In these modern times, we seem to be living in a culture of perpetual force. It’s a way of living that has become so prevalent that it just seems normal. We see numerous examples in business and our current political process. Force is a strategy that seeks a win/lose outcome. It’s expedient and usually backed up with the justification of “making the tough choices”. When one form of force doesn’t work, we escalate our tactics, creating another forceful reaction. Force commonly results in defensive and sometimes fearful counter strategies. It also creates enemies. This way of living takes a tremendous amount of energy, it’s divisive and polarizing.
In Dr. David R. Hawkins ground breaking book, Power vs. Force:The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior, he describes the benefits of power and it’s lasting effects. He says, “Power appeals to what uplifts, dignifies and ennobles. Force must always be justified, whereas power requires no justification”. Dr Hawkins says, “Force always succumbs to power….Because force has an insatiable appetite, it constantly consumes. Power in contrast, energizes, gives forth, supplies and supports.” Power takes less energy because it attracts. Whereas force detracts and takes much more energy. Power creates peace of mind, force prevents it.
Why would we continue using force as a way of living if it steals our peace? Perhaps it could be that we unconsciously believe that true force is the only way to get things done. We see the short-term win/lose outcomes play out all around us and can’t see the long-term effects. It could also be because we don’t have enough modern-day examples or mentors that show us that power always works out better than force.
Fortunately, we have a perfect example in Buck Brannaman. In the documentary, Buck (2011), we get an everyday example of what power looks like. Buck Brannaman is a highly skilled cowboy, horse trainer, and people mentor. He was the inspiration for the movie, The Horse Whisperer (1998). Buck collaborates with the horses in ways that make it look like a beautiful dance. There’s a harmony exchanged that’s delightful to watch.
In this movie, we get to know Buck, his family, friends, and how his horse training skills affects the lives of others. His work is more than training horses, as he says, “A lot of times, rather than helping people with horse problems, I’m helping horses with people problems”
Buck’s life as a boy was filled with fear and pain. As a young ranch hand, he started to see how “breaking” horses was similar to his experience as a boy. He recognized the fear in the horses and felt compassion for them. He didn’t like the whole element of abuse inherent with the process. Although, “breaking” horses was considered the only way to train a horse. It was brutal but effective. That’s what Buck thought until he met his two mentors, Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt. These gentleman teach Buck a “soft feel” when working with horses. They taught him how to be gentle and firm. He learned to respect the power they display and chose to make it his life passion. As he says, “If you get a taste of what I’m talking about, it will make you better in areas you didn’t think related to horses”.
In one scene, Buck is teaching how a horse responds to force using one of the participants as an example. Buck shows that when he pulls hard on the rope, held by the participant, it creates an equal and protective reaction. He shows that when there’s a give and take, then a natural harmony becomes possible.
Do You Come from Power or Force?
Buck shows us that your environment will reflect whether you’re coming from power or force. As he says, “Your horse is a mirror to your soul. Sometimes you might not like what you see…Sometimes you will”. Throughout the movie, Buck is surrounded by friends, clients, and family that love being around him. When he works with each horse, it calms down and is softened by his powerful, yet gentle presence. Just like the horses, people are also a clear mirror and they’ll reflect for you whether your approach comes from power or force. It’s clear how people and horses feel about Buck. They love, respect, and enjoy him. This reflection is palpable and a pleasure to experience.
Watch Buck for Examples of Power
Throughout the movie, Buck’s command of power is evident in everything he does. We recommend you watch this movie and look for how Buck uses the following attributes of power and how you can mirror his examples:
|Give & Take||Gentle & Firm||Soft feel|
Buck says that his childhood experiences could have led him down a different path. Although, he chose a different way. As he says, “you gotta choice”. We can all benefit from the lessons Buck teaches in this film. Especially leaders in business, politics, and education. We need more mentors like Buck to inspire each of us to choose power over force; leaders to show us a different path.
“Be gentle in what you do and firm at how you do it”. Buck Brannaman