Take Back Your Power

How many times have you told yourself “when I get to X then I can do X” ? Or “when I save (a certain dollar amount) then I can buy X”?

I hear this excuse a lot, and I’m calling it an excuse, because the truth of the matter is your power doesn’t rest in the unknown. Living in a world of uncertainty is not great. In fact, it can be stressful and debilitating if you let it. So how can you take back your power?

  1. Start with a the smallest step – you got it, start doing something! The smallest step towards what you want and who you want to be is everything. This first smallest step can be as simple as making a list of what you want to achieve. If you get stuck here, then reverse this list and write down what you don’t want to achieve.

For example: if you have a financial goal of: When I save $1000 in my emergency fund, then I can start planning to remodel the guest bathroom. Ok – great goal to have, but have you even considered what your guest bathroom remodel will entail? Will it be new paint and fixtures, or a full gut job taking the room down to the studs? Have you gotten estimates on what your project will even cost? Putting the steps together, even before you are ready to pull the trigger, will (believe it or not) open up the path to achievement. You may find out that the steps of your plan aren’t hurdles at all, and that the tools already exist for you to get started.

2. Overcome the mindset that “others take away my power.” This is a good one. I, too, have gotten all excited about a new idea only to have those close to me (my spouse included) take all the wind out of my sails. It is not because they think my idea is a bad one, necessarily, but perhaps more to do with the fact that my idea isn’t interesting to them. This is where the planning part of your strategy needs to come into play. As yourself these questions:

  • Why is this goal important to me?
  • What will allow me to do differently than I’m doing now?
  • What will not moving forward with this goal mean to me?
  • Who and what do I need to have to accomplish this goal?

3. Find your own path. Many years ago, I was on a long flight by myself and was seated next to a guy who ended up having a remarkable conversation with. It is not always the case that we get seated next to strangers and end up having a hours long bonding session, but this one stuck a chord with me. I never got his name, but the conversation we had was powerful. I can’t even remember how the conversation started, or even what the specific topic was about. The feeling I got when the flight was over was a feeling of understanding, sense of self and aspiration to be more centered in who I was. This gentleman exuded a high sense of self confidence, humbleness, and total lack of insecurity in who he was. We were sitting in coach, and as we exited the plane I watched as he made his way over to the limo driver who was holding a sign with his name. An assistant greeted him, took his carry on bag and escorted him into the waiting limo at the curb. I felt like I had been given a gift that day. This person was obviously someone who had achieved financial success, but took the time to have a hours long conversation with me (a complete stranger) in coach on an airplane. WOW!

4. Share your power. The best way to feel powerful is to give it to others. Think of yourself as a magic fairy who can wave their magic wand and drop power into the hearts and minds of others at any given moment. Something as little as a kind word of encouragement, an open ended question, or a little nudge in the right direction through an introduction is a spark that someone else needs to reclaim their power.

5. There is enough power for all of us. I sometimes come across other people who hang on to their power like it is their last lifeline on this earth. They are afraid to “give their power away” because that will mean that there is less for them to have or control. Here is a secret: power is not limitless. Allowing others in our lives to rise up will create even more power to us.

A Powerful You

I had the wonderful opportunity to engage with a group of business professionals and have a much needed social time recently.  I have been invited to join these phenomenal women for a scheduled social time for many months now, but for the first time was able to attend due to my busy schedule.  I left some emails unattended, and some work left to be finished up later, because the opportunity to engage with these fellow power people was the most beneficial part of my week.

I feel that sometimes the busyness of life forces us to react instead of being proactive.  Why don’t we give ourselves permission to push the “pause” button and truly engage with people in the moment?  The life lessons we are able to glean from others, when no agenda is set, is sometimes the most important lessons that we can gain in life.  Those moments when you are not talking about a business deal, or a logistic for your  household, can be the most eye-opening.

What I am grateful for, is the people in my life that I only get to see for little bits of time, but when we are together it seems like no time has passed at all.  The hour that I got to spend this week with these powerful women made me feel powerful, too.

That leads me to a question for all of you: How do you feel most powerful?

