professional development

Powerfully potent

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Power. It’s a word that has been haunting me lately. But is the misapplication of that word’s meaning that causes all the negativity. Here’s an alternative…

Powerfully potent

Kirsty Dunphey

Ever said a word so often that it just becomes a mash of sounds and almost loses any resemblance to its meaning? I’ve been doing that lately with the word “powerful”.

The reason it’s crept into my head was after reading an article about David Geffen, referred to at a time as “the most powerful person in Hollywood”.

Powerful… pau-er-fel… the word was still repeating in my head when I went to a personal training session this morning.

My fabulous personal trainer Brett somehow tuned into my mood and started telling me about the difference between strength and power when it came to his line of work.

Strength, he said, could be represented by him walking outside and slowly but surely lifting a car above his head. On the other hand, power, he mused, is a combination of not just strength but also of speed. So instead of slowly lifting the car, power would be shown by propelling the large object with both speed and strength.

Too often when I personally think of power or of someone being powerful I think of it just in terms of strength (of will, of action, of thought, of achievement) but Brett’s conversation with me got me thinking about the key element of speed in the actions of some of the most powerful people out there in business today.

  • Steve Jobs showed strength in coming back to Apple, and showed speed in new product implementation with key design features (iMacs, iPods, iPhones).
  • Martha Stewart showed strength in making her comeback from jail and sped to the market with new concepts immediately after her release.
  • Larry & Sergey of Google didn’t build the first search engine (don’t mistake speed for needing to be first) but they are the strongest player in the market and are constantly speedy at improving and increasing their range of services (check out Google… analytics, earth, alerts, knoll, maps, scholar as examples). I know I don’t go more than two hours of any day at my desk without using a Google product. If they’d just stuck with their search engine this wouldn’t be the case.

All too often these days, people shun the word “power” not wanting to be thought of as “power hungry” or having “let the power gone to their heads”!

For me however, I want power.

I want the power to:

  • Do work I love.
  • Look after my family.
  • Live the life I want to.
  • Achieve my goals.
  • Do all of the above without harming others.

Power shouldn’t have the negative connotations it’s been stigmatised with lately if we all remember the true meaning (not the over-hyped one). In fact one of my favourite dictionary definitions of powerful simply says that power is ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something. Now we all want that don’t we?

The 25 most powerful people in business.

The 100 most powerful people in sport 2007.

Hollywood’s most influential infants.


Kirsty Dunphey is one of Australia’s most publicised young entrepreneurs and is the founder of – the ultimate tool to help real estate agents write amazing advertisements. The youngest ever winner of the Australian Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year award, Kirsty started her first business at 15, her own real estate agency at 21, was a self-made millionaire at 23 and a self-made multi-millionaire at 25. For more information on Kirsty or either of her books – Advance to Go, Collect $1 Million and Retired at 27, If I Can Do It Anyone Can, or to sign up to her weekly newsletter head to:

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