What is your definition of power? How does that relate to your career?
Tamara: Power is the measure of how little effort it takes for a person to make something happen. That influences how I examine the greater economic picture. I can’t say it’s helped my job situation directly, but it helps me when I step back and analyze how organizations work (or should work).
Serdar: Poet Gregory Corso once wrote a poem called “Power” which had lines that went like this: “What is Power / A hat is Power / The world is Power / Being afraid is Power / … Standing on a streetcorner waiting for no one is Power”. Meaning, I suppose, that anything can constitute a form of power in the right context.
We tend to think of power in the form of “power over others”, but what it really comes down to is “power over ourselves” — autonomy, meaning freedom.
When I started writing seriously — that is, writing to be published — I was already somewhat aware of how a writer did not have total autonomy over his work. It had to be edited, marketed by a publisher, and so on. I had the wrong idea about these things, and felt they were obtrusive. I wanted
freedom more than I did simply having an audience.
By the time I was mature enough to write something that wasn’t complete junk, two things had happened. One was the rise of self-publishing, which made it possible to have that autonomy and freedom but at the expense of the promotion, editing and management apparatus which conventional publishing has made into an industry. The other was a change in my understanding about power over one’s work. It means that much less to have total control over something which almost no one sees.
I’d still like to have complete control, but I’m that much more prescient about what such control will cost me in other realms. My next mission is to learn how to cede the kinds of control and power I don’t find as crucial so that I can gain other kinds of control and power that are more crucial.
Scott: Control. The ability to set up some aspects of work and the work environment. Not everything is within an employee’s control, but sometimes the little things count for a lot more. The ability to set one’s hours, to take breaks as needed instead of having them scheduled, even what to wear. Micromanagement is a symptom of an employer not wanting to give up control to the employee; too much latitude, though winds up in a scattered crew with no direction.