The Power of Onlyness
Make Your Wild Ideas Mighty Enough to Dent the World
by Nilofer Merchant
Pub Date 29 Aug 2017
Shortlisted for the Thinkers50 Breakthrough Idea Award
A Financial Times Business Book of the Month
“For any would-be activists who hear the voice: ‘not me’ or ‘not now,’ Merchant makes the strong case for ‘yes you’ and ‘yes now’—and even shows you how to jump in.” —Van Jones, host of CNN’s The Messy Truth, author of Rebuild the Dream and The Green Collar Economy
“The Power of Onlyness is a book for our times. . . . Merchant forces us to dig deep, into the book and ourselves, and it goes beyond self-knowledge and self-empowerment, obliterating the fear of otherness with an understanding of the onlyness of us all.” —Sally Haldorson, 800-CEO-READ
An innovation expert illuminates why your power to make a difference is no longer bound by your status
If you’re like most people, you wish you had the ability to make a difference, but you don’t have the credentials, or a seat at the table, can’t get past the gatekeepers, and aren’t high enough in any hierarchy to get your ideas heard.
In The Power of Onlyness, Nilofer Merchant, one of the world’s top-ranked business thinkers, reveals that, in fact, we have now reached an unprecedented moment of opportunity for your ideas to “make a dent” on the world. Now that the Internet has liberated ideas to spread through networks instead of hierarchies, power is no longer determined by your status, but by “onlyness”—that spot in the world only you stand in, a function of your distinct history and experiences, visions and hopes. If you build upon your signature ingredient of purpose and connect with those who are equally passionate, you have a lever by which to move the world.
This new ability is already within your grasp, but to command it, you need to know how to meaningfully mobilize others around your ideas. Through inspirational and instructive stories, Merchant reveals proven strategies to unleash the centrifugal force of a new idea, no matter how weird or wild it may seem.
Imagine how much better the world could be if every idea could have its shot, not just the ones that come from expected people and places. Which long-intractable problems would we solve, what new levels of creativity would be unlocked, and who might innovate a breakthrough that could benefit ourselves, our communities, and especially our economy. This limitless potential of onlyness has already been recognized by Thinkers 50, the Oscars of management, which cited it one of the five ideas that will shape business for next twenty years.
Why do some individuals make scalable impact with their ideas, regardless of their power or status? The Power of Onlyness unravels this mystery for the first time so that anyone can make a dent. Even you.
Praise for The Power of Onlyness:
“Onlyness shows us a brand new path to power: one that is accessible to the young and the old, the quiet and the forceful, the sanguine and the troubled.”
—Susan Cain, bestselling author of Quiet & co-founder of Quiet Revolution
“No longer do we need to worry about how our ideas will be judged. By showing us how to mobilize communities around our ideas, Nilofer Merchant shows us why and how we can elevate the power of our ideas to limitless heights unfettered by conformity.”
—Amy Cuddy, author of Presence
“With The Power of Onlyness, Nilofer Merchant passes all three tests of a masterpiece: 1) memorable stories; 2) actionable insights; and 3) urgent relevance to now!”
—Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence
“Merchant discovers her onlyness when she walks out on an arranged marriage. At first, she doesn’t know what to call it but a lifetime of encouraging men and women to summon the best of themselves teaches her how to nurture it—in herself and others. Now we need her empowering work more than ever. Onlyness doesn’t mean you work alone; but you train yourself, sometimes against the odds, to recognize your own value and increase your chance of finding allies!”
—Sherry Turkle, author of Reclaiming Conversation and Alone Together
“With captivating stories and keen insights, Nilofer Merchant urges us to cast aside conformity and embrace our own unique identity and purpose. The Power of Onlyness is a bold, inspiring book that will leave you feeling infused with power and ready to take on the world.”
—Dan Pink, author of Drive and To Sell is Human
“Nilofer Merchant’s spectacular gift is to make tangible what we already feel to be instinctual: the power of the individual alongside the power of a community in the service of one idea can change the world. But Nilofer also explains what may not feel so instinctual: that all of us have the capacity to create change, no matter our social, racial, gender or economic status. This book is one of the most hopeful pieces of writing I’ve read in a long time. Nilofer defines and explains the value of individuality and collaboration in equal measure. It’s a true celebration not just of humanity but of all the possibilities we can accomplish together.”
—Stacy London, style expert, TV personality, and author of The Truth about Style
“For any would-be activists who hear the voice: ‘not me’ or ‘not now,’ Merchant makes the strong case for ‘yes you’ and ‘yes now’—and even shows you how to jump in.”
—Van Jones, host of CNN’s The Messy Truth, author of Rebuild the Dreamand The Green Collar Economy
“This is an illuminating book about the context in which great, world-changing ideas emerge and take root, with stories and insights galore.”
—Eli Pariser, co-founder and co-CEO, Upworthy
“The Power of Onlyness is the wake-up call that the world needs so badly right now. It's a reminder that, quite simply, we all matter. That each perspective has inherent value. That each person's unique vantage point is literally a position of power. That each voice matters, and should be used. Be warned: after reading this book, you won't be able to ignore that voice again. You will be compelled to speak up and to use it, in bigger, bolder, louder ways than ever before.”
—Jessica Jackley, founder of Kiva
Praise for 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era:
“Social media is a game changer, yes, but it’s only part of the larger shift of the social era, writes Nilofer Merchant, [who] sketches out the new paradigm’s core principles.”
—Fast Company (Best Business Books of 2012)
“A rare combination: strategic, well researched, and actionable. Nilofer Merchant helps executives see what’s at stake in the connection economy.”
—Seth Godin, author of Tribes and Linchpin
“Traditional strategy is dead. But do not fear—Nilofer Merchant shows how your organization can thrive with the new rules of the social era. Buy yourself a copy—and one for every member of your board.”
—Charlene Li, founder, Altimeter Group; author of Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead and co-author of Groundswell