Like many of you, I reviewed the list of the 100 most powerful women of 2010. As a father of three daughters, I was saddened to think that a somewhat reputable publication like Forbes would actually use the word “powerful” to describe women who have very little to do with power, but may have influenced unintelligent or impressionable dolts into believing that they do.
Power, in the case of what Forbes failed to define, is presumably the ability to have some international authority or influence, some form of divine strength over others, or an authority legally granted by a body of individuals. If you are one of those that believe that anyone on that list has some power over you, you have just demoted yourself to the rank of “slave.” What power do I think Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Beyonce Knowles, or Queen Elizabeth hold over my daughters, or anyone for that matter? None. Sure, they are all lucky, talented, successful, or honorable; but powerful? Really?
At least the list contained women who my daughters can look to as examples of self-made women who themselves who got to where they were regardless of what mass media defined as “powerful.” These include Irene Rosenfield, Angela Merkle, and Indira Nooyi. Though not what I would consider a role-model for my daughters, even Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga) used her extraordinary talents to achieve success. Was she influenced? Probably. Is she influential? To some. Is she powerful? Only if you believe it to be.
However, too often we begin to believe that power is actually associated with extreme wealth or present fame. If you believe that as well, then tell me how powerful would you consider the likes of Bernie Madoff and his ilk. If you are looking for real power, look to the women who have actually changed the destiny of a country or the world. My list includes, Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Ann Frank, and Rosa Parks.
So what is the lesson for my daughters?
- Don’t believe that power is derived from wealth or fame.
- The positive actions you use to better yourself and allow you to better the lives of others makes you powerful, as long as it is done with humility.
I do not discredit those on the Forbes “most powerful women” list though I look at the choice to select some women who did absolutely nothing to earn the so called title as simply literary pandering. These women may have other traits that do make them truly powerful. In fact, I do not doubt that each of the 100 on the list have donated some of their fortune to people and causes they deemed worthy of help. It is simply that elementary journalism to satisfy a base human desire for “lists” is a poor way of demonstrating power.
I want my daughters to be three things: Mentally Strong, Physically Strong, and Financially Strong. I did not say fabulously rich, but I want them to be as wealthy as they want – to acquire more money that they spend, and to save more than they owe. More importantly, I want them to measure their lives by how they will be remembered. History has shown me that in a thousand years, people will still recall Mother Theresa and completely forget Michelle Obama.
As my book, Wealth Virtues, describes a means of creating wealth using the Thirteen Virtues of Benjamin Franklin, I leave you with three of this great gentleman’s famous quotes that may help summarize my thoughts on “power.”
I conceive that the great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things.
Who is wise? He that learns from everyone. Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody.
Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.