<![CDATA[Right Use of Power Institute - Blog]]>Tue, 09 Feb 2016 21:58:51 -0800EditMySite<![CDATA[Alchemy of Yes]]>Fri, 18 Dec 2015 19:48:35 GMThttp://www.rightuseofpower.org/blog/alchemy-of-yesBy Cedar Barstow

When there is a role power difference, one person is in an up-power role and the other person is in a down-power role.  Up and down is simply directional.  It does not indicate better or worse.  But up and down does indicate different roles, responsibilities and vulnerabilities.
 
Both partners in the power differential relationship need to understand and own their roles.  The quality of relationship, creativity, collaboration and effectiveness that results when both up- and down-power parties say "yes" to these roles is what I call the alchemy of yes.  Imagine a group of people standing in two circles with the members of the inner circle facing the members of the outer circle.  Those in the inner circle are in an up-power role while those in the outer circle are in a down-power role.  In my training, I invite those in the inner circle to think about the ways they say a "half-yes" to their role power.  There are many reasons, for example, "I'm exhausted."  "I don't have enough confidence."  "I don't like this role."  "I didn't choose it."  "I'm afraid of causing harm."  "I want everyone to like me."  Then they show their "half-yes" in their body and posture.  The outer circle in down-power roles experience their responses to their up-power partners.  Responses are remarkably dramatic:  "I want to protect myself."  "I don't want to engage."  "I want to walk away." "My space feels so small." "I don't have confidence that I will get what I need." "I want to take care of her."  Next the up-power people find their "yes" to their role power and embody this "yes."  There are striking responses of interest, safety, confidence, spaciousness, willingness and good feeling about the relationship.   
 
We then shift to the outer circle and the down-power people name and embody their "half-yes" to their role.  "I don't trust anyone in authority."  "I don't want to give up control."  "I'm tired."  "I don't want to have to do anything.  I just want to be taken care of." "I'm afraid." "Just like always before, this just isn't going to work." "I could be hurt here.  Better be very cautious." "I want and deserve to be the leader here."  Up-power participants noticed their responses to their half-yes clients or employees.  "Looks like really hard work to me."  "They look so scared underneath the outer shell."  "I'm going to have to earn their trust by demonstrating using my power well."  One participant noticed that in her actual job, this is the way most of her clients begin in therapy.  In fact, there is wisdom in down-power caution.  The down-power role is a high-risk role that requires trust in the good ethics of the up-power person.  This trust needs to be earned by demonstrations of personal integrity, and role sensitivity and skill.  A down-power participant noted that the more her up-power partner stayed in her "yes," the more he felt better about being in down-power. When the down-power folks found their "yes" to their role, they felt positive, engaged, hopeful, safe and trusting.  And when both circles were owning and saying yes to their roles, the relationships felt collaborative and healthy.  
 
Two-sided "yes" relationships are what we strive for and are the most productive ones.  Collaborative and healthy relationships are possible and productive within structures that embody a role power difference.  Collaboration doesn't require banishing the power differential or making hierarchy the enemy.  Hakomi Trainer, Morgan Holford, describes the power differential as "linear and round at the same time: right use of hierarchy as a vertical linear line and right use of relationship as a circular surround."
 
The Alchemy of Yes also reflects the 150% principle: the person in the up-power role still has much greater responsibility for the health of the relationship.  In fact, a large part of the up-power role involves earning the trust of the person in the down-power role and helping him or her learn how to make best use of their role.    
 
Here’s a checklist of a few dynamics to be conscious of when using your power.
 
Leader/Helping Professional Power Considerations
_____1. Sometimes I don’t take ownership of my power role.

_____2. Sometimes I have blurred or poor role boundaries and limits.

_____3. Sometimes I am arrogant or over-use my role power.

_____4. Sometimes I have great content, but poor timing.

_____5. Sometimes I have great timing, but poor content.

_____6. Sometimes I’m unwilling to be direct or take a stand.

_____7. Sometimes I’m not in good contact with my client or group.

_____8. Sometimes I try to use or change rules to avoid working with a relationship.

_____9. Sometimes I am too nice or too empathic.

_____10. Sometimes I don’t honor or work with differences well.

 

Follower/Client Considerations:
_____1. Sometimes I hide under the leader.

