Knowledge is **NOT** Power! LO12165

Eric Opp (
Fri, 24 Jan 1997 10:17:16 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO12128 --

On Wed, 22 Jan 1997, GSCHERL wrote:

> Eric, can you explain to me what you mean by Power?

I wanted to respond to both Kevin Murphy and Gary Scherling concerning
information and power. My first question would be when Peter Drucker wrote
the phrase "the application of information is power?" I would strongly
**disagree** with that statement without many qualifiers. The most trivial
and most encountered counter-example is just that "trivia." I know a
woman, who can answer every question in old classic edition of trivial
pursuit, but has no influence in the outside world. How many sports
fanatics do you know, whose heads are full of "information" about sports,
who have no real power. We have more and more "information" at our
disposal, little of which is relevant to the real problems we are trying
to solve, **and** that which is there and is relevant is seldom applied. I
would take the analogy of "lilies" in the "lily pond" system with the
information explosion we have today. The relevant information becomes the
single needle in an ever exploding haystack. If we know every single straw
in the haystack without knowing the needle we are nowhere!

Concerning "Power," we know three kinds of power. The first is the kind
we encounter every day in the form of "bosses." They have legitimized
power. They can tell you to do something. You can choose to do it or to
ignore it. If you choose the latter, they can make your life miserable.
This power is driven primarily by fear. This is also the power outlined in
the first chapter of Chung Tzu's "the Art of War."

The second kind of power is strictly influential. This is a milder form
of legitimized power. This is encapsulated by the sales or leadership
paradigm of "getting the 'troops' to do something they do not want to do
so that they like it." This works until the troops discover that a leader
has stepped across the line in to the zone of "don't do as I do, do as I
say." Then either the unit falls apart or we go back to legitimized power.

The third kind of power is the "Power" that I am really talking about.
The best summary that I ever heard was in the introduction of Anthony
Robbins' book, "Unlimited Power." Power is **not** power over other
people, but the power over yourself to create the results you truly
desire. (I am paraphrasing to the best of my memory). This is the kind of
power you see in a Mother Teresa. She has had the kind of influence in the
world that many politicians, who have legitimized power, could only dream
of. It is also the kind of power you achieve through personal mastery. It
is the kind of power that people will be willing to subject themselves to
because it is not Power by coercion rather Power by discipline and

The end point of my argument is that real Power in the world comes only
through power over yourself, which can only be achieved through a
combination of experience and (relevant!) knowledge - the needle in ever
growing haystack of information. That is the wisdom of which I speak,
which gives you real Power.

An interesting aside I will add is the application to the discussion
(only part of which I followed) of the technology haves and the technology
have nots. There is still an incredible amount of "wisdom" to be found in
the old (dead tree editions as IT savvy people like to refer to them)
books in any good public or university library. It may take a little
longer to find - but what is 30 minutes compared to 30 seconds in the span
of a lifetime. The great thing is that most university libraries do not
require that you be a student to read the books in the library - only to
check them out. The other thing that I have found through my class in
professional salesmanship is that there has been so much written about
"consultative selling" and "the customer comes first" over the past 20 or
30 years that can be found in old books in the library, that all goes
ignored. It does not take information technology to figure out. Just
because it is the latest and greatest does not mean it is the best!

Eric N. Opp


Eric Opp <>

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