Look at that word. It’s like you tried to spell “co-creation” but your own malicious intent betrayed you on the way to your fingertips.
Say it out loud. It’s got that ugly, brakes-on sound built into it: “Errrrch,” a squealing to a halt.
Imagine that long, pointy finger of the type-cast villain, beckoning you with a tell-tale tendril of evil fog, attempting to seduce, hoping you won’t notice, promising you a reward when all that follows is truly only your own destruction.
It’s the tool of the powerful to assert their will. When giving an order doesn’t work (because you’re not listening), they’re resorting to corrupt, dishonourable means of persuasion, manipulation and trickery.
What happens if it doesn’t work? Beware: the only pathway left for them is violence. They will enforce their desires. Power knows the Right Answer, and is intent making it happen.
It got here because power was, at one point, not powerful at all. Power was merely prowess. Realizing it was brilliant, it sniffed out opportunity, and became power. Hungry ambition smelled a chance to show off its prodigious talent. Like a preening Sherlock, a sly Slytherin, a diagnosing Dr. House, this raw genius sought the answers. And upon discovering them, it latched onto them with a tight, locked jaw. With knowledge, comes power, it thought, and clung to it fiercely.
But not all of us watching this game were grateful. Some of us hung back, watching these antics unfold: the deductions didn’t impress, nor did that grasping gamesmanship for a dictator’s grip on the throne. We were left wanting. Our exclusion became our own sense of hungry desire. We banded together. We were the 99%. We chanted in the streets: The people, united, will never be defeated. We were the resistance. And those in power don’t yet recognize it, we’re not done yet. We will go to our graves before we allow you to continue to eradicate our rights, and keep us oppressed. We do not have power. But we know the answer: give it to us. We know what to do with it.
Have we not worked hard to get here?
Do we not know what it feels like to be on the underside of Power, and are equipped to led wisely?
After all, this this win was righteous. We are For The People.
We may not even wish to release our grips.
We may wish to hold on tighter.
And yet, we look around, and see that the only Answers we’ve seen modelled are the ones we don’t want.
We’ve seen people Holding Power, and Knowing the Answer: A power-hungry 1% dominate the landscape and issue orders that leave us out in the cold. Their coercion persuades us to comply with them without our true consent. Force and might and violence and enforcement and imprisonment and death are the final answer to dissent.
We’ve seen Holding Power, and Seeking the Answer: The ladder-climbing genius arrives at a conclusion through their intelligence and strength and cunning, and becomes entrenched as the permanent leader.
We’ve seen Sharing the Power, and Knowing the Answer: The rebelling public launch a successful protest, but lack the tools to generate a new way of being that resists the above stereotypes. Those stereotypes have the potential to become us.
Is there another way?
Is there a way to Share the Power, and Seek the Answer?
When we say Share the Power, can it be that the people and their leaders can find a way to not see each other as enemies?
When we say Seek the Answer, would it be possible to stay open enough to imagine there might be new ways of organizing, new ways of being, that nobody has thought of yet?
If so, we may have to dream together of the future we want. We may have to listen. It may be true that we have never before actually heard the voices of all participants in the system. Perhaps we have never emptied all our playing pieces onto the same table to see what can be constructed, together.
We’ve seen leaders lead from the top.
We’ve seen resistance rise up from below.
We’ve seen rogue agents act in their own interests.
But have we ever seen a middle way, where each of us collaborate together on the creation of a new way?
We are unaccustomed to these ways.
Our parliaments and city halls are not designed to facilitate co-creative sessions between leadership and citizens.
Our courts are not designed to facilitate constructive dialogue between enemies.
Our schools are only starting to be designed around project-based learning to create net-new outcomes.
Our world is steeped in Old Stories, and very few stories have emerged that show us what it might look like to work together, across traditional divides, between leadership and people, between righteous and unrighteous, enemy and ally.
In today’s economy, we either “lead, follow or get out of the way.”
In tomorrow’s world, we become familiar with working together to generate an abundant, shared, future.
Beyond holding power, beyond having the right answer, is an always-on sense of seeking new perspectives, and of doing it in community.