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Jan 6, 2014

Over the holidays, I was part of the Great Ice Storm of 2013 in Michigan.

I went without power for about 43 hours, and another three (3) days after that without TV or Internet.

That doesn’t sound like much, especially when there were people still without power many days after the storm. I considered myself lucky.

Here’s what I learned about being powerless:

  1. It would suck being Amish.
  2. It is exhausting to not have power.
  3. People talk a lot more when you don’t have power.
  4. You appreciate daylight hours when you don’t have power; they become critical in getting things done. Once it gets dark, your day is pretty much done.
  5. It’s stressful not having power, after you’ve had power.
  6. When you don’t have power, it seems like those with power are mocking you with all of their power. (I had neighbors who had power one street over and I swear they actually turned on every single one of their lights just to show how much power they had, and possibly put up even more lights!)
  7. People in like circumstances — those of us without power — tend to work together better to help each other.
  8. I never considered “electrical power” to be a convenience. I do now.
  9. I’m assuming there will be a Great Ice Storm baby boom in Michigan in about 10 months. Staying warm is critical in a power outage, in Michigan, in December.
  10. You can’t plan for “10 year events.” People in Michigan are HOT over the reaction and timing to electrical worker crews responding to outages. They feel the power companies should have been better prepared for this. The reality is, companies don’t plan for once-every-10-year-events; they plan for monthly and annual events. You wouldn’t want to pay the extra cost on your monthly utility bill to ensure they were prepared for once a decade events.

People without power in the workplace

Organizationally, you have many people without power. Metaphorically speaking, this is not much different from not actually having electrical power in your home. It sucks.

Having an understanding of what powerless people feel like is critical to how successful your organization can be.

It’s stressful and tiring not to have power. It grinds on you over time. People get frustrated. People get short-tempered. People feel not in control. None of that is good.

Having compassion for the powerless is not enough. Having empathy and understanding, is not enough. You need to be able to share the power within your organization, to make sure everyone has a little.

It might not be equal, but it sure helps if everyone has some. Being the one with none is completely ostracizing.

To be truly power-less, sucks.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.