My friend and executive coach Jay Pryor has asked me this question many times over the past few years.  At first, this question threw me for a loop.  If you are in sales, the power play comes at the close of the deal or when the client says “yes!”  In other parts of the business world, it may mean getting the job, promotion, recognition or new opportunity to expand yourself.  Feeling powerful is important in so many ways.  To know that you have a voice that matters and to know that you are heard is one of the most redeeming qualities you can have.

On the flip side, the ability to listen to others, reinforce others in their dreams, and be that support system for your family and friends can make anyone be powerful.  Sometimes the sheer act of being present for others is the best way to create power within your life.  Cherish these moments you have, and make sure you have the opportunity to engage with others that not only make you feel powerful, but that you also provide a powerful source to their lives.

Let’s Have the (Money) Talk

Money comes and goes out of our lives in an instant each and every day.  If you are employed, each hour (or portion thereof) you are on the clock, you are earning.  On paydays, you get to reap the rewards of your hard work, and spend what you have stockpiled in your bank account.  The feeling that money provides most of us is something along the lines of: power, control, and the ability to make (more) choices.

Why does money affect us in this way?  We always want more than we can afford, and we tend to spend more than we have.  Can you feel the power, control and variety of choices without money?

I am a mother of two, and have been discovering over the past few years that my children’s perception of money is vastly different than my own.  When we are at the store, I frequently have to field the question of “Mom can I have ___?”  It frustrates me to the point that I want to scream “NO!” and deny them of any future gifts.  They just don’t get the value of money, but why should they?  They see me buy things without deliberation, and haven’t yet witnessed our family discussing large financial decisions.

I decided to try a spending experiment with my oldest child recently.  The two of us spent the day together.  That morning, I gave her $20 to spend any way she chose.  She was ecstatic.  Since we hadn’t started an allowance system with her, the $20 was a way to kick start her work at home helping out.  We set off for the mall, and her eyes lit up at everything she saw.  The stuffed animals, candy, rides on the merry-go-round…it was all so enticing!  She wanted it all.  I told her she was in charge of her money, so she went into the first store to purchase a toy.

She quickly discovered that her $20 wouldn’t cover a stuffed animal, and all of the clothes and accessories that went with it.  As she put her items on the counter to pay, she had to make some tough choices.  If she wanted a ride on the merry-go-round later, and possibly a piece of candy, she would have to put some of her purchases back.  But which ones?  She carefully deliberated over her choices, and asked me several times to help her figure out the difference in the prices.  I think we drove the salesperson nuts in that store, but my exercise in making money decisions was achieved.

At the end of the day, we both were satisfied.  My daughter felt empowered by having control over her money and her choice on how to spend it.  I felt like we made a great first step in teaching her the value of money, and its limits.  If you only had so much, and not a penny more (or access to credit), would you choose to spend it differently?

Feel the Power

Do you feel powerful?

 Tony Robbins shared a thoughtful message during his Learning to Live Fearlessly presentation on the Oprah Winfrey Network.  He stated that “fear and courage are physical.”  He went on to explain how our body gives us signals when we experience fear and when we experience courage.  By taking this physical response and channeling it to your advantage, he infers that you can “create a physical action that makes you feel powerful.”

Athletes are masterful at using physical responses to relay their power on a regular basis.  Tiger Woods displays the powerful act of pumping his fist during many title golf championships.  We see NFL players do their victory dances in the end zones, track stars hold up their hands, and baseball players throw their hats in the air.  What elation they must be feeling at that moment!

To create this power in your own life, first think of what kind of environment helps bring about power.  Visualize what you are doing when the power is turned on.  Are you standing up?  Are you walking, running, driving? Do you have a smile on your face?  Are you alone?  Are you surrounded by friends, colleagues, family?

What about music?  Is there a song that gives you that boost of energy?  If you have ever seen the movie Jerry McGuire, then you might remember Tom Cruise’s character singing the song “Free Falling” by Tom Petty at the top of his lungs as he was driving away from a new client’s house.  This scene was put together to create a feeling of power after the main character was struggling to build his new firm.

I attended a minor league baseball game a few years ago for a company function.  I noticed that every time a player came up to bat, a certain song would play as he was walking to the plate.  I asked around and discovered that each player had his own “power song” to get them mentally geared up to hit the ball.  My colleagues and I discussed what would be our song, if we were up to bat.  The responses ranged anywhere from heavy metal to classical.  The ability to solicit power exists in all of us.  Turn it on.