How to understand power

Ken was trying to open the cap of a bottle. But when he was not able to do so, he took the help of his Uncle. Mr Tom said to Ken to grow up fast and become powerful.

After somedays Ken saw that few grownup children were bullying a kid . He was stopping them but no one paid heed to him . Then an old lady passing by scolded the boys for teasing a small kid. The lady said to Ken that if he wanted to help people he needs to get powerful.

Ken was intrigued with this word ‘powerful’ and asked his mom about it. Mrs Johnson replied to Ken that if he wants to know what means to be powerful he need to first understand what is POWER.



The word POWER has got different meanings associated with it for different people. For some power means dominance and for some others power is knowledge. According to speaker Eric Liu power is  the ability to make others do what you would have them do- when he talks about power in civic domain.


Accordingly it is believed that civic power comes from six main sources.

1. Physical force- The police has all power to enforce law using physical force.

2. Wealth- We all know that with money comes  the ability to create any other power and buy desirable results.

3.State action- In a democracy , individuals like us elect the lawmakers who exercise their power by making laws.

4.Social norms- Our communities shape our ideology regarding what we think is acceptable and what’s not .

5. Ideas- If an individual gets others agree to his/her idea it can actually motivate a lot of people to change their thinking on social issues.

6. Numbers- Great ideas gain  power through the number of people support them.


1) Power is never static: we all have witnessed that with time power either increases or decreases.  Change in the members of the governing bodies is one such example.

2) Power is like water- it flows from one hand to another through so many domains of life everyday. From politics to policy makers ,  executive to the implementers all represent the flow of power.

3)Power compounds  Its a very famous saying ‘Power begets power’. Regardless if one can channalise the proper flow of power then this law will create no problem.


There are three things we must do: speak up, organize our ideas, and organize others around us. We need to identify the changes we want to see in our surroundings and the powers behind them . After knowing all this we can decide which form of power we need to take help of in order to bring the desired change.

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