Empowerment

Power up for life

Recently I found myself in a spirited debate about personal empowerment. People speak of empowering themselves, employees and society yet when asked what it means most have difficulty providing a clear answer.

The discussion was around empowering women and minorities against ‘the system’ but I felt there was a broader context here for personal achievement. I also questioned whether empowerment was something that we are given or something that we create for ourselves.

I decided to explore this further and found many references in the self-help literature to achieving empowerment but very little on what that actually means. We could assume it refers to ‘having power’ but what does that really mean and what do we do with it when we have it?

There has to be a benefit in all this or why bother being empowered in the first place? Is it simply self confidence, a subjective emotion that, while positive, doesn’t actually create anything tangible? I’m not convinced. ‘Empowerment’ sounds like it means business.

If empowerment is going to be anything more than fairy floss then it had better have some substance beyond a superficial feel good label. Having given it some thought I have come up with a definition that I believe pulls it all together:

Personal empowerment is increasing our capacity to confidently make choices relevant to our situation and to transform those choices into desired actions; actions that have influence and create results.

This definition draws together confidence, self esteem, having a clear path and not being influenced by the opinions or actions of others. It is about taking control when we want to make a positive impact.

Through it we can achieve a sense of responsibility and hold ourselves accountable. It should make us better people by our own definition. And happier people too.

In this sense, ‘empowerment’ and ‘personal power’ are interchangeable, perhaps with the latter being stronger as it has a sense of being taken – I assert my personal power – where empowerment can be passive if it is given or allowed by another.  

Tony Robbins has been talking about personal power as a key determinant of success for many years. He defines personal power as the ability to take action. This is how he suggests you use it:

1. Decide what you will no longer stand for and what you’re committed to. Clarity is power.

2. Take massive action. You have to be willing to do the things you don’t want to do. You have to build a momentum that consistent action produces.

3. Notice what’s working and what’s not working. And when it’s not working, change your approach. And keep changing until you finally achieve what it is you’re committed to.

Popular culture often misrepresents the concept of personal empowerment by placing emphasis on attaining a subjective emotion in which we feel empowered. However, empowerment requires action that influences our lives with results.

For example, reading a self-help book might make us feel empowered to improve our financial position, but unless we are able to initiate a plan of action and unless that action leads to improvements in our circumstances, we are no more empowered than we were when we started. A feel-good moment of positivity is no substitute for action.

In my opinion, one of best initial steps is to identify goals that promise a higher likelihood of success and work to achieve those (belief – confidence – action – result – repeat). Success builds confidence and allows us to aim and reach higher. Climbing a ladder is easier a rung at a time than trying to jump to the top. It may take longer but the journey is easier.

Once we are empowered to act and have the strength to do so then we can reclaim our reality and, along with it, our self esteem and our life. One rung at a time.

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4 Responses to “Empowerment”

  1. paulhassing Says:

    Very nice piccie, WLB2. I also found your Tony Robbins summary useful. Best regards, P. 🙂

  2. adamnrave Says:

    I found this very helpful too, WLBB. Take massive action, huh? Righto …

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