_____2. Sometimes I engage in too much questioning and doubting.

_____3. Sometimes I undermine the leader.

_____4. Sometimes I compete with the leader.

_____5. Sometimes I pretend to go along.

_____6. Sometimes I complain without suggesting a change.

_____7. Sometimes I am half-present and half-hearted.

_____8. Sometimes I don’t follow through with my agreements.

_____9. Sometimes I’m not emotionally available.

_____10. Sometimes I am not direct with my responses.

 
To increase your skillfulness, pick one or several of these considerations to shift. Consciousness, empathy, and skillfulness are needed in both power differential roles.
 

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<![CDATA[150% Principle]]>Sat, 31 Oct 2015 18:45:07 GMThttp://www.rightuseofpower.org/blog/150-principleBy Cedar Barstow

“I’m trying to imagine ethics without an awareness of power. That would be like trying not to step on anyone’s toes, without an awareness of one’s feet.” —Susan Mikesic

The power differential is the inherently greater power and influence that helping professionals have as compared to the people they help. Understanding both the value and the many impacts of the power differential is the core of ethical awareness. Written codes for ethical behavior are based on the strong positive and negative impacts of this power differential.

People seeking help are in a position in which they must trust in the knowledge and guidance of their caregiver. This results in a greater-than-ordinary vulnerability. Consequently, people are unusually susceptible to harm and confusion through misuses (either under- or overuse) of power and influence.
Examples of Power Inequality“The impact of the role, control, and power difference between client and therapist is very strong and also very subtle, and thus demands a strong ethical stance. In brief, your role as the therapist [or any helping professional] is to create a safe space, empower your client, protect your client’s spirit, and to see a wider perspective.” —Hakomi Institute Code of Ethics preface

Stated another way, there is a power inequality whenever you take on a role that gives you authority over another or creates the perception that you have authority. Power differential roles include: supervisor, clergy, body worker, healer, lawyer, coach, group leader, therapist, counselor, doctor/nurse, mediator, teacher, social worker, massage therapist, guide, and social worker.

Read the rest of the article here
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<![CDATA[Power with Strength and Compassion, Wisdom and Skill]]>Fri, 02 Oct 2015 18:41:18 GMThttp://www.rightuseofpower.org/blog/power-with-strength-and-compassion-wisdom-and-skillBy Cedar Barstow

Pope Francis is offering us a remarkable example of right use of power.  He understands and owns the extraordinary role power given to him as Pope.  He could get caught, as many leaders do, in the shadow side of power.  Instead, he demonstrates that a powerful person can take tough and decisive action and at the same time act with compassion and tenderness.  His spiritual and moral guidance is toward the greatest common good as is felt in his words to the US Congress.

"If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort." 

I want to note a few examples of his power infused with compassion.  While the Pope is not free to change the church's teachings, he does feel free to encourage change from focusing on dogma to focusing on compassion for all. He urges Christians not to "obsess" over issues of abortion, contraception, and gay marriage, but to be in service to all people. He demoted a high-ranking Vatican Cardinal who had been harsh and dogmatic about homosexuality and yet he softens the criticism of nuns and praises their exemplary leadership.  He takes a strong stand on global warming and on corruption and abuses of power in politics.  He took extra-ordinarily strong action in firing all but one of the priests who run the Vatican Bank.  He calls "unfettered capitalism tyranny and says that economic inequity kills."  Demonstrating his desire to stay in touch with all the people he serves, he reportedly leaves the Vatican at night to minister to the homeless anonymously.  This desire to stay connected is wise because it is one of the antidotes to being overtaken by the shadow of power.  It is refreshing and good for the soul for right uses of power to be in the news. 

Here's a link to Francis' speech to congress.
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<![CDATA[Right Use of Power as Soul Work]]>Thu, 20 Aug 2015 18:39:33 GMThttp://www.rightuseofpower.org/blog/right-use-of-power-as-soul-workBy Cedar Barstow

Here are some remarkable words by Richard Hofstadter about Abraham Lincoln and his commitment to using his power while staying connected to his heart.  Power with heart.

