I believe that the single greatest inhibitor to transformative community change is the underlying assumption that power is finite and that in any one community setting, some people will win and some will lose. Yes. Positional power is finite. And, yes, civil society needs forms of positional power to function efficiently and effectively. But, personal power is infinite and can be recognized and shared on a consistent basis at every corner of specific community systems. A culture of sharing power offers the kind of collective ground needed to support community members in offering their best gifts and achieving their highest potential. The practice of sharing personal power also helps ensure that positional power is merely a practical instrument and not the dominate frame.
I understand that asking diverse residents “to share power” seems big and perhaps overly optimistic. So, instead, think of it as a call for you and others to start on a new journey and to carry two items with you at all times on this journey. The first item you must carry and use on this journey is a backpack and in this backpack is your unique kernel of power. We all are born with unique qualities to contribute in relationship to others. Any time you meet with a fellow community member or hold a small team meeting, make sure you have your backpack with you. Even if you do not fully know or understand your unique kernel of power, remember that you do have one and it is available to you.
The second item to always carry and use is an empty treasure chest. The purpose of this chest is to remind you that you are on a treasure hunt and the treasures you are hunting for are the kernels of power held by your fellow community members. Again, when you sit with someone for a cup of coffee or hold a small meeting to talk about a particular community issue or initiative, bring your chest with you and actively seek out the treasures that others have to offer you.
Over time, if you repeatedly focus on your personal power while also exploring the personal power of others, you will begin to find new resources and new solutions that you did not think possible. If this practice is repeated over and over again in multiple community meetings, and among multiple community members, you will begin to see the unfolding of a new and transformed community eco-system.