October 27th, 2016
Empower is a word that has become cliché, in many senses. We are told we should empower ourselves, our choices, and our children; that we should be empowered in our careers, our relationships, our communities, and our life. But what does it really mean? Is empowerment the goal, the outcome, or the means to an end?
What is Empowerment?
At a basic level, the expression empowerment means becoming powerful. Though we would each love to become powerful in many areas of our life – our careers, our finances, our relationships – empowerment is of supreme importance in unlocking our potential.
Potential without empowerment is as useless as a car without gasoline, or as useless as wanting a car and not knowing what car to get. You may want a car, and you may even have the money to buy a car. You have the potential to own a car. With a car, by reaching your potential, you might go off-road, drive through snow, take a road trip, explore the countryside, enjoy a night out on the town, or haul furniture or groceries. Your potential to own a car opens up all of these possible outcomes to you. And yet, none of this potential is attainable without drilling down and selecting a make and model that fits your need. We empower our potential, in this example, by selecting a vehicle that will allow us to do the things we want to do, drive to the places we want to go, and have the features that are important to us.
In our lives and pursuits, our potential is reflected in our individual goals, skills, values, and dreams. Without empowerment though, we will never reach our potential. What then does empowerment look like?
I talk at length about empowering our potential in my new book, The Entrepreneurial Incubator, available now HERE. The succinct version of how to empower your potential looks like this:
Empowering your potential means…
…being prepared to change our behaviors and choices to obtain our goals.
…looking at who you are and becoming more aware of yourself as a unique individual.
…developing the strength and confidence to set realistic objectives using your true abilities.
A person focusing on empowerment is capable of taking control of their life by making great choices in line with great goals.
Empowering Your Potential
Reflection, unto empowering our potential, has several dimensions. Each touches on who we are as individuals and what tools we have to work with as we stretch to reach our goals and potential. Going back to our earlier example about the potential for owning a vehicle, we can see how reflection is an important part of empowering that potential. Specifically:
Self Awareness: Self awareness involves knowledge of our individual character and exactly how we are likely to respond to situations. Knowing our character enables us to develop our positive qualities and be conscious of any negative qualities which might sabotage our success. Self-aware people make aware decisions to improve their life and gain insight from past experiences. Self awareness allows us to say, “I’ve had a car before, and now I want to drive a small SUV so that I can get out in nature and explore some rugged country. I’m aware that being outdoors is important to me, so I choose to select my potential vehicle in accordance with that.”
Values: The beliefs or opinions that are important to us are our values, and we aren’t always aware of them unless we consciously reflect and take inventory. Understanding our values helps us understand our choices, why we gravitate towards certain goals and aspirations, and why we tend towards activity or inactivity in any given circumstance. When we reflect and become aware of our unique set of values, we can put them to work and require that they aid us in reaching our potential. Values allow us to say, “I am fiscally conservative, so good gas mileage is important to me; I am adventurous, so a city-driving sedan won’t meet my needs; I am family-oriented, so a vehicle’s safety rating and safety features are important to me.”
Skills: Our skills are the primary resource allowing us to achieve our goals and objectives. Skills can be gained through practice, education, experience and training. By building our skills, we allow ourselves a pathway towards translating values and goals into action. Skills allow us to say, “My credit rating is poor right now, so I’d like to work on enhancing that and paying down debt before securing an auto loan. My potential for owning a car is still there, but my skills for managing my money more wisely need some improvement before I can reach that potential.”
Empowering your potential is not a destination; it’s not a fixed and static activity you perform once in your life. Rather, empowerment is an activity, an on-going self-improvement journey. As circumstances change and develop, as our potential opens up and manifests in our lives, as we ourselves develop and change, so also does our need for reflecting. By aligning our mind, by being aware of our skills and values, empowerment will unlock that path to our potential.
The Entrepreneurial Incubator is your guidebook to unlocking potential through empowerment and taking your idea from mind to market. To learn more, get your copy at the discounted rate here at: www.theentrepreneurialincubator.com.
Onward and upward!
©Dennis G. Shaver, 2016. All rights reserved.