 
To be confronted [when he entered the White House] with the fruits of his victory only to find that it meant choosing between life and death for others was immensely sobering. . . . In one of his rare moments of self-revelation he is reported to have said:  "No I don't know what the soul is, but whatever it is, I know that it can humble itself.". . . .Lincoln was moved by the wounded and dying men, moved as no one in a place of power [thinks they (cb)] can afford to be . . . .For him it was impossible to drift into the habitual callousness of the sort of officialdom that sees men only as pawns to be shifted here and there and 'expended' at the will of others.  It was a symbolic thing that his office was so constantly open, that he made himself more accessible than any other chief executive in our history. . . .  Here, perhaps, is the best measure of Lincoln's personal eminence in the human calendar--that he was chastened and not intoxicated by power."  Jacob Needleman, The American Soul, pages 187-188.
 
Being chastened and not intoxicated by elevated positional power is challenging soul work and yet it is possible.  Actions born of integrating strength and compassion raise consciousness and make the world a better place.
 
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<![CDATA[A Tale of Two Cultures]]>Thu, 25 Jun 2015 18:42:02 GMThttp://www.rightuseofpower.org/blog/a-tale-of-two-culturesBy Cedar Barstow

This personal experience of mine in an outback station in Aboriginal land in Australia from about 15 years ago speaks to power misuse and healing between two very diverse races and cultures: white and aboriginal. We dozen “white fellas” had received the personal invitation needed to enter Aboriginal land to visit for ten days. We had driven several thousand miles inland to the river border. On one side of the river, motor boats with ice chests of food and technical fishing equipment, on the other side barefoot aboriginal children fishing with hand held fishing lines wading at the river bank. From the river, we had driven for several days on a rutted, powder dusted, single land road to get to our camp. We had been fishing, we had learned about Tea Tree medicine, we had hunted for bush food, and we had made click sticks. We knew it was a privilege to be there.

For some of us, it had been our third visit. We had been invited to witness ceremonial dances on the first two visits. This time we were invited to join the dance. We ochered our skin with lines of white outlining our bones. We did our best to learn the dance steps. We discovered that dancing involved not just learning the steps, but expanding our field of perception so that we were literally “danced” by our entrainment with the other dancers. We had felt the excitement and energy build as the lights and sounds of the truck entered the ceremonial ground. The truck bringing the boys seemed like a real living being. The boys’ bodies had been elaborately painted with ancestral stories over several days of teachings by their uncles in a sacred and secret enclave. These boys stood tall and proud, receiving the admiration of the entire community as they stepped into this ceremony of boys-becoming-men. We had watched the men accept these boys and the women wail over the loss of their boy children who would no longer be allowed to speak directly to their mothers.

The three day dance had ended in the wee hours of the morning and we had all returned to our sleeping bag “swags” for much needed sleep. The energy was high and sleep had been difficult for most of us.  My experience of the night had been quite strange, especially for one who has little access to liminal information.  I awoke in darkness to a feeling of being watched. I turned my head and saw what seemed like an aboriginal boy on his knees looking at me. Knowing this wasn’t a real person, but truly seeing something, I made up that there was a little bush next to my swag. Others came in for breakfast with their own similar stories. Our guide, James, had been up all night feeling as if a circus had been let out.

As we packed up that day, we got word that Rex, the Head Man, and Cookie, another elder, wanted to come talk with us. This was highly unusual behavior. No one from the community except our guide Audrey had come to our camp during our visit. We had gone to their camp instead.  We told them we would be honored.  They arrived with a painting of a sugar bag ant colony painted by another elder, Charlie. What ensued was a most remarkable conversation that gathered its meaning as it unfolded through our interactions energetically, through gestures and expressions, and through words these elders knew in English and the words our guide knew in their language. This is the best sense we could make of it. These elders had also felt some unusual unleashed energy during the night and were trying to understand it. They seemed to feel that there was some connection between their inviting us to dance with them and this strange energy. They were concerned. They brought out the painting to show us. They told us about someone had tried to copy this painting and done it imperfectly. Soon after he had died. They spoke of stories and pointed to our notebooks and journals. They repeated over and over, “You lawmen now. You lawmen now.” We began to understand that they had let us in on a level of experience and understanding that is beyond what they were used to sharing in their rare contacts with white people. They were now worried about how we would use what we had experienced. They wanted us to know that it was of enormous importance to them that we tell the truth about our experience and not make things up or be inaccurate. If we did, like the man who miscopied the painting, our lives would be in danger.

