Power: Is It Nature or Nurture?

On our vacation in northern Ontario, Canada we observed how nice the people were. We did know they had a reputation for being nice, but observing it was interesting.

Some examples-they let you in while in stopped traffic or to cross the road. They stop. They wave. They say hello and meet your eyes when walking. When we went to a winery, we tried 6 or 7 different wines, and bought a couple of bottles. When we paid, I noted they did not charge for our tasting. I brought this to the proprietor’s attention. She said, “We don’t charge if you buy.” I was surprised, as a business coach, I would say that is not a profit making policy. When I expressed surprise, she just shrugged it off. When we stopped at the winery, we were driving on what is known as the apple trail. We asked about apple varieties- she shared some and recommended an orchard down the street.

At the orchard, in their store, the very nice woman had us trying several varieties for free. And we joked we almost had a meal with our wine and apples, so she suggested a lovely cheese shop.

The cheese shop was lovely and they were so nice, too! I talked to the sales woman at the cheese shop about the Canadian niceness. She said, “We were just raised that way, but..”, she went on, “We also apologize for everything, it is like we are sorry for our existence.”

That got me thinking about power. Is it an inborn trait or environmental? I did a bit of research and got mixed information. There is no clear answer, except to say it is a mix of both. So, some of us are born with tendencies to lead, to own our power, to be self-confident, and yet, all of us have choices in how we act and interact with the world, societal influences and each other. It seems that we are so often caught up in our own universes, that we don’t take the moment to be polite, to let someone in when driving, to wave and meet someone’s eyes, to give someone a tip for free or a free taste of something.