Influence versus Power

My last post about being Powerless generated a lot of feedback. Some agreed with my points, some didn’t. Here are a few I thought you’d enjoy and can learn from:

From Dean: Awesome!  What a timely reminder for me not to over-manage. I’m constantly railing about how people learn by doing—not by being told, or reading; yet, I continue to leap into a problem because (my ego) knows how to fix it. I can’t teach empowerment to marionettes.


From Anne: I always enjoy and get something from your posts—they are great reminders. And I sometimes think, like the Zen teachers say, “Not always so! In this case, I agree about some kinds of control creating suffering and it’s a great reminder. However, that doesn’t mean you have no influence, which is not powerless—it’s just not a rigid attempt to get what you want with a predetermined outcome in mind. And you can almost always request, as long as you do it without deciding that the only acceptable answer is yes.

I also don’t agree that all unsolicited advice is wasted—it often sits somewhere in the back of the receiver’s mind until future circumstances or situations find it useful, and it is very important to give it if people might otherwise suffer some loss or harm by not having it. So you do have power, just not the kind our egos seek.

Control is not the same as power – it is the attempt to control according to the wishes of the ego that causes suffering. This is dominance, not power.

Who do I think of as highly influential?

  • Bill Clinton – he influences by creating a sense of affinity, by appealing personality
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. – influenced by inspiring people with his words and passion
  • Gandhi – influenced by being a model, by his actions and showing the way.

Gandhi also gave lots of advice. So did Jesus! Positive advice is necessary and helpful. Wisdom knows when too much advice actually hinders the recipient, or when it is “casting pearls before swine”.

And…….if you want to learn a lot more about lack of control, just plant and tend a garden!


Les Taylor, Performance Management Expert: Great Post! Here’s a formula for ya:  E+R=O

Event + Response = Outcome. More often than not it’s not the event that determines the outcome—it’s our response to the event that creates the outcome.


From Jack:  “Powerless” is a g-r-e-a-t Subject Line. Had to read your article. I have to disagree somewhat, though, just to say we must exert power and influence bravely – even when we know it’s like throwing a stone in the ocean. In a world threatening meltdown right now, I believe we will be called on to use our inner rational selves more.


From Vickie: Here’s the best “power line” … oooh, I like that: “One of the best ways to find time to take better care of yourself is to stop doing for others what they can and want to do for themselves.”  Great article!!!


I always love it when you take time to write and I value all your comments whether you agree or disagree with me.

I do believe there is a place for influence and we should exercise it whenever we want. That said, any time you try and influence someone out of anger at what they’re doing or, as Anne says, from a place of ego, I don’t believe it will turn out the way you hoped. Because the Law of Attraction says that you get more of what you focus on, the easiest way to influence any outcome is to keep you eyes on what you want, not what you don’t want.

I’m keeping my eyes focused on what a great life I have, warts and all. How about you?

Click here for PDF of this post.