This is True Power

I’m not a huge fan of morning messages, but I received one the other day that really resonated with me. It said that nothing in the world is made for itself: The ocean cannot drink its own water, the tree never eats its own fruit, the flower isn't fragrant for itself, and the bees don’t eat their own honey. You know know why? Because to live for others is the essence of life itself.

Of course, we should take care of ourselves first, because an empty well cannot quench anyone’s thirst. In a world where everyone thinks of only their own benefit, it would be foolish not to think of yourself. But unfortunately our wants are often confused with what we need, so we are never satisfied with what we have. Power in today’s world is equated with money, talent or clout. But to hold on to these gifts as if they are yours alone does not make you powerful. The true meaning of power is when you use that money, talent or clout to empower others. 

My best friend Abhiroopa is really one of the most talented graphic designers in the country. She has set up two businesses and is known for her creativity and professionalism in the industry. A few years back I put her in touch with people at Stop Acid Attacks. They wanted a new logo designed and I asked Abs if she would do it. Not only did she design the new new logo free of cost, she carried out multiple rounds of changes to make it exactly the way they wanted without any complaints. The amazing part is that she never met Lakshmi, the founder of the NGO to take credit for her work, and she didn’t even post about it on Facebook. 

One of my favourite editors is Nishat Fatima. Initially when I joined Harper’s Bazaar her perfectionism drove me up the wall. There were nights when I cried myself to sleep because nothing I did was good enough. Nishat is known for being very exacting as far as work is concerned but I have never met any woman who is as secure as she is. Nishat genuinely feels happy when someone does well, truly appreciates a task well done, and will applaud and encourage you to do better for yourself. She loves pushing her team into the spotlight instead of keeping it just for herself. This is another way you can share your power - by being happy for others and encouraging them to do better.

Mala Sekhri, who was the publisher of magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar could be a terror. When she was upset the entire floor knew it because her voice reverberated along the corridors while we cowered underneath our desks. But you know what? We knew Mala had our back. She was like the mother hen who would never let us down. When she left the group even her worst critics missed and praised her. There was an energy that she brought with her, a security she gave to her staff that could not be duplicated by anyone else.

My father calls my mother ‘The General’. She is by far the smartest, most intuitive woman I have ever known. If you smoke weed and go in front of her she will ask “What have you smoked?” with a smile and a wink. In the old days she could have been a witch because she knows exactly what’s going on in the basement when she’s sitting in her bedroom on another floor. She has power and she knows how to wield it. But most often she’s bossing everyone around for their own good. Because she knows exactly what’s going on she makes herself sick with worry, only because she cares.

The point that I’m trying to make that power is nothing if we hold it just for ourselves. And it doubles in force when we use it to help or encourage others. Everything in this world is interconnected. You may have heard of the butterfly effect when a small, seemingly unimportant change can eventually lead to large differences somewhere else. You don’t even need to start a revolution - sometimes its just a smile, a word of encouragement or a sense of security that makes all the difference.   

And if you can’t use your power to help others, at least don’t use it to hurt them.