The business of business
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There are dozens of business books on shelves everywhere with ideas on how to gain power, how to move ahead in your career, how to beat out competition, how to be recognized as a leader, how to develop as a leader, and influence/persuasion. Even during the Renaissance, the craft of power and cunning captured the attention of many when we were introduced to the works of Machiavelli.
True power is not about cunning or deceit, strength or getting what you want. It is about the organic growth of influence through value and good works. I can buy connections on LinkedIn, likes on Facebook, followers on Twitter. I can manipulate through keywords and hashtags, but unless I offer truth in advertising, veracity of worth, and the “real thing” – it is just purchasing power, not influence that matters.
I do not necessarily agree with historian Thomas Carlyle who stated, “No man lives without jostling and being jostled, in all ways he has to elbow himself through the world, giving and receiving offence.” Work is, indeed, required but with elbow grease, not elbowing. I have never been a fan of those who climb over others to get what and where they want or those who discount the encouragement and help they received along the way.
Ego and Risk
We do not need to tear anyone down in order to achieve personal success. Ego is important, yes – it is almost a required characteristic of someone who achieves power and success. However, there is great significance to the value of humility, remaining humble and appreciative of those who backed you, supported you, invested in you…
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And we mustn’t forget the “Risk Factor” of a power grab. There is much to be lost when short-sightedness precludes the grabber from calculating and then appreciating the risk.
They laughed at me…
When I first went back to school to get my business degree, I was asked to stand before one class, introduce myself and then state why I had returned to school, why was I pursuing a biz degree. I stood proudly, talked about the work I was currently doing, what I loved about business, and then I said, “I have gone back to school because I am going to be a CEO.”
[Silence in the room]
And then a burst of laughter. Every single one of my classmates laughed at me.
I looked around stunned by the genuine lack of comprehension or vision – a vision which I assumed each of them was there to achieve, as well. Boy, was I wrong – way off.
I just smiled back at the crowd and said, “You’ll see.”
Your power is yours to grow, to keep, to nurture, to shut down, to share. No one can take it away, unless you give it to them. Interesting thing about influence and power though, the less you self-aggrandize, the more you share and build others up, leadership and the mantle of organic power comes to rest on you and in your domain, whether professional or personal.
My craft of power is not Machiavellian. I cannot be that way. There are many who can as evidenced by politics, corporate greed, and the history of the world. My craft of power is to build those up around me and watch where and how they take me on their rise.
The brilliant lecturer Robert Ingersoll had it right, “We rise by lifting others.”
Be the right kind of hot air.