When you hear the word power, what comes to mind? For most of us, we imagine power-hungry leaders or think of phrases like power corrupts. But when my guest, Eric Liu, considers power, he sees something different. He views power as a positive force. In fact, he believes it is a gift each of us can use to shape society.
At a time when many of us feel powerless, Eric offers a simple set of instructions for seizing power and using it to help shape our communities, our nation, and the world. He is Founder and CEO of the non-profit, Citizen University and author of the book, You’re More Powerful than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen. His TED Talk on citizen power and voting has been viewed over 2 million times.
In this interview we discuss:
- How power is an important literacy
- Why power is about who gets to decide
- How power is a gift we are continuously giving away
- How our citizenship endows us with unearned power and privilege that we should share with intention
- Why we need to ask ourselves, to whom am I giving my power, my might, and my imagination?
- The myth of rugged individualism in the face of game-changing collective action and collaboration we have seen across history
- How we are part of a collective web of relationship, obligation, and mutual aid
- The fact that power compounds as people with voice and connections amass it
- The fact that power justifies itself as incumbents spin narratives to maintain it
- The realization that many rely on intimidation and self-justifying narratives to maintain their power
- How power is infinite as demonstrated by movements to push back and reinforce pockets of power
- How we can reframe power by changing the game, the story, and the equation
- The fact that we are all better off when we are all better off
- The power of story in organizing for change — the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now
- How a civic collaboratory taps into the shared need and wisdom of organizations to amplify their impact
- How we are strong in our ideals of citizenship but weak in practicing them
- Why citizenship is about power plus character – working on behalf of a greater good
- How we accuse others in order to excuse ourselves
- How taking responsibility sets in motion a cycle of responsibility that is contagious
Links to Topics Mentioned in this Podcast