They began to talk about the “spirits” that were “loose” the night before. They didn’t seem to understand what this meant and wanted to know if we had experienced this energy as well. Assured that we did, they began pointing to each of us, saying, “You good dancer! You good dancer.” They then began to enact, as if on a stage, a horrific memory of an event that had happened at this station some 60 years ago. These two old men, as young boys, had hidden behind some trees in the bush and watched as bounty hunters had come and massacred their relatives. Pointing on his body to various places as if bullet holes, Rex cried, “Shoot ‘em here and shoot ‘em here, and here and here. Why you kill us? Why you kill us? Why you kill us?” We sat, listening, weeping. The Christian missionaries had saved the lives of many of the children by taking them away to mission schools where they were given new names and robbed of their aboriginal heritage by being taught English and Christian ways. A number of the women in this outpost had spent years in mission schools. Rex and Cookie and a handful of others had not been found by the bounty hunters and had stayed on the land.

“You good dancers. You dance with us. You good dancers.” We then began to understand that Rex and Cookie were thinking that the spirits of those who had been shot long ago had been “freed” by our willingness and interest in learning their dance and their culture. Perhaps what I had “seen” next to me in the night was a spirit now freed to be curious. It seemed that we had begun to redeem the past by embracing their culture rather than taking it away. We were different. We had used our power to understand and honor their culture.

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<![CDATA[Prison]]>Thu, 30 Apr 2015 22:39:55 GMThttp://www.rightuseofpower.org/blog/prisonHonoring Anna Cox and her work with Compassion Works for All

When I was seven years old, Anna Cox became my best friend. We looked alike, our families were alike, our natures were similar.  Our teacher sometimes couldn't tell us apart.  Now, at 70 we are still dear friends.  About 25 years ago, each of us found our life purpose, I with developing right use of power as the heart of ethics, Anna in working with offering Buddhist meditation and teachings to prisoners, through her organization:  Compassion Works for All.  (www.compassionworksforall.org).

Recently, Compassion Works for All was the recipient of much-needed funds of ____ through a fundraising drive called Arkansas Gives.  As significant prison reform issues rise to national attention these days, I want to use this RUPI issue to give special honor to Anna for her years and years of compassionate, skillful, and effective service to prisoners through her newsletters and teachings.  Her website is a rich source of stories and video teachings for both children and adults.  Here's a very touching story about a gratefulness meditation that Anna did with some prisoners in Little Rock.   


Welcome to another meditation session down at the prison this month.  Many of us, the other 'free world' folks and I, and our Compassion Works for All members, had been all caught up in politics this month. Our state legislature is in session. We have all been advocating for numerous bills but most specifically those for prison reform. As we talk to those in decision-making positions, our efforts have been to 'humanize' the people in prison. We want to impress on those with power that those we advocate for are people. I tell them that you are people trying to grow and heal. I stress that you are quite remarkable.  You have become the change agents from within the prisons, helping each other, and especially helping the young gang members who need to grow up and who need mentors and father figures. It is the inmates who have found healing that offer the most effective rehabilitation in prison. I want you to be seen as valued community members. Instead, with all of our efforts, you are often swept down a black hole and disposed of without a thought.

While I have often pondered about how difficult it is to impress on those with power that these lives in prison matter, I wondered if the men themselves think that their lives have value. How do they see themselves? Do they know themselves as remarkable beings with great gifts?

Perhaps, it would be helpful to look at themselves through the mirror of their friends perceptions of them. So, we started with a meditation on gratefulness. 

Together, we remembered that the state of gratefulness brings us into harmony and balance and healing. I asked them to be grateful for who they are. To remember where they have come from, who they have become, and to feel grateful for who they are becoming. We rested in gratefulness for their unique gifts, their strengths, their skillfulness, and their resilience in growing beyond many very difficult life challenges. I asked them to experience a knowing of who they are today.

Then, I took each man individually by his hands and escorted him around the circle to have each member tell him personally of their gratefulness in having him in their life. Each person shared something felt in that moment, or something they experienced in the past or reflected on a quality. One by one, each person heard the appreciations of all the others for him.

As the men went around, those in the circle responded by standing up and hugging the one before them while they shared, or reaching out and taking his hands, or sharing and then giving him a hug. Nothing was scripted but each interaction was warm and tender and seriously offered. Sometimes they would crack jokes, followed by their loving offering. One man said to another, "I appreciate that you are the only one who eats as many food trays as I do." Or another, "If it were not for you, I would be the shortest guy in the room." But the teasing was with warmth.

