“It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” -Aung San Suu Kyi.
We imagine that having power will protect us, and so we seek to build and project it. Like most things in life that we seek to accumulate in an effort to find peace, happiness, and protection, this one rarely accomplishes its intended goal. Like money or possessions, power creates the illusion that we are finally safe and secure from the possible events that frighten us. Aung San Suu Kyi got it right: it’s fear that drives our corruption, a fear both of losing the power we have and of being subject to the power of others.
At Built to Lead we see a fear-driven response to adversity–a response out of alignment with what one believes and who one is–as an example of a weak core. I see weak-cored leaders being corrupted by their fear, thinking they have “no choice” and making the decision to “kiss the ring” of the power they imagine is being wielded over them.
The truth is that for most of us, the days of the monarchs are over. We do have a choice. We have the choice to look down, bow down, and kiss the ring we imagine will protect us from our fear. Or we have the choice to look up, stand up, and speak up about what we believe, who we are, and which direction we should go. We all have the choice to speak our truth to power.
Margaret Chase Smith was the first woman to serve in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. She understood she had a choice. On June 1, 1950, as a freshman Republican Senator, she stood on the floor of the Upper Chamber and delivered her “Declaration of Conscious,” decrying what she saw as McCarthy’s dangerous accusations and the partisan divide it was fomenting. She was the first Senator to speak against the injustice she saw regarding the “McCarthy hearings.” She didn’t let her gender, lack of experience, or party politics dissuaded her from expressing what she believed. She spoke her truth to power.
Cultivate the ability to speak your truth in the moments that matter. Build a strong core. Grow from a self-centered, others-controlling individual toward a core-centered, self-controlling one. It doesn’t matter how much positional power you have; a strong core gets noticed… and it just might make the difference your system needs.
Slow down and reflect… slow down and write.