Fred Lehr is the author of the new book Power Currency: How to Grow, Enhance, and Stop Squandering Your Personal Power!. He lives in Severna Park, Maryland.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Power Currency?
A: I identify myself as an incurable behavioral scientist. From my youth I have been an observer of human behavior and wondering why people did what they did--why groups behaved the way they did and why organizations acted as they did. I find all that fascinating and have an insatiable appetite to learn more. And the more I learn the more I find amazing.
Especially I have been drawn to learn about power – personal power, group power, family power, organizational power, etc. I am a Certified Family Life Educator (National Council on Family Relations), an organizational development consultant, a trained mental health therapist, an ordained pastor, and trained in Total Quality Management.
So, a book on power utilization is just a natural outcome.
Q: How would you define “personal power” and do you think most people are squandering it?
A: The definition I use for power is “the ability to get what I want.” Powerful people get things their way. There are two key components to that.
First, how do I get that power? What do I use to be powerful? We call those “power currencies” – thus the title of the book. What are the pennies, nickels, dimes, dollars, tens and millions of power?
Some power currencies have a little power and others have a lot of power. In the book I go into great detail on this; but briefly, there are “short term power currencies” and “long term power currencies.”
By definition, a “short term power currency” is one that doesn’t endure. The more I use it the less likely I will get what I want. It may work for a while, but in the long run it is a waste (squander) of our power. On the other hand with a “long term power currency,” the more I use it the more likely I will get what we want.
The second component to power is determining what I want. What is my self-interest? Similarly, I have a short-term self-interest and long-term self-interest. When people hear “self-interest,” many assume that is being selfish. However, being selfish is a short-term self-interest; it does not build my personal power.
A long-term self-interest is one that endures the test of time. For example, one of my long-term self-interests is to like the person I see in the mirror – my self-esteem. A healthy self-esteem is strong and enduring. No one can take that from me. I can give it away; let others diminish my self-worth. But I have control over that. I have all the power I will ever need when it comes to my self-esteem.
With regard to squandering one’s personal power (or family power or organizational power), I observe that in general, most people do not understand the difference and waste their power on short-term power currencies and short-term self-interests.
In many ways, our culture teaches us to use those short-term currencies. We are taught to think of ourselves first – Why should I? What’s in it for me? What am I going to get out of it? What’s it going to cost me? Me, Me, Me!! And that is terribly shortsighted and a squandering of one’s power.
One interesting paradox of power is that the more we hoard power the less powerful we become. On the other hand, to empower is to gain power and be more powerful. I give several illustrations in the book.
Q: Did you need to do much research to write the book, and if so, did you learn anything that especially surprised you?
A: Since my curiosity began early in my life, it has been a lifelong research project. Especially in the last 40 years I have been able to study and gain experiences that are gathered in the development of this book. Classes I took, books read, workshops attended, trainings, and just plain paying attention to what is happening around me.
For over seven years I directed the outpatient mental health department at Good Shepherd Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania. That opportunity was a unique way to be engaged in people’s lives and pay attention to how well or how badly they used their personal power.
The only surprise is how bad most people are at using their power.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?
A: The book covers a wide range of aspects of power utilization. For example: conflict management, levels of conflict, types of conflict, and many other ways to explore the wide and deep dynamics that are a part of power. I look at several different kinds of therapy and how they help us use our power more effectively. I share things I have learned from various readings.
The point being that over these 40 years I have amassed a broad knowledge and appreciation of personal power, family power, organizational power. My hope is that people will read the book and enhance their understanding and application of power.
Each chapter ends with reflection questions to assist the reader to process what they have just read, find ways to implement this in their lives and make the commitment to make the positive changes.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Most of my energy is focused on marketing this book and my other books. With the COVID-19 problems I am not able to do the book signings and presentations one would normally do. So, I look forward to that opportunity.
I am teaching graduate classes at United Lutheran Seminary in Pennsylvania.
Otherwise, I am contemplating a book on parenting – powerful parenting. I would like to collaborate on that with someone who has a special expertise in parenting.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: When this COVID situation is over, I would like to do presentations, retreats, workshops, whatever. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please identify in the subject line that it is about Power Currency and Deborah Kalb.
Read the book – it will empower your life, your family and your organization.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb