Detail image for March 2023 Publisher's Blog story.Power is a Delicate Thing

Written by Tawana Bain

I struggle to understand how to quantify power. Why some are so hungry for it. Why some abuse it. And why some don’t even realize they have it.

I’ve found in life that the quickest way to see what a person is all about is to see what they do with a bit of power when they get it. Does it go to their head? Do they forsake long-held values in pursuit of maintaining it? We often think that power can eclipse insecurity, but really, I think it magnifies it.

In speaking with a few colleagues on their observations, it appears that some of our fellow human beings develop an over-inflated sense of self due to the power bestowed upon them. 

They will blindly place delicate and very important things at risk attempting to obtain or maintain it. Jobs, reputations, friendships, even familial ties. 

Whether we have a pulpit for the children we are raising, a massive social media following, or a lead role in an organization, how power is wielded can result in mobilizing destruction or building something sustainable. It’s ours to choose. 

I’ve spent some time thinking about this, and this month, I want to carve out five specific areas that I see us getting caught up in when we acquire or have proximity to power and are not well-equipped to do right by it.

 1. Entitlement – Nothing is owed to us, and what is theirs is not ours. People have the right to say no, cross you off the guest list, change their mind about dating you, being your friend, or even choosing to speak to you. While these things may not feel good, we are not entitled to lash out. So often, I see people seeking retaliation for what was never theirs. It baffles me to no end. Yes, sure — be upset, maybe even a little hurt, but let’s work on regaining what you can control without demonizing someone for saying you can no longer have a seat at their table or play with their toys. 

2. Lack of regard for others under your dominion – Anyone who holds power should never forget that they are fortunate to have it. We talk about this a lot in society today, but it’s easy to see that for many of us in a position of authority, the message just isn’t sinking in that having little to no regard for people just because of your position is not OK. Let me repeat this again for the people in the back of the room. It. Is. Not. OK. How many of us will have to suffer before the powers that be figure out that might does not always make right? To paraphrase Stevie Wonder, “Heaven help the one who kicks the one who has to crawl … Heaven help us all.” 

3. Lack of sight or understanding of how to respect your sister’s position of power – This is the big one. It’s painful to watch people lose respect for people in positions of power simply because they have been invited into the room. I believe deeply that just because you are in her presence does not mean her power has diminished. It’s easy to forget what made you enamored with her position before you were invited to share her space, and just because you’ve become comfortable doesn’t mean her position has changed. Having proximity to someone with power is a gift and does not mean their power is lessened because you have access to them. In fact, it actually may mean your power has increased, and nurturing your newfound position should be more important than dissecting or tearing apart hers. 

4. Losing sight of reality/becoming blinded by power – Even if you’ve earned the seat doesn’t mean you should remain seated forever. Seasons. Reasons and Lifetimes. Perhaps your seat was for the season in time. It’s important to recognize when you have accomplished what you were placed in that seat for and be ready to move on to your next reason or season. Moreover, it’s important to make space for the next person so they, too, can reach a seat they have been striving toward. While our hearts always desire to expand the table, some tables were not designed to expand or don’t have built-in pull-out leaves to enlarge them. 

5. Abandoning integrity to maintain it – It’s easy to get caught up and lose sight of who you are or what put you where you are. And if you’re behind a wall on your throne, you can’t see anything beyond your own environment. As we move through the stations of life, our values inevitably change. Our concepts of nobility can cross over into our ego. Losing one’s compass is easy, especially if you’re fighting for a cause that is no longer relevant. We all have our crosses to bear, and we all are probably closer to the edge of oblivion than we want to admit, even to ourselves.

“Heaven help the one who kicks the one who has to crawl … Heaven help us all.” 

Ultimately, maybe the real power is knowing the difference between power and influence. And rather than walking around unleashing your power, you store it up and work toward building upon your influence. Doing what you say you will do, leading by example and having the wherewithal to get things done, treating others the way you want to be treated, and not expecting anything in return. As Warren Buffet was recently quoted, “If you get to this age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.”

Hopefully, you are lucky enough to have a tribe of friends who are not too shy to tell you when you are getting too big for your britches and over-leveraging your power. None of us should live in a vacuum. If you don’t have sisters willing to keep it real with you, I urge you to place this on your “must-do” list for 2023. We live in a village, and we must be willing to serve or receive what comes along with being our sister’s keeper.


#TodaysSisters #WeSeeYouSis

Read the February 2023 Publisher’s Blog.