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Earn Your Power

The meritocratic principle states that if you want something, and acquire the skills to accomplish it, you will succeed. Meritocracy: –merit from Latin (mereo) means earn, and -cracy from ancient Greek means strength or power. Earn your power.

Its philosophy holds that power should be vested in individuals almost exclusively according to their skills and education, rather than material wealth or status.

This doctrine reminds me of a story. A mayor is riding down the main street in a parade. His wife is seated next to him. While he waves at the different people in the crowd, he spots his wife's ex boyfriend, who owns a local gas station. He snickers to himself and whispers to his wife, "Aren’t you glad you didn’t marry him? You'd be working at a gas station." His wife smiles and whispers back, "No. If I had married him, he would be the mayor."

The story, amusing in its own right, teaches us that not everyone who holds a significant role is necessarily in the role due to his or her professionalism or acumen. According to Fortune Magazine, of the 100 biggest companies in the USA, 80% of their CEO's were selected from within the ranks of the company. But the high turnover rate among them is evidence of an incorrect candidate selection.

Indeed, It is not only skills which crown a candidate as a winning choice; rather, maintaining the position with proven success requires a little more than professional qualities.

I'd like to sum up the remaining factors, which I refer to as the “three wise monkeys." In their original meaning, the three wise monkeys embody the proverbial principle "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" which is great advice for anyone. But, to be a winning candidate positioned for success in the long term, I would recommend:

Speak positively. Be inspiring! Motivate your audience. If you find that your staff or those who surround you fail to align themselves with positive thought, your consistently encouraging talk will influence them to rethink and get on board.

Listen. Learn to listen; you might be surprised from how much you can learn from others.

Look around! See the big picture that hides in the little details. Take note of and examine the consequences of your actions on others. It will educate you to be cautious and sensitive.

Great world leaders have lived and governed by this advice for centuries.

Abraham Lincoln’s ideal was “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” When you rise from the ranks of your people, and lead without pretension, you serve the people faithfully. The best interests of your followers must always stand in front of you as guidance. Abraham Lincoln believed so purposefully in this ideal that he appointed opposition members to key governmental positions since he had so much respect for their skills. Putting aside his ego, he was able to listen to their viewpoints objectively, which ultimately reaffirmed his position as a respected leader.

David Ogilvy said something which further strengthens this approach: "If you always hire people who are smaller than you are, you shall become a company of dwarfs. If, on the other hand, you always hire people who are bigger than you are, you shall become a company of giants."

Know your strengths and your skills, and when you find an idea bigger than you, implement your virtue. Your power will eventually take hold by the respect and appreciation you receive from your community. And respect, as we all know, you do not take. You earn.


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