Power Matters

Consider this the next time you think you're being objective

I have a dog and I control his food.

I control when he eats, how much he eats, and if he eats at all.

The dog has little power in my house. If he doesn’t agree with any of my decisions, he has three choices:

  1. Go on a hunger strike (and hope I comprehend his silent protest)

  2. Express his displeasure: bark/growl/bite

  3. Run away

I hold the vast majority of the power in this situation. The dog’s power is so little that anyone looking at this relationship in an objective manner would be absolutely foolish to regard this power dynamic as equal.

I own the food. If the dog wants to eat, his best bet is to be nice to me and hope that I continue to feed him.

And if he chooses Option 2 and barks or growls or bites? He risks my displeasure. I can turn him out into the street as retribution and now he’s hungry and he has to find a new way to get food.

I think of this power dynamic every time I hear some powerful person (and it’s usually a man) accused of sexual harassment at work say, “It was totally consensual.”

My dog would beg to differ.

What Does This Have to Do With Mindset?

Power affects relationships. That’s a simple truth so you must remember not to believe your own hype, especially if you’re the person with more power in any kind of relationship: work, love, friendship. Your mindset needs to grow if you want to grow as a person, as a partner, as a worker, or as a friend.

Take a hard look. Then, when you think you see all aspects of a situation, take another step back. And another. Reassess and think:

  • What viewpoint am I missing?

  • Is the playing surface really even?

  • Or is it even only on my side of the field?

Still in doubt? (You might be … and that’s good because only fools are 100% certain.) Ask someone to read the situation and give you honest feedback. And remember, be strong enough to ask for feedback from outside your inner circle because anybody who relies on your largesse for their next meal is probably not going to be a totally unbiased viewpoint. They probably like to eat.

Just ask my dog.