Even though we all work in companies that empower their people – from process worker to CEO – allowing and encouraging us to become stronger and more confident in our roles, something is amiss, not all is well. We still have so much talent being left to drift in the ether; so much creativity never realised and so many opportunities missed. The question that needs asking is: why?
After working in a variety of companies, in different roles, across different industries and with such different internal cultures, I too now have a better understanding of one of the sources of this malady. And even though it is still about empowerment, it is about the empowerment of SELF. Irrespective of our position at work or in our communities, or within our families, the question remains: have we empowered ourselves? Have we given ourselves the authority and dare I say it, the approval to be the best we can be.
Whatever our role, whatever the company, the question is the same, “how am holding me back from being the best I can be” (it is not about becoming something grandiose or someone you don’t want to be).
Such an emotive and open-ended question will be extremely difficult to ask of ourselves. The “first responder” rushing to our aid when we ask the question will be Ego. Ego will have many reasons and excuses to protect us from the uncomfortable or unwanted truth. It wants to help us by keeping us in our own bubble.
Yet to change, grow and be true to ourselves we have to ask. I like using analogies as they get the message across without the EGO jumping in first. So I will use an analogy; let’s say I, myself am the business and I am also the only employee, so as a business wanting to empower my best and favourite employee how do I empower that employee. To do this I need to ask a series of questions pertaining to the four (typically) components of empowerment; it is from here I can identify areas requiring further focus.
Self-determination: Do I feel I have the freedom, independence and discretion over my life, and what I do? OR am I letting my fears, self-imposed limitations and barriers stop me from making my own decisions.
Meaning: Do I know what my purpose is, do I believe what I do is important? OR am I blindly following the goals of the crowd, the group, my congregation, an advertising or social media addiction?
Competence: Am I confident about my ability to live the life I want and to grow with new challenges? OR am I hiding behind a mask pretending to be something I am not; am I looking for validation from others (positive or negative)?
Impact: Am I an active participant in my own life? Do I think for myself; do I do the research and take action? Do I help make things happen, for the better? OR do I just “go with the flow” and think and do what I am told by others (overtly or covertly)?
We need all need self –determination, a meaning to our life, self-confidence and a belief we do have an impact. This is the feeling of “empowerment”.
By honestly answering these questions, we will be able to identify what may be holding us back from living a creative and fulfilled life. We alone have control of our thoughts and aspirations. It may not be easy – I’ll rephrase that, it won’t be easy; these are difficult questions to ask, it will rely on perseverance and probably internal courage.
Food for thought: Sometimes the best feedback comes from those who disagree, who question our motives, who question our methods. When they do, they give us the opportunity to look at what we are saying (not what they say) and to make a ‘critical’ assessment of what our position is. Is it based on a fallacy, a wish, a hope or is it based on a belief we can support and hold high?
Remember, even with all the best intentions friends and family, can often perpetuate our current condition, the feeling of being “Stuck”. They may subconsciously want us to stay in that space as their ego is protecting their own views.
So your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to ask yourself these questions, to hear your honest reply and then take action. Become the best you, you could ever be.