THE POWER MATRIX
And the Foundation of all Your Skills
Are you in charge of you? Do you have the power to take charge of your innate powers and of your choices as you move through life? Human beings need power—the power to take control of themselves. The term power literally, and simply, means “the ability to do” something. The word power speaks about both the resources and the ability which is require to do things— to take effective action in the world. So if power literally means, “to do,” then there’s nothing inherently negative about the idea of power even though many have connected negative beliefs to power.
Further and most delightfully, you like every other person in the world, come with four innate powers—four responses that you and only you can make. Did you know that? One of the challenges in communicating this is that what follows will sound so simple, so obvious, and so non-consequential, that you will be tempted to dismiss it. Are you ready? The four innate powers that you have are the powers to think, to feel, to speak, and to act. Simple, right?
Yes on the surface, yet there’s a depth to this fact that eludes most people. The depth? These four innate powers establish the foundation for all of your skills, and for that matter, all of the skills that are available on Planet Earth. These four powers describe how you are able to turn a talent into an actual competency. There is not a skill in this world that is not made out of the stuff of these four powers. Both the simplest skills that you can learn in a matter of minutes and the most advanced skills that take decades to develop are comprised of these four innate responses. Isn’t that amazing? Given that, what new skills are you planning to develop this year?
Further, each one of these responses is a rich and complex response. Your mental responses or powers range from representing ideas, framing, believing, understanding, deciding, identifying, imaging, remembering and that’s a short list. Your emotional powers are just as extensive and speak about your ability to translate thought into somatic experiences— otherwise known as emotions. These are your two private or internal responses– powers that are yours and that no one can take from you. They are yours; you generate them.
Your verbal responses or powers are not just that you can speak, but that you can use words in dozens and dozens of ways to achieve a wide range of outcomes. You can assert, you can ask, you can bless, curse, use words to sell, negotiate, connect, disconnect, hypothesize, etc. Your action responses or powers refer to all of the things that you can physically do as you move, act, gesture, etc. to make real your ideas and outcomes.
Given that each person has these four powers and that is it theirs to develop and to use—and that nobody can take these from you—how could any human act like a victim? How could any person feel powerless, out-of-control, controlled, irresponsible, passive, etc.? The answer is paradoxical. At some level the person has given his powers away by powerfully thinking and emoting and speaking and acting in ways to deny his powers. Every “victim” has exercised his power to give away his power to some trigger. Sometimes being a victim is a very powerful response.
Another reason is that the person probably has failed to recognize and own his powers. That’s why on Day One of APG, the very first pattern that we do is the Power Zone Pattern which is designed to enable a person to begin to recognize her powers and to own them. We first meta-state our everyday states with awareness of the powers. Then we meta-state ownership of that state. And then we often meta-state fallibility to that ownership-of-power state because, contrary to the title of Robin’s book, Unlimited Power, we humans do not have unlimited power. All of our powers are limited, they are fallible, that is, they are “liable to error.”
When it comes to power, Martin Seligman mapped out a critical distinction many years ago in his studies of learned pessimism and learned optimism. He and his research assistants discovered that they could get all sorts of animals, from frogs to dogs, to learn to be a victim— to learn as it were, “I’m the problem, there’s no hope of change, and it will last forever.” They set up experimental situation where the thing learned was that “nothing I can do” can make any difference. The pain, the distress, the undesirable environment will not alter no matter what I do. Once learned, then the animal would just lie down and take it.
Later the research team learned that they could change things for these animals. By dragging the dog off of the electrified grid, the dog could learn “optimism,” that is, “there is something that can change things.” “I can change things.” “I am not a victim.” And what’s even more fascinating is that once the animals had “learned optimism,” they could not be re-taught “learned pessimism.”
This means that once a person learns awareness of her innate powers and that she can always do something, then she makes a meta-level learning. “I am not a victim anymore than I believe I am.” “No one can make me feel anything, whatever I feel is what I generate through my thinking, believing, expecting, etc.”
The Power Matrix also contains all your beliefs (meanings) about what you can and cannot do. Within it are your intentions— what you’re trying to achieve as you take action to do the things you do. Within this matrix also are many other key experiences: self-confidence, self-efficacy, ego-strength, proactivity (taking the initiative), etc.
You are a doer—there’s something within all of us that keeps urging us to be creativity engaged in things— wanting to do our best, wanting to make a difference. This aspect of the self-actualization drive generates our general restlessness and sometimes initiates our dissatisfaction with the way things are. What do you want to achieve? How many things do you want to achieve? How well do you tap into your response-able powers and take the initiative? These questions all relate to the power matrix.