When Dallas Startup Week asked me to be on their first ever Influencer Council, my initial reaction was– “Who, me?” Some days I feel so lost on this crazy journey and like the last thing I should be doing is influencing anyone else. Yesterday was one such day.
It seemed like the universe’s missive was to put me back in my place. I tried to speak up and call for help, but was answered with shame and guilt. I felt powerless.
The old me would cower in bed ruthlessly analyzing everything I did wrong, but today’s me has things to do and a business to build. In this new phase of entrepreneur life, everything is a lesson. Instead of mourning the respect lost for people I once considered role models, I asked myself – what will I vow to do differently when it’s my time to lead? (And do I even want to?)
The theme that kept resurfacing was the fine line between Power and Leadership. I saw a frightening display of power exercised by people yesterday, but it did not necessarily make me want to follow them. Nevertheless, they could still teach me something.
So, I reflected:
Power says, “This is what I can do.”
Leadership asks, “What should I do?”
Power has all the answers.
Leadership asks the hard questions.
Power has the right.
Leadership does the right thing.
Power demands loyalty.
Leadership reciprocates it.
Power is a weapon.
Leadership is how you wield it.
Power is a force- a tidal wave.
Leadership is the first ripple whose reach can’t be measured.
This exercise showed me that what I want/need isn’t traditional power. And as an introverted Woman of Color in a male-dominated world that perceives loudness as strength, it’s quite likely I’ll never have it. But, at the end of the day, it’s not enough to have said power if it’s hoarded or used to harm. I’ll settle for truth, compassion, and humility. My conscience will lead me.