Here are some of the other very touching connections that were shared. 


"You took me fishing for the first time when we were little boys." This was said by a man who was locked up at age 16.


"We were in elementary school together. We have known each other all our lives and I love you. You are my rock."

And another: "You were the first person to speak to me when I came to prison."

And: "When I was having such a hard time the other day, you were there for me and really helped me out of a bad time."

Often, they said to one another, "I am grateful that you are my brother. I love you."

One white man who is a devoted Christian said as he hugged an African American man who is Muslim, "You are my brother from another mother."

Another said, "We were in jail together when we were kids and you came back to find me and help me."

Near the end, one black man stood up when a white man making his way around reached out and took his hands. The black man said, "I appreciate you have always been kind to me. I killed your best friend. That is why I am here. But you have always been kind."

The other man said, "Yes, I know."  The 'grateful' man said, "You never held it against me. I am grateful for that."  And the first man said, "I forgive you. You are my friend.  They hugged for a long time.

And one more:  One man had completed making his way around the circle with many heartfelt appreciations shared and then he turned to the others before sitting back down. He said to the group, "When I first came to prison, I had been the ultimate red-neck. I only hung out with those that were like me. Now, I look at this circle of brothers and I am touched by how close I am to all of you. I am in a room with Muslims and Christians and Buddhists, black and white, gay and straight, and I love you all. I am proud to call all of you my brothers. I am grateful that all of you are in my life."


Compassion Works. As they sat down after their round of gratitude, each person was a little misty eyed and in an altered state. They sat still, taking in the comments. I kept saying, feel what was given to you. And they did, deeply. They saw that their lives do matter.         
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<![CDATA[What is a Boundary?´╗┐]]>Thu, 30 Apr 2015 22:24:35 GMThttp://www.rightuseofpower.org/blog/what-is-a-boundaryby Barbara Drummond

Everyone knows what a boundary is.  It’s a line that divides one state from another; or it’s what one uses to control unwanted behaviors.  A person might say, “That kid needs some limits.”  The trouble is, when you tell a child not to eat the cookie because dinner is in 15 minutes that does not always stop the behavior.  And there are no lines between the states when you see them from an airplane. These boundaries are imaginary (or symbolic, if you prefer).  We use them to make a complex world more manageable.  And all of us behave as if when we draw a line, we actually create separation. But a boundary is not a way to control the behavior of others.  It is simply a place for people to meet.

How do people meet?  Meeting is difficult for mammals, but not for the reasons you might imagine.   According to Thomas Lewis in A General Theory of Love, “Mammals have a bodily connection so… an individual does not direct all of his own functions.  A second person transmits regulatory information that can alter hormone levels, cardiovascular function, sleep rhythms, immune function and more inside the body of the first (italics added).  The reciprocal process occurs simultaneously: the first person regulates the physiology of the second, even as he himself is regulated.” We are all connected to the people around us, whether we want to be or not. They are already inside our skins. A boundary is for you, not others. It keeps you in one state, so you can meet others. That is what I call an Edge.

Think about the last time you set a limit.  Was it easy? Did you hesitate, or not set it at all, because “I’ve tried and tried but he doesn’t listen?” Or “Ah, it doesn’t really matter?” What this “limit” has just done is separated you from yourself.  It separated your thoughts from your feelings.  All it does is make you uncomfortable, and guarantees that whoever you were going to set this limit with will not respond the way you want them to. Much of the time, setting limits makes people feel out of control rather than in control- it has the complete opposite effect than the one that was intended.

If you note your internal state, you can study what kind of uncomfortable you are and take steps to correct it. And because setting limits feels disruptive to us inside, we think it will be disruptive to the individual on the other end. But what is really disruptive to the people on the outside is our own discomfort with setting limits in the first place. We hem and haw, use too many words, demonstrate a deferential posture.  Our words say “Listen to me” and our bodies say “You don’t really have to.” We are split, and can’t be met.

