A while ago I was at a client’s premises and found myself locked in.

I’d finished my training a little later than their usual work day’s end, and then took my time packing up my things.  By the time I went to leave, the building was deserted.

I had a visitor’s swipe card but it wouldn’t unlock the door to exit the building. There was no press to exit button, just an emergency break-the-glass type deal.

Yeah, nah.

<img src="power.jpg" alt=how kiwis answer questions yeah nah"/>

How’s your power?

A cleaner had been in the training room a few minutes earlier, so I went to find him.

Can you let me out? I asked. The door’s locked.

He looked around, alarmed, shrugged, and pointed down the other end of the building.

I walked in that direction and found another cleaner – a woman, his wife, I later concluded – in the kitchen.

When I asked her to let me out, she gave me a flat-out No.

<img src="no response.jpg" alt=sorry I can't I have to walk my unicorn"/>

Eventually, I found a lone staff member in one of the offices, and he let me out.

I was pretty amused and dumbfounded, and then as I drove back to my hotel it dawned on me:

I live in a world where I am free to choose.

The power of choice

I am free to choose EVERYTHING.

Whether I work or don’t work. Whether I eat or don’t eat. Whether I sleep or don’t sleep. Who I talk to. What work to accept and decline. What terms I’m willing to work under.

I am free to choose. Every minute of every day.

That is a level of privilege I take for granted.

<img src="power and privileges.jpg" alt=when we pause to contemplate, all of our problems are simply our privileges in disguise"/>

The limitations of power

That husband and wife, those cleaners working in the evening, did not feel that they had any right to make a decision to give me access OUT of the building.

They had access cards, to be used for their job, and nothing else.

Their world is such that they didn’t feel able to use their own judgement to make what seemed like such a straightforward decision.

I thought about what must be on the line for them – the fear of losing their job, I assume – their ability to provide for their family.

<img src="power and fear.jpg" alt= the less you fear, the more power you will have and the more fully you will live"/>

What’s on the line for me when I make my choices?

Usually not much more than whether someone is happy with me or not.

And when I think about it that clearly, there are very few people whose opinions I give a fuck about.

I committed that day to two things:

1. Be braver.

I am privileged to have very little at risk.

2. Be more aware of my privilege.

It’s power, and I need to use it, with joy, and badassery!

________________________

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<img src="power keynote Shelly Davies.jpg" alt=know yourself, love yourself, have power, find joy, rockstar keynote"/>