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Changing Our Definition of Power

Tomorrow I’ll be giving a “Power & Presence” workshop for the San Francisco Chapter of Girls In Tech. I’ve been looking forward to this workshop for months, because the women I meet through Girls In Tech always dazzle me with their purpose and energy. So of course, when I saw that today is International Women’s Day, I was reminded of what a privilege it is to work with these women, teaching them to be more powerful speakers!

But as I was putting together my presentation, something interesting happened. I was searching out images to represent the word “Power,” and within a few seconds, I realized that I was seeing a visual representation of just how confused we are as a culture – a world culture – about the definition of “power.”

As you can imagine, my search pulled up mostly images of men, and when they featured women, it was in “masculine” settings: A woman flexing her muscles. A woman with a gun in her hand. Or, worse yet, a woman pushing her stiletto into the back of a man who was laying face down, looking terrified.

Annoyed, but not surprised, I decided to search for some alternate key words. This time I tried “joy,” then “collaboration” and then “enthusiasm.” Bingo. These images were of people (men and women) shining in their various ways.

This will be our work at tomorrow night’s event: There is a fierce power inside each of us, and it looks a whole lot like collaboration, enthusiasm and joy. When we tap that source each time we stand in front of an audience, magic happens. Authenticity happens. Generosity happens.

I truly believe that there is a new kind of power rising. It doesn’t bully. It doesn’t intimidate, and it doesn’t coerce. This new power can transform a situation, and take us further than we ever dreamed possible. And it doesn’t just belong to women.

On this, International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate those who have taught us what is possible when enthusiasm, joy and love replace doubt, pessimism, and fear.

Let us each be a light in this world today. Shine on, you crazy diamonds.

Northern America
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