On this blog, for the past three weeks I have been discussing the nature of personal power.
I’ve also been constructing a list, in alphabetical order, of the main sources of power. So far, the list looks like this:
THE ABCs OF POWER
A=Advancing Skill (see The ABCs of Power: The letter “A”)
B=Breaking Down a Conflict into its Three Conditions: Desire, Interference and Guilt (see The ABCs of Power: The Letter “B”)
C=Coalitions (see The ABCs of Power: The Letter “C”).
When the list is completed, there will be sources of power all the way up to the letter “F.” But before we expand the list to include these other three sources of power, let’s take a little time to look at some examples of individuals who use just the first three sources of power. This will allow readers to become more familiar with how this list can become helpful in a variety of situations.
It’s summer, and Tommy, a thirteen year old Brooklyn boy, loves to play basketball at the nearby school yard. It’s a pretty big school yard, and he and his friends play pick-up games at one end, while the older kids play pick-up games at the other end. Near where the big guys play is the water fountain.
In summer, after a game, Tommy needs a good drink of water. But lately, some of the big kids at school who have bullied him have been playing in the big kids’ game.
The last time Tommy tried to get a drink of water after a game, the bullies really gave him a hard time. That was yesterday. Now Tommy wants to go play basketball, but he doesn’t know what to do about the water fountain problem. All last night he imagined he was Superman and he beat-up the bullies using his super powers.
But that really didn’t solve the problem. ” What should I really do about this?” he asks himself.
He remembers that his counselor at school gave him a list of the sources of power and taught him how to use it. He goes and gets the list.
The first item on the list says A=Advancing Skill. “Hmmm,” he says to himself, “can I learn some skills to take care of these bullies? The only thing I can think of is to learn Karate, but it would take years for me to get good enough to get the bullies to leave me alone. Let me look at the next thing on the list. It says, B=Breaking Down a Conflict into its Three Conditions: Desire, Interference and Guilt.
“To use this source of power,”says Tommy, “I have to first describe my conflict using the word DIG to remind myself to dig for the conflict by first describing my desire, then what is interfering with my desire, and then the guilt. Okay, that’s pretty easy. I desire to get a drink after each basketball game. Interfering with this is some of the big kids by the fountain who like to pick on me. I think those big kids picking on me are guilty of being bullies.
“Now that I broke the conflict into the three parts, let me see if I can change just one part to make things better. The first part is my desire. How can I get my desire for a drink after a game despite those kids at the fountain?”
After thinking about this for a while, he converts this source of power into a plan. “I’ll bring some water from home.”
Tommy goes down to the schoolyard with his school backpack carrying a couple of bottles of water and his basketball. He now has all the water he needs between games.
By staying away from the big kids who like to pick on him, he finds that he has no more trouble with them.
The list of the “ABCs of Power,” gets you to start thinking about finding some realistic solutions. Once Tommy began to think about what he could do to achieve his desire despite what was interfering with this desire, the problem became simpler to manage.
It’s important to keep in mind that if you can’t come up with a plan by yourself, you can utilize the third source of power on the “ABCs of Power” list–COALITIONS. What I mean by this is when using the ABCs of Power, it is often helpful to get together a coalition of some people whom you respect and together you can go down the list while trying to come up with a plan.
Charlie Brown is the Manager of his baseball team.
Although he tries his best, he gets one criticism after another.
Let’s say that Charlie Brown has been learning to use the “ABCs of Power” list, and he begins to wonder how he can use it to achieve his desire to become a better manager. He takes a look at the list and sees that the first item on the list is–
“Hmmm,” he says to himself, “how can I learn some skills to be a better manager?”
This question helps him to come up with a plan. First, he goes on the internet, puts into his search engine–“learning to become a better baseball manager.” From this, he tracks down relevant material written by experts on how to run a baseball team.
One of the strategies that is recommended is to watch a local college baseball team practice to see how its coach runs the team.
When Charlie Brown goes to a college baseball team practice, he is struck by how there is so little standing around by the other players when the coach is working with a few of the players. All the other players have some assignment to work on their own skills while they wait for the coach to direct his attention to them.
Hmmm, Charlie Brown thinks to himself, when I hit ground balls to my infielders, I have my outfielders stand in the outfield watching. Then, after I finish hitting some ground balls, I then hit some fly balls to the outfielders, while the infielders just stand in the infield taking some throws back to me so I can hit another fly ball. Too much time is wasted by carrying out a practice like this.
Charlie Brown, after watching this college practice, instructs his outfielders that whenever he’s working with his infielders, they are to play a special game in the outfield that is designed to help them work on their skills. The left fielder is to throw a fly ball to the center fielder, who then throws a fly ball to the right fielder. The right fielder, after catching the fly ball, tries to fire the ball back to the center fielder as if he is trying to throw out a runner on second, and then the center fielder is to fire the ball back to the left fielder as if he is trying to throw out a runner heading home.
Charlie Brown also gives other players who are not out on the field, different games to play that are designed to practice one skill or another. He urges everyone to use all of the time they are at practice to work on a skill and to never just stand around. In this way, his team begins to get three times as much practice advancing their skills in the same practice period then before Charlie Brown went to watch the college coach. His players begin to say that they are enjoying practice far more under the new set of practice rules, and soon this pays off in the amount of games that they begin to win.
We see here an example of how the “ABCs of Power” list can help someone to better achieve a desire. Charlie Brown could have become all caught up in a net of excuses for why his team always complains about him and why they never win a game. But the sources of power list helps to redirect him to focus on some ways to come up with a practical plan.
In addition to focusing on the item on the list called, “Advancing skills,” Charlie Brown could have joined that source of power with the source of power known as “Coalitions.” This might have helped him to come up with a different type of plan. For example, he might have thought about organizing a fundraiser with each of his players offering to do some special chores around their family’s house, like washing the car. The goal would be that each player earns five dollars. By pooling the money, which might amount to $50.00, Charlie might persuade the college coach to help him identify someone he knows who is in training to become a baseball coach. With a little financial incentive, an aspiring coach might come to one of Charlie Brown’s baseball practices. The team could then learn how a person who is a grown-up with specialized skills in running a baseball team runs a practice session.
Learning to use the “ABCs of Power” list for a wide range of conflicts requires that people see quite a few examples of others using the list. Today’s lesson was designed to begin providing those necessary examples. Have a great week!
Some people will enjoy reading this blog by beginning with the first post and then moving forward to the next more recent one; then to the next one; and so on. This permits readers to catch up on some ideas that were presented earlier and to move through all of the ideas in a systematic fashion to develop their emotional and social intelligence. To begin at the very first post you can click HERE.