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Empowerment: (noun) Em-pow-er-ment
– the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.
We know what it means. Some of us use the term often. In many workplace cultures, this is a “buzz-word”. I’ve heard it so many times, “Empower your people.” “Take charge and feel empowered.” Let’s spend a couple of minutes to truly dissect what empowerment means for you! When I refer to “you”, I mean you as a human being. Strip yourself from the roles and titles you hold. True empowerment starts with aligning your values to how you live your life. When our actions are inconsistent with our values, we certainly do not feel empowered, regardless of what we tell ourselves. This point, my friends, is one of the most significant contributors to stress and anxiety. So let’s take a couple of minutes to identify the roots of empowerment.
I challenge you to take a step back and truly take inventory of what is happening in your day-to-day world. Let’s uncover the level of empowerment that actually exists for you at the moment. Together we can begin building your plan toward authentic empowerment in your life.
Write down the top ten words that come to mind when you visualize yourself as completely empowered. For me, my list includes words like freedom, health, spirituality. (It’s okay if you use some of mine!). Put the list aside and let a day pass. Tomorrow review the list very thoroughly and reduce your list to six items. Yes, I know this is going to be tough. The items you are removing are not going away forever, and they certainly do not carry any less importance. We are just putting them aside. Don’t hold a rigid sense of attachment to them.
Spend another night thinking about those six words that remain. Play out scenarios in your mind as you ponder on those words. For example, if one of your words is freedom, how would that appear in your life? Is it the ability to act without constraint, or is it the absence of necessity, or perhaps some other meaning? Truly unpack the words you wrote and give them all deep consideration. Now for the next step…. and yes, this is going to be tough. Eliminate three words from your list. Once again, the words you remove will still have strong underpinnings in your life. By the way, no one is judging you when you remove a word. If you remove “freedom” from your list, it doesn’t mean that you no longer hold freedom as a key principle in your life, or somehow the rest of the world will know that you removed the word. You are simply putting it aside.
Take a look at the three words that remain on your list. Don’t worry, I am not going to instruct you to bring your list down to just one word! However, I am going to suggest placing those three words in order of priority. Yes, they are all important! That is why they are on your list. But when you have to make a decision, which of those words would you most likely refer to first when weighing your options. For example, if your three words are Career, Freedom, and Spirituality, and you had to spend time on Sunday to complete a work project in lieu of going to your church services, which would you choose. I know that you are now thinking, “that’s not an easy decision”, or “it depends”. Yes, it is situational, but you know deep down in your gut what the answer is. You just have to give yourself the space and time to explore that answer. That is why this last step may take a couple of days.
Once you have your three words in priority order, that becomes your compass for all of your decision-making. These words are your values. When the actions you take consistently align with your values, you will feel completely empowered. The reason is that you, and NO ONE ELSE, has established how you want to live your life.
I have done this exercise and lots of questions and doubts surfaced in the process. I had a coach to guide me through those questions. That is why I am offering you an opportunity to join me in a complimentary webinar to help guide you through the process. I will offer many additional points to think about as we explore the concept of empowerment more deeply. Join me at noon on Thursday, August 6th for a 45-minute session where I will challenge you with more thought-provoking exercises in our quest for empowerment.