If all your parts are on the same page, then the boundary doesn’t exist within you, disrupting your physiology; it exists between you and the other person; in your extra-personal space; in your visible as opposed to invisible behavior. That is the place we are well and truly met.  Used well, a boundary is the physical expression of our right to exist, organizing us and the people around us at the same time.
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<![CDATA[Using Power Well]]>Sat, 28 Feb 2015 02:04:31 GMThttp://www.rightuseofpower.org/blog/using-power-wellby Guest Columnist, Dr. Reynold Feldman Picture

This excerpt from Terranautics 101:  The Basics for Navigating an Uncertain Future  deals with one of the most important abilities—and issues—in the whole book: the right use of power and influence. To be honest, this skillset has as much to do with being ethical as it does with being effective.  In March 2013 my wife, Cedar Barstow, and I brought out a co-authored book entitled Living in the Power Zone: How Right Use of Power Can Transform Your Relationships (Many Realms Publishing). This work was a lay-readership-oriented version of Cedar’s earlier, longer book, The Right Use of Power—The Heart of Ethics (Many Realms Publishing, 2008), subtitled A Resource for the Helping Professional. Both books are based on her two-decades-old work assisting both helping professionals and lay people to use their personal and role power wisely and well—work now being carried forward by the nonprofit Right Use of Power Institute in Boulder, Colorado. In the next few pages I shall try to summarize Cedar’s and my thinking on how to use power sensitively and wisely.

The basic assumption of this body of work is that power is value neutral. The word itself means simply the ability to have an effect or have influence. I think of horse power, that motive energy that can transport people from place to place or even into space and that can also be lethal. The second assumption is that if people are willing—a big if, I admit—virtually anyone can learn to use their power with greater wisdom, sensitivity, and skill. Cedar has in fact developed workshops of various lengths to help participants do just that; has taught those workshops, sometimes with my assistance, around the world; and has also trained more than 250 facilitators to teach Right Use of Power as well.

According to Cedar there are four types of power: personal, professional or role, status, and collective. There’s not much an individual can do about status power, although collectively over time statuses can change. An example of the latter is the Women’s Movement, which has raised the general status and social power of women in many countries. Whereas several generations ago, women were restricted to the German Three Ks (Kinder, Kueche, and Kirche; children, kitchen, and church), the United States may be on the threshold of having a female president, something Germany has had in Chancellor Merkel for a decade. Collective power, as in the Women’s Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and labor unionism, is based, meanwhile, on the united power of the many. As the Japanese proverb puts it, one stick is easily broken, but a dozen sticks bound together are not.

The Right Use of Power Program focuses primarily on personal and role power. The former is the birthright of everyone. Even a screaming baby has the ability to get others to do its bidding. When it comes to role power, we put on power vis à vis others when we gain the authority of a position. For example, the lowliest managers have power over those reporting to them, while a company’s CEO has power over all the managers, vice presidents, and even her or his Number Two. The question for Cedar is how one negotiates this power differential. Her conclusion is that to be both ethical and effective, we have to use whatever power we have with sensitivity to the feelings and humanity of those below us in the chain of command. Her point is that while an authoritarian boss who uses their up-power position without such sensitivity may get grudging, fear-based support from his or her staff, a leader adept at using power wisely will develop a team that enthusiastically helps achieve the company’s priority goals.

So what must up-power people keep in mind to work most effectively with those lower than them in the pecking order? First, there is the 150% Principle. In any lopsided relationship the boss must remember that whereas all parties to that relationship have 100% responsibility for its success, he or she as the up-power person has for better or worse an additional 50%. What this means in practice is that parents, for example, who are by definition up-power to their children, have to be especially careful about what they say or do. Why? Because a word of criticism or the breaking of a promise on their part can have a profound negative effect on their child. The same is true in the boss-employee relationship. A related idea is understanding that the impact of what we do doesn't necessarily equate with our intentions. Thinking back a generation or two, parents who spanked their children would routinely say things like “I’m doing this for your own good.” From the child’s perspective, however, this larger, stronger authority figure was simply acting like a bully. Often, in fact, the abused child ends up becoming an abuser him- or herself as a parent, and a vicious cycle (the impact) is created from the desire to be a good parent (the intent). Terranauts, especially as they come into leadership positions, therefore need to take into account the importance of implementing the 150% Principle and track when the desired impacts of what they do fail to line up with their intentions. At that point they must have the maturity to make mid-point corrections to insure a more favorable outcome.

