“If the only thing I have to do to get you to back down is not like you, that’s easy.” –Annonymous
Hello SOTGC community,
Power is a topic that makes many people, especially women, at least somewhat uncomfortable. But it’s a reality in much of organizational and social life. The philanthropic world is no exception. Creating social change requires power as much as any other industry. And it’s needed.
I’m game for tackling the subject – and who better to hold up as an example than Martha Stewart? As much as I love to hate her, I was taken by surprise after reading an article in the New York Magazine, Martha Stewart’s best lesson: Don’t give a damn. * Ann Friedman writes eloquently about Martha Stewart – the impressive and the frightening.
One sentence from the article made it’s way into my working memory. Now that’s impact.
“Her faith in herself and her methods are unrelenting: work hard, know your value, and have enough confidence in your work and value to keep pressing forward whether or not people seem to like you.”
I reframed Ann Friedman’s words into a few simple power questions to ponder. For me they led to new insights. I’d love to hear yours insights in the comments below.
Power insight # 1: Do I have unrelenting confidence in my work, and do I know my value?
I am fortunate to have work that I believe in fully, but I don’t always act that way. Why not? If I am not willing to boldly move forward and make an impact with a career that I believe in and love, then I need to come to terms with the fact that it will never happen.
This was a powerful insight for me. I have not always had a career that I love. I feel proud that I managed to create one, which took years of plodding, if that’s a word. Martha Stewart has effectively moved me off the dime, and I have new energy to make things happen. How about you?
Power Insight # 2: Do I keep pressing forward whether or not people seem to like me?
When I’m standing up for something I believe in, I can get my back up like the best of them, and my need for likability quickly flies out the window. But that’s not my norm. Making others angry or upset is something I avoid. Now I’m wondering, at what cost?
For me, this is disturbing. As a woman who has spent a great deal of time working on and studying interpersonal dynamics, emotional intelligence practices in the workplace, and other right-brain oriented advancements, I know I’m capable of “getting my back up” respectfully while holding my ground. However, deep down, I know that my need to be liked is ingrained. It’s different than being kind, empathetic or compassionate. It’s more about fear.
The answer? I believe its about awareness and connection. Peer coaching is one of the secrets of those with power. I love surrounding myself with people that are smarter than me and able to say what’s true. Homework: Get three people to tell you the truth about you.
A few final thoughts from those who know more than I do about the subject:
- Do favors and ask for favors
- Don’t be judgmental
- Leave opponents a graceful out
- Be nice to those you don’t like
A final look at Martha
Friedman writes, “The trick, it seems, is to embrace Martha’s commitment to her personal vision, her work ethic, and her zero-fucks-given attitude without veering into the realm of unnecessary meanness or, God forbid, lawbreaking.”
Thanks Ann Friedman. It’s a strategy that would benefit many women.
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