We spend our lives in search of power, however we define it: money, popularity, fame, beauty, health. Most of us never realize we already have the only power that matters.
- Marathon: On Track. I ran my fastest mile so far this year on Friday.
- Two Square Yards of Earth: Making Progress. I finished Chapter 5 on Wednesday.
- 100 Posts: On Track. This is my 24th post of the year.
Most of us are obsessed with power, whether we recognize it or not. Even if we’re not seeking more money or more fame or a better position at work, we’re marveling at the prowess of the athletes on TV, or envying the celebrity lifestyle, or analyzing whatever mistake the president or Congress has made today. And if we’re not doing any of those, we’re probably complaining about our boss, or our landlord, or our kid’s teacher. Or we’re watching TV, or reading, or playing a computer game, and imagining for a brief moment that we’re as powerful as the characters whose lives we’re watching.
What most of us aren’t doing is actively working to increase our own power. Because it’s hard, and it takes a lot of work, and there’s no guarantee that if we do the work we’ll end up with the power.
We’re wrong on that last point. If we do the work, we will have the power. It just may not be the power we think we’re seeking.
Instead, it will be the only power that really matters to any of us: the power to control ourselves.
I’m not talking merely about self-discipline. See, I can exercise my self-discipline to make myself do something I don’t want to do because somebody else wants me to do it, and I have granted that person power over me. Self-discipline alone is not power.
Power–real power, ultimate power–comes from within. It comes when I recognize my responsibility toward my own life. If I do something I don’t want to do, ultimate power is recognizing I have a choice, and I am choosing this over the alternative. I may choose it because the alternative is even less favorable, but I am making the choice. I choose my own actions. I chart my own course.
My power grows every time I get up to run even though I don’t feel like it.
My power grows every time I sit down to write even though I have no idea what I want to say.
My power grows every time I catch myself complaining about traffic and remind myself that I chose to drive to this destination at this time of day.
Each of us got where we are by a series of decisions. The more we recognize that fact, the more we own our part in getting here, the more power we have to change ourselves.
And changing ourselves is what will allow us to change our circumstances.
In fact, it will make it inevitable.