There is a great scene in a Game of Thrones episode where Tyrion and Varys are discussing the roots of power. There is one quote in particular that resonates with me:
“Power resides where men believe it resides.”
This is a very interesting observation and while it was said in regards to the ever changing tides of power among the of Kings in Westeros it holds true in our everyday dealings with authority as well.
This quote highlighted a new idea to me, that power is a very fluid and an almost imaginary quality. You only have as much power as other people think you do. You can attach a number to wealth, occupy a rank in a hierarchy, and assume privileges according to headcount but how do you measure influence?
In our careers there are plenty of figures imposing their perceived power over us. The mistake is forgetting the quote above, that this designation is largely arbitrary and people only have as much power we give them.Yes, your manager can decided to give you good projects or not, use your talents or not, or even choose to pay you or not – but it is in your power to still do great work and ultimately decide if you want to work for them or not.
If you make the right moves, put yourself in the right situations, and listen you will always find yourself in the driver’s seat of your career. Do these and making that last determination isn’t that daunting and is fully in your control.
It is fine to follow a great leader and to respect authority, after all they didn’t get into that position for no reason, but knowing that power over your career is something you assign is a powerful thought.
Photo Courtesy of screeninvasion.com