What does “Power” mean to you? Power can be the energy that fuels a car or lights up a city. We often speak of power in the context of leaders who possess a unique ability to take charge or influence people and events to get results. We have so many associated expressions such as “power over,” “power with,” and “power under” For some, power is a force for good and positive change. For others, it creates feelings of fear and distrust.

Recently, the word “Power” came up for me as I paged through some of my old journals.  Stuck between two pages, I noticed a magazine clipping I saved with an equation for power devised by Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D. A theoretical physicist, she is a woman and a leader of extraordinary accomplishments and firsts. A leading global pioneer in science and trailblazer for diversity, she was the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate from MIT,  to be awarded the National Medal of Science, and to chair the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Over the last 20 years, she has demonstrated courage encountering her share of resistance as she led the way for numerous changes as President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

I  still remember that period in my life.  I often grappled with the best way to use my “power with” vs. “power over” those with whom I collaborated or led. Dr. Jackson’s unique formula inspired the kind of energy I wanted to put out in the world:

{Preparation10 (Passion+Persistence)}




{P₁10 (P₂ + P₃)}  +  {C₁10 (C₂ + C₃)}  +  {E10 (A + W)} = POWER

To quote Dr. Jackson, “Follow your passion with persistence, magnified by intense preparation. Use compassion and courage to weave a strong web of connections,  Use focused excellence to drive achievements and gain wisdom.  It is through the combination of all these things that your power will reveal itself. ”

The year 2020 is offering both challenges and opportunities.  I was inspired to post Dr. Jackson’s equation on the opening page of my planner to remind me how I want to continue to define and use my power. Thank you, Dr. Jackson, for sharing your formula that will stand the test of time. This combination of personal characteristics are capabilities we all possess, if encouraged, to fuel the future.

What if you applied this unique equation to reveal your power source? How can you help others to find that spark to empower potential and renewable energy for all as we advance?