For our purposes, people have power in their lives when they believe they have choices for achieving their destiny. Three stories illustrate how a perceived lack of power pervades our society.
A few years ago, we staged a three-day DesignShop at the Leadership Center. Among others, a principal of a Nashville charter school attended. At the end of the second day, she approached me in tears, confessing:
Carter, I’ve felt miserable for two days, and I’ve kept asking myself why. I just realized you’ve been asking me to dream, and I had forgotten how to dream. I’ve got it back now, and I’m never going to lose it again.
J. D. Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy, shares many poignant stories showing how people in the heartland feel they control little in their lives. They believe they’re playing a game rigged against them. Taking any escape, even opiates seems perfectly acceptable behavior.