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  • Kim Trajano

Power ✊

When we listen, we offer with our attention an opportunity for wholeness. Our listening creates a sanctuary for the

homeless parts within the other person.

That which as been denied, unloved, devalued by themselves and others. That which is hidden. In this culture, the soul and the heart too often go homeless. Listening creates a holy silence. When you listen generously to people they can hear the truth in themselves, ofter for the first time. And in the silence of listening, you can know yourself in everyone. Eventually, you may be able to hear, in everyone and beyond everyone, the unseen signing softly to itself and to you. -Rachel Naomi Remen*

Dora and I took a break from the road over the last couple of weeks to take care of a few things. My co-pilot needed to be back to take off on his next adventure. I wanted to be back home in California to vote, and to be around my family during the anxiety filled election week(s). And Dora unfortunately needed to spend some time at my family's mechanic getting some leaky rear differential blah blah blah fixed.

We're glad to be back on the road now enjoying the wide open spaces and the dark starry skies of the Joshua Tree desert. It feels as though we are starting a new chapter – one that is less a travel partner, less any destination or plan, and less any real vision of how the rest of the journey will unfold. It's a new chapter that fills me with a renewed sense of unknown adventures, a hopeful smile at our collective resilience, and cautious optimism about a new era of leadership.

Over the last couple of weeks I've been excavating my relationship to power. Personal power, elected power, power for good, power for evil, empowered vs disempowered. I’ve been sitting in inquiry around this word and what it really means. How do you define power? What is it? What does it mean to have power? Are those that actively seek to attain power over others inherently *bad*? I’ve developed a practice of coming to the origins of a word to better understand it's original intent. To uncover the true meaning of the word and resolve how it has evolved and taken on new meanings over the course of time.

power (n.)

c. 1300, pouer, "ability; ability to act or do; strength, vigor, might," especially in battle; "efficacy; control, mastery, lordship, dominion, ability or right to command or control; legal power or authority; authorization; military force, an army," from Anglo-French pouair, Old French povoir, noun use of the infinitive, "to be able," earlier podir (9c.), from Vulgar Latin *potere (source also of Spanish poder, Italian potere), from Latin potis "powerful" (from PIE root *poti- "powerful; lord"). [1]

At its essence, power = ability. How you use your energy to effect the world around you. That feels innocuous, right? So if power is neither good nor bad, why is it that for so many of us, myself very much included, we have a negative connotation with the word and what it represents in our world? Here’s what I’ve discovered this week…

Weekly Wisdom

Power is...

Shaped by others.

Contrary to popular opinion and my own belief system, power is not “grabbed” or “taken from” but rather given to an individual from the community. Meaning how much influence you have is based on how much trust others have in you doing what you say you are going to do - in being the person they believe you to be. But this “vital life force of power” can be easily abused - as we've all experienced personally and collectively. Dacher Keltner writes about how power turns abusive, and how to maintain power and ensure you use it for good. Here's the values cheat sheet: Awareness, Humility, Generosity, Respect & Empower, but I highly recommend you dig in deeper and read the piece. Take a poll this week, how would others describe your power? What would they trust you to do?



Power is… The ability to achieve purpose and effect change (-MLK)

This definition of power is clean and clear of any positive or negative charge. In a recent Dare to Lead episode where Brené Brown interviews Joe Biden, she prefaces the interview with her research on power and offers an important distinction. “Power over” versus “Power with/to/within” - TIP: check out the pdf included in the show notes. She describes leaders who take the dangerous position of “power over” use fear to hoard power and are more concerned with being right. Leaders who practice “power with/to/within” believe power is infinite and expanded when shared with others and are more concerned with getting it right (than being right). Explore this distinction as you move through the week. Are you more concerned with getting it right than being right?

*Power is generosity of listening. Let's all practice a little more of that and envision and sweeter existence together


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