The Future Of Power
The late, great historian Howard Zinn wrote in Failure to Quit: Reflections of an Optimistic Historian: “The struggle for justice should never be abandoned because of the apparent overwhelming power of those who have the guns and the money and who seem invincible in their determination to hold on to it. That apparent power has, again and again, proved vulnerable to human qualities less measurable than bombs and dollars: moral favor, determination, unity, organization, sacrifice, wit, ingenuity, courage and patience.”
I was invited to attend “The Future of Power Dialogue” evening program at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, Boston last week. The Future of Power is a global initiative that explores the future of power — both personally and collectively — through a combination of talks, dialogues and meditation. The program was initiated by Nizar Juma, the chairman of over 50 companies in Africa and Canada. He partners with the Brahma Kumaris, a worldwide spiritual movement dedicated to personal transformation and world renewal. The FOP dialogues have been held in over 60 cities in India and Australia over the past six years, and are now extending to several cities across the United States.
From the World Economic Forum to Harvard Business School, leaders are embracing the idea that reflective practice and inner awareness — defined as soft power — are fundamental to effective leadership in our times. In his new book Subtle Activism, author David Nicol, PhD, catalogues the scientific research linking inner power and social change. Although a hard, survival-based power structure has dominated humanity for thousands of years, a shift in current thinking about power is underway as women share more equally in positions of leadership, and concepts like mindfulness training and diversity awareness are becoming mainstream.
At the event, Mr. Juma shared his extensive experience working with both hard power (guns, laws, money, corruption, privilege) and soft power (cooperation, meditation, humility, courage, truth) and how soft power could readily shift the world. Small group dialogues inspired additional ideas about power. A personal 10-point plan of action to stimulate and encourage soft power in our lives was offered:
1. Control your thinking — We cause such damage to ourselves with negative thinking. Install traffic control over your thoughts; this means to check throughout the day — are my thoughts negative or positive? Are they wasteful or powerful? The more thoughts you have, the less powerful the intellect.
2. Stop anger – Anger causes stress, fear and anxiety. It increases the number of thoughts in the mind and thereby reduces the power of the intellect to respond accurately. Anger depletes our inner power.
3. Meditate daily — This is the most important step. Meditation teaches you to reduce the number of thoughts you have and increase the power of your intellect. Meditation is vital to developing soft power.
4. Don’t give sorrow – Be aware of the words you speak and the actions you perform; they will cycle back to you. If I give sorrow, at some point I will also have to take sorrow.
5. Don’t take sorrow — When others are trying to give you sorrow or sharing the sorrow that they have in their hearts, be careful not to take it on yourself.
6. Stop the blame game – We are responsible for our own thoughts and actions. No one else is to blame.
7. Schedule a meeting with yourself daily — We have become so busy we sometimes forget to take reflection time.
8. Manage your energy well – Break regularly to refresh yourself. This keeps your energy level full instead of going into depletion.
9. Do something selfless everyday — Ask yourself: how can I be of help to someone today? Do this for no reason other than to please someone or to give someone something they need. This simple act will change your thinking process.
10. Control over-dependence on technology — Create an experiment for one day to be without your phone and computer. Can you do it?
“Human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage and kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives…To live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory." — Howard Zinn
Carol Bedrosian is the publisher and editor of Spirit of Change Magazine.
Experience meditation with the Brahma Kumaris at the Natural Living Expo in the Experience Meditation Room, November 12-13 in Marlboro, MA.