A third important concept of the Right Use of Power work is that feedback is an investment in relationship. Often, people in power are screened off and protected from hearing bad news. Moreover, it is frequently dangerous for down-power individuals to suggest to the boss that he or she may be doing something that is self-defeating or wrong. This fear-of-losing-your-job syndrome is doubtless why, in Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale, none of the king’s courtiers dared to tell their majesty that he was naked. Instead, it took a child who wasn’t on the court payroll. Similarly, in the crash some years ago of an Asian commercial airliner, the co-pilot noticed, per the cockpit recorder, that the pilot had made a life-endangering mistake but was unwilling or unable to point out or correct that mistake of his superior. As a result, several hundred passengers and the entire crew lost their lives. Apparently, the co-pilot was unable to give this crucial feedback to his boss out of respect for the latter’s authority. Yet while providing timely feedback can be crucial, it also creates a stronger bond between the up- and down-power individuals provided the former has the capacity and humility to ask for, graciously accept, and—if appropriate—implement feedback from those in down-power positions.

Obviously, in three pages I am unable to do more than touch upon several of the important concepts and techniques in a body of work contained in 450+ pages of printed text. Nevertheless, Cedar’s overall recommendation can be summarized thus: While standing in our power, we should stay in our hearts. In other words, we need to remember how it feels when those in power treat us well or badly and behave towards those below us as we would want to be treated by our own supervisors. After all, even the mightiest CEO has a board of directors over him or her, and even the President of the United States when he (currently) goes in for his annual physical is down-power to his physician.

If this Golden Rule-style philosophy seems out of place in the corridors of power, this absence may be the cause of so much of the bad news we read about daily in our newspapers. Outstanding leaders rally and mentor their followers by good examples and fair treatment; bad ones do just the opposite. I thus encourage Terranauts to remember and internalize the principles and practices outlined above and to learn to exercise whatever power they have or may assume with wisdom, sensitivity, and skill.


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<![CDATA[Acknowledging Those Who Have Lighted Our Way]]>Thu, 27 Nov 2014 04:54:30 GMThttp://www.rightuseofpower.org/blog/acknowledging-those-who-have-lighted-our-way
by Cedar Barstow, M.Ed.

A small boat river cruise up the Danube River and through the Balkan countries in Europe was a deeply nourishing and relaxing way to celebrate my 70th birthday and my husband Ren's 75th birthday.

It also put us in the crossroads of multiple cultures and multiple political powers. For eleven days we traveled up the Danube, river of trade and transportation, and of conquest and defense. Our warm and competent crew members were Romanian and Serbian, our food was local and authentic.  Outside Vidin, Bulgaria, we visited the excavation of a settlement begun 10,000 years ago. The river was their life-blood and they buried their dead heads down-stream and stretched out parallel to the river quite possibly to honor the river as carrier of souls. Indeed, the steady, smooth movement of the water carried our bodies and souls well, too.  

From Romania through Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria, we stopped in a port city every day and were treated to a tour by a well-informed and engaging local guide. Between times of peace, history records conquest, cruelty, oppression, and exploitation. Painful to hear and remember, these Balkan countries have over and over again been the battle-ground of not just armies, but cultures.  The Celts, the Romans, the Ottoman Turks, and the Communists have all left their indelible marks--forts, statues, ruins, bullet holes in walls and a racial mix.

Most of history describes uses of power based in the belief that power is defined by acquisition, wealth, and control and gained and maintained by force and exploitation. (Does this sound globally familiar?)

So, I was deeply moved by several stories of another belief about power--that it could be defined by the happiness and health of all the people and gained and maintained by treating people well. This paradigm of power is a more socially intelligent one and the one that Right Use of Power programs are aiming toward.

In 1331 "Stefan Dushan ascended the Serbian throne.  In the Serbian language, Dushan is an endearing diminutive of dusha, meaning "soul"--the cognomen one would expect for a kind under whom Serbia reached its zenith of glory.  Dushan sanctioned religious freedom and permitted foreign embassies to be attached to his court.  He established a taxation system and a rule of law--the Dushan code--that featured trials by jury." (Robert D. Kaplan: Balkan Ghosts:  A Journey Through History)

In 1740-1780 Austrian Queen Maria Theresa and then her son King Joseph II from 1780-1790 enacted some remarkable humanitarian changes. For the first time the church and nobility were taxed, there was six years of obligatory education for all children, free health-care was provided and a general hospital opened, the serfs were freed, there was enlightened treatment of the mentally ill, reusable coffins were mandated and no more than six candles could be used at funerals, and a royal park was opened to the public. These changes were not popular with the church, nobility, and other royals, but it pre-empted the revolutionary anger that raged elsewhere at that time.

