet yourself and others with deep compassion. All-inclusive, unconditional compassion will heal humanity. Force will simply continue to wound you and others.

4. Find a burning desire that you’d like to serve, and then stay unattached to the outcome.

5. Support solutions instead of attacking causes.

6. Allow, Accept and Embrace all Feelings. Practice tolerating how life feels, and allow feelings to arise, move through you and release out again. Watch your feelings like waves crashing against a shore. Don’t repress them. Don’t act them out.

As you go into this week, you may want to reflect:

  1. How do you radiate warmth with others, instead of getting controlling and forceful?

  2. What sunshine are you spreading in your relationships?

  3. What helps you make the shift from showing up like the wind, to radiating warmth, powerfully, like the sun?

I’d love to know what has supported your own journey in shifting from fear and force to compassion and power – leave a comment below!

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Victor Frankl

1 Comment

  1. Dave Sheild

    Wonderful realization Yvette. In leadership its the difference between intimidation and inspiration. Great leaders don’t step in and declare themselves The Leader. They inspire empowerment in others.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *