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The Power Path
The Shaman's Way to Success in Business and Life
By Jose Stevens, Lena Stevens, Michael Ashby, Marc Allen
New World LibraryCopyright © 2002 José Luis Stevens, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
WHAT POWER IS
Probably the central concept of shamanism, wherever in this world it is found, is the idea of power. Simply stated, this is the notion that underlying all the visible forms in the world, animate and inanimate, there exists a vital essence from which these forms emerge and by which they are nurtured. Ultimately everything returns to this ineffable, mysterious, impersonal unknown.
— Douglas Sharon, Wizard of the Four Winds: A Shaman's Story
Whether you like it or not, the game of life here on the planet is all about power: striving for it, achieving it, holding on to it, manipulating it, giving it away, giving it up, losing it, stealing it, fearing it, lusting for it, trading it, investing in it, searching for it, learning about it, and mastering it. If you say you are not interested in power, that you are above or beyond it, that you think it is overrated, that you believe it is the root of all evils, or that the world would be a better place without such emphasis on it, then you are fooling yourself dramatically.
On the other hand, if your life is consumed with lust for power, drawn by its magnetism to accumulate and manipulate it, then paradoxically, chances are that this ambition actually stems from a foundation of feeling rather powerless. Either way — if you devalue its importance or make it into some kind of god — you are failing to appreciate and understand the true nature of power. It is critical that you learn its secrets if you hope to ever wield it effectively.
The great irony is that, although life is a game of power, few people actually know very much about its underlying nature. Certainly most people do not know the rules of power because, if they did, they would manifest their knowledge of power and be completely comfortable with all facets of it. There would be less obsession and dysfunctional ambition on the one hand and less sense of feeling powerless in life on the other.
If power is so fundamental to life, then how has this lack of knowledge come to be? We can simply say that part of what makes the game of life so interesting is that such things as the rules of power tend to remain hidden right under our noses. Long ago shamans figured out that the game is to discover these rules and put the knowledge to use for the benefit of themselves and others. This knowledge is available to each of us, and it can bring us success in business and in all areas of our lives.
Without this shamanic insight into the nature of reality, we often don't even realize that anything is hidden, and we mistake the superficial for reality. We don't see reality, and so we accept pale and weak substitutes for it instead. These substitutes are like beautiful flowers made from plastic, silk, or paper: colorful but without life and scent. The business world has many examples of this. An organization may have the most beautiful offices with all the latest expensive furniture, computers, and technology, but if communication problems, depression, and a lack of enthusiasm and direction exist among the staff, then this organization is not a success. An inattentive outsider may notice only a glittering but false power without seeing any of the powerlessness and weakness beneath.
The game that shamans discovered is first to realize that the real goods are hidden right in front of us and then to go about finding them. You will find the hidden power in the real resources of a troubled company — its people, their potential, and their philosophies and attitudes.
AN EXAMINATION OF POWER
What is this power that is necessary to win in the game of life and in the game of business? What is the power that allows you to walk the power path? We need to first come up with a working definition of power. The dictionary states that the word power comes from the Latin potere, meaning "to be able." That is a good start in our definition: To succeed in anything in life, you must first be able. That is why power is the key ingredient in the grand game. To be able implies that we are able to learn something, that we are capable; it does not necessarily imply that we already know how to do something, so it refers to potential, to capacity.
Power then is potential.
That fits our shamanic understanding of power. Successful businesses will often attribute their performance to the fact that they recognized the potential in something — a product, an employee, a direction, or an opportunity. You could say that recognizing the power in something is then recognizing its potential — its ability, or its gifts.
The dictionary also refers to power as "strength, might, force, control, ascendancy, legal ability, influence, force, and momentum." This sounds like a good definition, but it can be very misleading, implying that strength, force, or control will make a business successful. However, we have seen over and over that this is not necessarily the case. Vietnam, for example, was a wake-up call, teaching Americans that winning a war takes more than overwhelming military strength. Another common perception is that if you just exert more force you will be more successful; however, once again this strategy has proven to fail. Business language is filled with adages inviting us to use brute force to achieve our objectives: "Destroy the competition," "Divide and conquer," "Beat the odds," and "Battle to the top" are but a few examples.
Many martial arts demonstrate that the more force and momentum used by an attacker, the greater the attacker's fall and defeat. Reflect on your own observations. You can see that more willpower, enthusiasm, and hard work do not necessarily translate to being more powerful. Obviously none of these things guarantees winning. Perhaps the emphasis on brute force has been a disservice and we have failed, and continue to fail, to notice something more important about power that is hidden right in front of us.
We all become culturally imprinted about what power is supposed to look like in the context of the times and society we live in. Its visible forms are clear to everyone living in a particular society. In modern times the symbols of power include everything from badges, diplomas, and testimonials to expensive suits, limousines, and private jets. We see these marks of power and automatically think in terms of hierarchy, top to bottom, winners and losers, and we assume the bearers of these symbols are highly successful.
Bear in mind, however, that in today's world most of these badges of power can be purchased for a price. Most forms of modern power are tied to money, and money is seen as powerful. No one can argue that point, nor are we objecting to it.
Certainly money is a most powerful external ingredient in getting things done in the business world, and yet we have seen corporations with almost unlimited resources founder because of poor decision making, and we have seen backyard garage-based businesses that function on a shoestring grow into megacorporations. So obviously money is not a guarantee of power in the modern world. How money is used is what counts, and its skillful use is based on a power that is not so obvious.
Power in a shamanic sense and from our experience is not primarily about force, physical strength, momentum, control, might, or money. The primary term shamans include in their definition of power is the word energy — the capacity for vigorous activity, the ability to act with potency. So power to a shaman means available energy, vigor, capacity, and the potential to serve, influence, and make a difference according to will and intent; it also means to enter into deeper levels of awareness to access knowledge, peer into the future, perceive secrets, remove obstacles, and enter the dynamic flow where effort ceases and nature takes over. Perhaps, this kind of power is valuable for business and organizational leaders as well.
Shamans spend their entire lives learning, discovering, and walking the path of power, exercising and developing their ability to manifest power in a way that brings the best results and the minimum of negative consequences. They are thus the world's foremost experts in the ways of power and in walking the challenging and fascinating trail that leads them to become what they call a man or woman of knowledge. This trail leads them to discover that the greatest of powers are those that are not on everyday display, not manifested outwardly for all the world to see, and definitely not advertised.
To understand the power that is not so obvious, let us first take a look at the fundamental rules of power according to shamanic understanding. These rules are implicit in the shamanic world, having been preserved in oral traditions and never recorded in an official shamanic text or manual. Certainly you can find allusions to them in the writings of various popular authors such as Deepak Chopra, Miguel Ruiz, and Carlos Castaneda. You will not, however, find the fundamentals of shamanic power laid out all in one place as they are here.
Yet, if you were to travel the world and question wise elders and shamans from Siberia, central Australia, the Amazon, the Himalayas, the plains of North America, the vast reaches of Africa, the tropical islands of the South Pacific, the humid climes of Southeast Asia, the far northern tundra, or anywhere for that matter, you will find for the most part an implicit agreement about these ten rules of power that you are about to learn in the next chapter. This is striking when you consider that these community leaders have had no contact with one another, no cell phones, no e-mail, no universities, no international networks of any visible kind. Their only point of contact is the dreamtime, the spirit world, the invisible reality — and they have never had to worry about a computer virus or sunspot activity shutting down that system. Our motivation in bringing this information to you by translating it into modern business terminology is to provide you the same wisdom, insights, and tools that have been available to these indigenous communities for centuries. When you apply these tools to business, you become better at the game, but it won't turn you into a shaman. That takes years of specific training within a unique tradition.
Important Concepts to Remember
Life on earth is all about power.
The rules governing power remain somewhat hidden.
Shamans know the rules and apply them with great success.
The word shaman means to see or one who sees.
To have power means to be able, to have potential, to have the vigor or energy to do.
To have power then means to be able to see potential wherever it lies, within oneself, in a situation, or in other people.CHAPTER 2
THE BASIC SHAMANIC RULES OF POWER
I know that every time in my life that I've run across simple rules giving rise to emergent, complex messiness, I've just said, "Ah, isn't that lovely!" And I think sometimes, when other people run across them, they recoil.
— Brian Arthur, Citibank professor in economics, [Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos
Each system has its own rule, its own way of relating to the cosmos. Each rule provides the logic — the building blocks of knowledge — that maps out the specific tradition.... By following a well-drawn map, you get where you want to go ... accordingly, the rule offers guidance for participating with Spirit.
— Ken Eagle Feather, A Toltec Path
There is a set of core rules of power that has been understood and practiced with discipline by people using techniques of shamanism throughout history and in all the cultures of the world. You will find that some of the rules are very simple and some are quite complex when you explore their implications. Some of the rules contain a number of sub-rules. We will discuss all the rules and their aspects at length throughout the body of this book. These rules are listed in no special order, and each stands on its own, complete unto itself.
All objects in the universe are following
the path of power.
A. Everything in the universe manifests the amount of power it has gained thus far.
B. More powerful objects make it possible for objects with less power to become more powerful.
If you consider the natural environment, you will notice that this is true. For example, a tree can only manifest the amount of power it has collected and gained in its life with the help of more powerful objects such as the sun, the nutritional system in the earth, and the element of water.
If you consider human-made environments, you'll see this rule still holds true. For example, at any given moment a business will manifest only the amount of power it has gained up to that time with the help of larger systems of knowledge, information, support, and resources.
Power stems from four primary sources:
(1) inspiration; (2) simplicity;
(3) exchange; and (4) conception.
A business's path of power stems from the same four sources. The inspiration, spirit, and enthusiasm generated around the conception and birth of a project, business, or idea can play a big role in its ultimate success. Likewise, simplicity and singularity of focus are exceptionally important for the success of any business. To maintain its path of power, a business must create clear avenues of exchange between its departments and with systems that lie outside the organization.
Power in itself is neutral.
It is neither good nor bad.
It just is. How you manage it
determines the positive or negative consequences
for you and others.
The management of power is similar to the management of time. In a business environment with deadlines and multiple tasks, you must identify what undermines and depletes your power as well as what management practices and attitudes increase your abilities and performance.
The path of power is expensive:
There is always a price to pay for real power.
You may bid for power at any time, but you will be tested to see if you are ready and deserving. Being on the path of power includes being on the path of truth, love, integrity, and service. The price of power is related in part to giving up the limitations of the personality, habits of fear, inadequacy, blame, and judgment. Bidding for power when you are not ready is extremely costly; not bidding for power when you are ready is a lost opportunity.
Power can be manifested only when you focus
your attention and intention in the present.
This truth is critical to stalking power. Power is a product of intention. It is only available to you in full when you put your attention in the here and now. You will notice that you can only influence an outcome by what you do in the present. Therefore, if you focus your full attention in the present, much more power will go into your intention.
What keeps an individual or business from being able to focus 100 percent in the present is the non-acceptance of or resistance to the present by having, for example, unrealistic expectations or worry over past failures. A most valuable lesson we learned from our indigenous friends was the need to be fully accepting of whatever is, without judgment. Only then can you focus fully on the present and from that point make changes through your intentions.
Power can be hunted and gained in ways similar to
the rules of the hunt in the natural environment.
In order to walk the path of power in business, you must learn to stalk power — to observe it, understand it, know its habits, and then pounce on it with perfect timing. This requires preparation, patience, readiness, and the ability to act with lightning speed and precision at the most opportune moment. There can be no obsessing, second-guessing, worry, or expectations, or the hunt will be unsuccessful.
Power must be ridden as a surfer rides a wave:
balance is everything on the power path.
The ability to manage, understand, and hold power is determined in part by how flexible an individual or business is willing and able to be. Ups and downs, productive and nonproductive times, expansion and contraction are just a few of the aspects that require balance to stay on the path of power and not be thrown off it.
All power manifests through four aspects:
breath, light, sound, and intent;
these aspects form the basis of communication.
Communication is a crucial component of any successful business or community. Communication is much more than just the words you speak; it has to do with your attitude, feelings, thoughts, actions, and ultimately the essence of who you are. A more powerful and shamanic basis of communication is necessary to fuel your intentions.
Excerpted from The Power Path by Jose Stevens, Lena Stevens, Michael Ashby, Marc Allen. Copyright © 2002 José Luis Stevens, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
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