There are a few peers who have recently accused me of being “power hungry” and when asked what they consider to be “power hungry” I’m left more baffled than illuminated by the very strange qualification of being “power hungry.”

Given independent thought, I believe the concern of these peers is my propensity to do what I believe is right for our community without asking permission from established “authority loci.” There are rumblings that my education programs didn’t go through the proper channels, that I’m ungrateful for trainings received, and I’m only interested in self-promotion with no regard to prior collaborations.

If on the mark, this is their definition of “power hungry.”

I’ll give these peers a simple validation that everyone is entitled to speak their mind openly and interpret their world independently. I’ll also levy my own independent and open interpretation.

They’re wrong. There is a HUGE difference between wanting “power” and seeking “influence.”

For me, wanting “power” entails craving control over others with no accountability or recourse. That’s stupid.

For me, seeking “influence” is a desire to have the authority necessary to speak to peer issues, concerns, and needs, and to have my voice respected and validated.

With “influence,” exacting crucial change, development, and implementation of programs that directly affect peers and their families is the goal. Through “influence,” I am afforded the opportunity to have intimate conversations with providers, policy makers, legislators, and all those who dedicate their lives to making my life and the lives of my friends better.

“Influence” is so much different than “power.” Stated simply:

Influence is collaborative. Power is not.

Perhaps my personality and character is perceived as hubris and unwarranted egotism. I’ve been told this with enough regularity through my entire life that I’m okay throwing this out there as a potential source for the misconception that I’m “power hungry.” I assure you that is not the case.

The truth is I’ve got some charm and intellect, and these have been very useful in gathering influence in our community. With this is an inherent quality for “name recognition” and “branding” coupled with a transparent, consistent message. So why is it I’m seeking “influence” in our community? Again, stated simply:

I really want peers to feel empowered to live their life joyfully and successfully.

My friend Taren has often described me as being a “battering ram advocate,” and I accept her assessment with pride and honor. As she’s told me, someone needs to knock down the traditional impeding walls and locked doors that keep peers from having their own influence. And she’s also told me this will make “enemies” of lots of folks, peers included.

And she’s right. I’ve got some peers accusing me of being “power hungry.” It’s rattling hearing this from other peers and it means I’m doing a good job branding my name, public profile, and steadfast message… and this is so useful in nurturing the influence I desire.

I seek influence. That’s it. Nothing more.