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Competition or altruism - which Power House do you live in?

Which Power House do you frequent? And is it the best home for you? Are you a power house your self?

You might have noticed that many people get awfully confused about their power. Questions they ask are:

1. Is it fair for me to be 'selfish' and look after my own interests?

2. Shouldn't I compete to make sure I stand out? Do I have to?

3. What should I share with a partner?

4. What about the rest of the world and those still suffering?

Confusion is rooted in trying to balance our conscience between 'mine', 'me - and you', 'the two of us', and 'all of us'. The result can be guilt, stress, fear, inflated ego, self-centredness and so on when you are confused about your essential personal power. Basically you end up feeling disempowered. Do any of these resonate with you? What usually causes you power problems?

We all have power, and we all have a right and obligation to use it well. So what's the answer?

Here's a simple way to work out when to exercise your power and what kind of power to exercise.

I call these the Four Houses of Power. At any one time you will find yourself headed home to one or more of them and you will be aware of them all when you make a choice - hence the emotional challenge to your values and the resulting discomfort.

Imagine these as a four-square grid.

Power House One

Theme: 'Me and Mine'

In this house you must value what is your very own. In this house you create your security, protect your values and build your wealth. This Power House ensures you are protected, no matter the circumstances. This is a foundational Power House where you take full responsibility for your own well-being and meet your needs.

Power House Two

Theme: 'Me - and You'

In this Power House you shine. You can stand centre stage, be your best and compete with other individuals to better or outshine them. Your sense of ego-strength gets tested here. You can play, flirt with life, and go for gold. You can go one-on-one. Hopefully you will find some applause here too. Think 'rock star' and you have the idea. Not much sharing here other than a heap of playful fun! It's where you find the classic power-play.

Power House Three

Theme:'The Two of Us'

In this Power House you combine your resources with a partner in an equal 'marriage' of power. together you are greater than the sum of the parts. You decide what you pool with the other (remembering to keep something substantial in Power House One for your self). Joint decisions are made, applying the resources with both stakeholders in mind. The power is shared here - as are the challenges. This is the house of 'marriage' where responsibility is shared and taken on fully by either party, one propping up the other in times of difficulty.

Power House Four

Theme: 'All of Us'

In this Power House you are an equal amongst equals. No matter what is contributed to the team, everyone is an equal. The aim is for the greater good of all here, including those less able. This is where you look to change the world with an altruistic goal of betterment. You can shift the leadership around depending on the skills needed at the time. Wear a badge of authority, but share the power. A true leader is able to stand in the role and yet take all stakeholders and their roles into account as a team of equals. The power belongs to all of us. Everyone shares equally in the benefits. It's the house of true altruism.

The consequences

No one house is more important than the other but you can see how they differ in focus where equality is concerned. If you sacrifice 'me and mine' for any other house you can leave yourself disenfranchised. If you sacrifice 'me - and you' you don't stand out and you can't measure your power. If you sacrifice 'the two of us' you miss out on the depth of shared power in a united front. If you sacrifice 'all of us' you risk falling back into 'me - and you' and competing rather than uniting with a team of equals with a meaningful 'global' cause that takes everyone's interests to heart.

Where does your power play?

Which Power House do you find yourself living in most of the time? What about your partner or team members? What effect does it have on your sense of power?

Take time in your day to be more aware of which home you have returned to and is it appropriate for the situation? Could you learn something from this house that, if worked on, would improve your overall work performance and life experience?

Scan your business or organisation. Which Power Houses tend to be favoured in the culture of the organisation? Is it for the better?

Embracing All of Us

Organisations ultimately must hang out in Power House Four. The obligation is to everyone, equally, as contributors to the overall vision and mission. Work on this Power House - there's a lot more to it of course - and you will begin to shift the power-base to a more inclusive, egalitarian and supportive workplace.

Equally, see how these dynamics work within your self, your sports team, your marriage and family dynamics.

Author: Indira Kennedy

Indira Kennedy assists leaders to manage their power consciously through her business Conscious Leadership Australia. For more information contact Indira at

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