Acting with Power: Why We Are More Powerful Than We Believe
There is so much we get wrong about power. This eye-opening look at the true nature of power explores who has it, what it looks like, and the role it plays in our lives.
“A refreshing and enlightening new perspective on what it means to be powerful.”—Susan Cain, bestselling author of Quiet
Grounded in over two decades’ worth of scientific research and inspired by the popular class of the same name at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Acting with Power offers a new and eye-opening paradigm that overturns everything we thought we knew about the nature of power.
Although we all feel powerless sometimes, we have more power than we tend to believe. That’s because power exists in every relationship, by virtue of the roles we play in others’ lives. But it isn’t a function of status or hierarchy. Rather, it’s about how much we are needed, and the degree to which we fulfill our responsibilities. Power isn’t a tool for self-enhancement or a resource for personal consumption. It’s a part you play in someone else’s story.
We often assume that power flows to those with the loudest voice or the most commanding presence in the room. But, in fact, true power is often much quieter and more deferential than we realize. Moreover, it’s not just how much power we have but how we use it that determines how powerful we actually are.
Actors aren’t the only ones who play roles for a living. Like actors, we all make choices about how to use the power that comes with our given circumstances. We aren’t always cast in the roles we desire—or the ones we feel prepared to play. Some of us struggle to step up and be taken more seriously, while others have trouble standing back and ceding the spotlight. Some of us are used to hearing we are too aggressive, while others are constantly being told we are too nice. Deborah Gruenfeld shows how we can all get more comfortable with power by adopting an actor’s mindset.
We all know what it looks like to use power badly. This book is about how to use power well.