How to acquire, harness, and wield power
Is this an article justifying your authoritarian leadership style? No, but it is an article that should help boost your power output and help you make decisions to succeed more and fail less. And by power output I don’t mean how much energy and torque you can create around your bike pedals or your hips so that you can pedal faster, lift heavier weights, or run faster. Although, having the right mind set will definitely help you to do all of the above.
Let’s define what kind of power we’re talking about; Merriam-Webster states that power is the ability to act or produce an effect. Let’s think about power, in regards to this article, as a synonym for confidence and ability. The more confidence we have, the better our abilities, whether actual or perceived, and the more likely we are to succeed.
So what does your power output look like today? Are you squandering it away by wading through your social media? Talking about going to the gym, instead of just going? Complaining about a problem instead of meeting it head on?
Here are three things to help you acquire, harness, and wield power for goodness (and productivity) against your great nemesis, mediocrity.
-You have to reward yourself for the little victories. When striving towards our goals, we exhaust this intangible reservoir of confidence and ability; we’ll call it our power tank. When we constantly have to restrain ourselves or deny our self of a stimulus, we deplete this reservoir. However, when we reward our self and allow our minds to refill our power tank, we feel more confident and are able to make better decisions. When we feel more confident, we feel as though we have more power over a situation, giving us the ability to create an outcome that will benefit us (Junha Kim, 2015).
–Practical Tip: Did you make a health goal this year? To workout more or eat better? Set a realistic goal for yourself, i.e. workout twice a week or not eat fast food until the weekend (Saturday and Sunday). Let yourself have days where you indulge in the foods you want, but don’t go overboard. Spend the other five days recovering from your workout or making better food choices.
-Sit up straight! Did you just have a flashback to your childhood? Maintaining good posture before a stressful event has been shown to increase your ability to succeed. A study at Harvard University measured the speech performance of participants who took high power poses (good posture) and low power poses (bad posture) before a mock job interview. The study found that those who took high power poses before the mock interview delivered their speeches better than those who took low power poses (Carney, 2012).
–Practical Tip: Having a stressful day? Going into a tough meeting? About to do a really tough set of squats at the gym? Take a step back, stand up straight (or sit up straight), close your eyes if you need to and picture yourself going through your presentations, going through the conversation, or completing your set. Concentrate on executing your actions and your speech with confidence and clarity. Don’t spend all day there (that’s called sleeping, do that later), but spend enough time so when you open your eyes you have gone through the scenario at least once. Be powerful and do work when you open your eyes!
-You have a mighty weapon; will you use it for good or for ill? Studies have shown that an increased sense of power can lead to enhanced motor performance (Pascal Burgmer, 2012), increased cognitive abilities (Pamela K. Smith, 2008), and even an increase in sexual attraction when in social settings (Junha Kim, 2015). Increasing your confidence by doing something as simple as sitting up straight or practicing positive mental imagery, can have a detrimental effect on whether you will influence others or will be influenced by others.
-Practical Tip: Creating your own power is very much like a muscle; if you do not work it out daily, you will lose effectiveness. How many times throughout the day do you feel discouraged? How many times do you feel uplifted? What are you doing to stay positive? Change up what you do in your free time; if you’re jealous of what your friends are doing on social media, get off! Go be incredible, quit thinking about it. If you’re listening to music that evokes anger or frustration, listen to something that soothes you or boosts your confidence and mood (Johnson, 2009).
Carney, A. J. (2012, September). The Benefit of Power Posing Before a High-Stakes Social Evaluation. Retrieved Feburary 2, 2016, from Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard: https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/9547823/13-027.pdf?sequence=1
Johnson, D. (2009, November 21). Music in the Brain: The Mysterious Power of Music. Retrieved Feburary 2, 2016, from Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science: http://dujs.dartmouth.edu/2009/11/music-in-the-brain-the-mysterious-power-of-music/#.VrEklzYrLL8
Junha Kim, S. L. (2015, Feburary 27). Feeling Depleted and Powerless The Construal-Level Mechanism. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from SagePub: http://psp.sagepub.com/content/41/4/599.abstract
Pamela K. Smith, N. B. (2008, May). Lacking Power Impairs Executive Functions. Retrieved Feburary 2, 2016, from SagePub: http://pss.sagepub.com/content/19/5/441.short
Pascal Burgmer, B. E. (2012, July 16). Bullseye! How Power Improves Motor Performance. Retrieved Feburary 2, 2016, from SagePub: http://spp.sagepub.com/content/4/2/224.abstract