The problem with a lot of people in the workforce is that they confuse doing things for having power.

Don’t make that mistake. Power has very little to do with effort. In fact, it’s one of those weird circumstances in life that powerful people don’t work very hard. If you’re working on a super-interesting project at the office, it may be all encompassing and critical to your professional growth. But it doesn’t make you powerful. The person who let you in on that project? She’s got the power.

It’s tough to watch the ways in which people try to attain power. They work late. Say yes to tasks and projects. Make big powerpoint presentations like powerpoint is going out of style. I think some of those efforts build character and competency, but the path to power isn’t through more work and proving yourself to your boss: it’s through building relationships.

(Being born with money and power doesn’t hurt. Neither does being a white guy over 40.)

People spend gobs of money on coaching and leadership classes to become more influential and powerful. Let me offer you a quick life hack: be more discerning with your time and energy. Pay attention to how powerful people in your world spend their days. Be a journalist of your life, go undercover, and spy on the most powerful and influential people at your office.

While they might work hard, they’re working smarter than you. That’s how they became powerful.

1 Comment

  1. We also need to learn that there are different types of power and that those types of power are attained or earned in different ways. Speaking about coaching or leadership classes one of the most valuable sessions I’ve attended was about power types, where we learned about these different bases of power and the social psychology behind them.

    See French and Raven’s Bases of Power ( for more.

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