Even earlier, in 1036, Saint Istvan (Steven), Ruler of Hungary, is recorded to have given some wise and enlightened advice to his son, Prince Imre. "Make the strangers welcome in this land. Let them keep their languages and customs. For weak and fragile is the realm that is based on a single language or on a single set of customs."  I found this quote on the wall in a local diamond factory and shop in Vienna.


The Ottoman Turks had great influence on the Balkans beginning in the 16th century when they invaded and brought their religion and culture. Although not found on this Danube cruise, these teachings are notable because the author was a Turk and a Muslim. Haci Bektas Veli (commonly Haji Bektashi), a Sufi master, taught his students:

Search and find.
Educate the women.
Even if you are hurt, don't hurt.
First stage of attainment is modesty.a Sufi teacher,
Whatever you look for, search in you.
Don't forget even your enemy is human.
Control your hand, your word, your lust.
Road that doesn't go through science is perilous.
How nice to ones who put light in the darkness of thought.
Don't do anything to anyone if you don't was it to be done to you.


We found these statements written on a wall at Haji Bektash's mosque in Anatolia, Turkey in 2011 while on our honeymoon. They were written in about 1280 and his vision is similar to the 1948 UN Charter on Human Rights, a remarkable and inspiring modern document.

At this Thanksgiving time, I am focusing my thanks toward those who in all times and all places, found the wisdom, compassion, and courage to speak out and take action for the health and empowerment of all. People like the ones quoted here who found ways to link their power with their hearts.  Some of the teachers I would like to honor are Elizabeth Cogburn, Ron Kurtz, Jean Haynes, Angeles Arrien, John Hunt, Jean Houston, Barney Aldrich, Robbins and Margaret Barstow. Perhaps you'd like to name some of those who have guided your way.

Bon Jovi was recently presented with the Marian Anderson Award for musical and philanthropic endeavors. Accepting this award, he encouraged the crowd:  "Let us draw from those that have come before us to do the work we are called to do."
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<![CDATA[The Shadow Effects of Leadership Power]]>Thu, 18 Sep 2014 17:25:15 GMThttp://www.rightuseofpower.org/blog/the-shadow-effects-of-leadership-powerPicture
Power, the ability to have an effect or to have influence, is our birthright. We all have power and need it to survive, to have relationships, and to be productive. Think how much power a baby has when he or she cries or laughs.

Our lives are full of relationships where there are power differences, and we all move back and forth between being in what I call “up-power” and “down-power” roles. For example, there is a power differential between a CEO and the employees, a doctor and the patients, a clergyperson and the parishioners, a teacher and the students. Both sets of people in these relationships have their personal power, but the person in the up-power role has the additional power that accompanies his/her assigned, elected, or earned role. A therapist moves from up-power with a person in therapy to down-power with a supervisor. A CEO going to the dentist moves from up- to down-power. We make this shift more often than we notice.

Research (Google: Joris Lammers, power; Dacher Keltner, power paradox) is showing that people who have greater power act differently from people who have lesser power. Increased or decreased power has cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and somatic effects. “Good” people tend to have the idea that those who abuse their up-power do so because they are simply greedy, fearful, self-aggrandizing, or power-hungry. However, it turns out that the situation is more complicated. Power affects everyone, and unless it is understood and mediated, very often it results in abuses. In fact, the greater the power difference, the greater and more widespread the harm. The widely held idea (Lord Acton) that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is largely true.

There are two ways to respond to this information. The first is to decide that power is bad; therefore, if you don’t want to cause harm, don’t have power, or if you have it, pretend you don’t. A teacher tries to be “just friends” with her students. A committee chair gives a committee member too many chances to get something done. A therapist fails to assess the effectiveness of the therapeutic process. A CEO doesn’t hold the employees accountable.

The second way is to learn about the effects of power so that you can notice and mediate them by using or responding to positional power with wisdom and skill, whether you are up-power or down-power.

So, what are these effects, and what kind of self-reinforcing loop do these effects create?

Read the rest of the article here


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