With - or without - great power

December 2023

You've likely heard the phrase "With great power comes great responsibility." Fans of Spiderman may already know the adage was popularized by the Marvel comics as early as 1962. In the centuries before and the decades since, the same sentiment has been applied to monarchs, presidents, and prime ministers.

But what about people who aren't world leaders?

At Stories Change Power, we recognize everyone has responsibility and power, even if the latter can be limited by circumstances, social forces, and the very laws, policies, and systems they are working to change. That's why we value agency, meaning the thoughts people think and actions people take to express their power. All of us can utilize the power we have to shape our life trajectory to the extent of our ability.

With that power, we have a choice: reaffirm the current reality or use our power to change it.

Under our definition of agency, those with power to create a just, equitable, and peaceful world should use their power to do exactly that -- and be held accountable when they don't.

Our version of agency also means respecting the people impacted by issues we address in our advocacy. That means prioritizing assets (not deficits) in our mindset, interactions, and communications. Put another way, we focus on what's possible (not solely on the problem), on individuals (not stereotypes), and what people can do (not what others assume they can't).

In practice, agency can be as simple as encouraging participants in our cohorts to eat lunch during sessions if that's best for their schedule and turn off their cameras if they are experiencing Zoom fatigue, and as complicated as ensuring every step of an organization's work with people surviving trauma respects their agency. 

Yes, structures and dynamics in the workplace and society writ large can limit agency. As we seek to remove those limits, we encourage everyone in our orbit to embrace their power to determine their own balance of giving and receiving joy, care, and support in order to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life.

- Piper Hendricks, Founder & CEO


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