What was the first thing on your mind when you woke up this morning? For many people, the same thoughts cross their minds each day. Multiple studies have been conducted to learn more about what thoughts generally go through our minds first thing in the morning. It has been revealed that a large majority of individuals think about their phones, money and work, significant others, health, to do lists and food (Sleep Junkie, 2017). Of the items listed, it was discovered that a majority of men and women woke up thinking about money and work the most (Sleep Junkie, 2017).
We are all placed on this earth for a reason, to serve a purpose in life. It is up to us to determine what our purpose is and then use the talents that God has given us to do work that is honoring to him. Life is full of decisions to make, and when you think about it, every day as soon as you arise, you are faced with yet another important decision. Rather than the mundane, that important decision should revolve around what kind of impact you can make within your day.
Look, my morning thoughts fell into the same buckets listed above for many years. It wasn’t until taking the Master’s in Strategic Leadership program that I realized that the first thing on my mind daily should be to ignite empowerment within myself and others.
What is empowerment? Empowerment has dual meaning that can be impactful for yourself and those around you. As defined in the dictionary, empowerment is “authority or power given to someone to do something” or “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights” (dictionary, n.d.).
Why is it important to wake up thinking about empowering yourself and others? Because empowerment can truly impact the world around us. Most of us know that the world is comprised of talented and extraordinary people that generate great ideas. We also understand that individuals are driven by a purpose greater than themselves. But as leaders in a consistently changing world, we are charged with enabling ourselves and those around us to assimilate knowledge to transform today’s challenges into future opportunities (Harward, 2016).
This was indeed the “aha moment” that has guided my actions over the past several months. There is a clear understanding that empowerment is like a muscle in our body that builds and gets stronger with attention, but weakens when neglected. That said, I now wake up every morning knowing that being fueled by empowerment is a fundamental ingredient to shaping the world around me.
Before having the confidence to empower others, first one must learn how to be an engaged and influential leader themselves. Let’s look at this from a biblical perspective. “Matthew 9:35-10:1 is a story about Jesus sending out his disciples to evangelize the world. It begins with Jesus acting alone and ministering to the crowds and ends with him empowering his disciples to do the very same thing” (God’s Career Guide, n.d., para. 1). There were some core competencies being displayed by Jesus during this time, but what were they? I began to do research to uncover what some of these fundamental components of empowering yourself are, and after thoroughly reading through various articles it all made sense to me: empowerment is a well-choreographed dance that relies on many different elements to ensure an encore performance.
The following fundamental points will help you enhance your empowerment abilities.
3 Pillars of Developing Empowerment
1. Building trust
We all know that trust is essential to many things in life and in reality can be a difficult and lengthy process. Tools that can help you build trust to achieve empowerment are:
- Be Open: When sharing information, thoughts or ideas. If appropriate, you can also share feelings and reactions.
- Share and Co-operate: Share resources and knowledge with others to help them achieve their goals and find opportunities to work together towards mutual goals.
- Be Trustworthy: When others place their trust in you, do your best to deliver positive outcomes.
- Be Accepting: Hold others views and values in high regard, even when they do not align with your own.
- Be Supportive: Support others when necessary but also allow them to work towards their goals without much intervention as appropriate (Skillsyouneed, n.d., para. 5).
Utilizing the above points will help build and maintain trusting relationships in both your personal and professional life. We all know that trust can be easily broken and when that happens it can sometimes be very hard to restore trust to its former level (Skillsyouneed, n.d., para. 5).
2. Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and limits
Time for a moment of truth! This part of empowerment is important because it will enable you to work on improving your weaknesses and build on your strengths. As I have done in the Master’s of Strategic Leadership program, I encourage you to take different assessments and even create a personal SWOT analysis that can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses (Skillsyouneed, n.d., para. 5).
3. Developing confidence and self-esteem
Confidence can be one of the greatest motivators or most powerful limitations when becoming empowered. Think about it, we all have the tendency to take on tasks that we feel capable of doing, however, that will not position us for growth. Empowerment tests those limits and challenges our own beliefs of what you are truly capable of (Skillsyouneed, n.d., para. 5).
Core Dimensions of Empowerment
The below dimensions are based on the belief that the wider the range of coping responses a person develops, the more likely they will be able to align with and cope effectively with diverse life situations (Skillsyouneed, n.d., para. 3).
- Self-Awareness: Take time to fully understand your individual character and how you are likely to respond to situations. This is important because it allows for us to build on our positive qualities and be aware of negative traits that will reduce effectiveness. People who are self-aware make conscious decisions to learn from past experiences by using them to add value to their lives.
- Values: Understand what your values are. I encourage you to do a values audit to fully understand the opinions and beliefs that are important to you. We completed one in the Master’s of Strategic Leadership program and it provided me with the opportunity to critically examine how my values may be different from others.
- Skills: These are the main resources that will enable you to achieve your desired goals. By developing such skills, individual values can be put into action. Sharpen your skills through experience, practice, training and furthering your education.
- Information: Knowledge of information is needed in the development of skills and self-awareness. Being able to seek out appropriate information is in itself a very helpful skill. Without information, the choices open to us and others is limited which hinders progress in our personal and working lives. While using tools such as the internet can sometimes be helpful, always make sure that the information you find is accurate and reliable.
- Goals: By setting goals, this allows for you and others to take charge of life. The process of setting goals involves people thinking critically about their values and gives us a sense of direction in life which is essential for empowerment (Skillsyouneed, n.d., para. 3).
Lastly, approach is everything when you are working towards empowerment. The use of effective language and how individuals express themselves verbally and non-verbally can be empowering to themselves and the people with whom they are communicating (Skillsyouneed, n.d., para. 4).
1. Language for personal empowerment
- Use positive language: Self-image is usually reflected in the words we use. Talk about yourself positively.
- Use active language: Limit being vague and encourage yourself to use terms that imply positive action.
- Use words to define your own space and identity: If you fail to use words that define your space and identity, others will tend to define you and set standards for you. Be clear about who you are, along with what your values and goals are (Skillsyouneed, n.d., para. 4).
2. Language to empower others
- Do not use jargon or complex terminology: Such language can be alienating and create feelings of intimidation. Be sure to choose words with care and provide clarity for what you are trying to express.
- Focus on the words people use: Using shared terminology can allow for you to appear more compatible with the other person you are empowering.
- Choose positive words: Select words and statements which carry responsibility as they take less of a passive approach.
- Avoid criticism and negativity: Always attempt to buffer criticism with positive observations.
I challenge you to wake up to a greater purpose in life. Personally empower yourself by utilizing the tools above to make a greater impact on the world around you. Take it from me; it will change your life!
Empowerment [Def. 1 and 2]. (n.d.).In Dictionary Online. Retrieved April 7, 2018, from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/empowerment?s=t
God’s Career Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved April 8, 2018, from http://godscareerguide.com/the-leader-who-empowers-others/
Harward, R. (2016, November 22). Why empowerment is so important to our world. The National. Retrieved April 7, 2018, from https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/why-empowerment-is-so-important-to-our-world-1.174806
Skillsyouneed. (n.d.). Retrieved April 8, 2018, from https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/personal-empowerment.html
Sleep Junkie (2017, August 25). Rise and Shine: How American’s Habits Upon Waking Affect Their Lives. Sleep Junkie. Retrieved April 7, 2018, from https://www.sleepjunkie.org/RISE-AND-SHINE/