If you look up the word "empowerment", there are 2 definitions. 

  1. Empowerment - authority or power given to someone to do something
  2. Empowerment - the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's life

Which definition applies to you?  Do you believe that your power is something that is given to you, or something that you must claim through a process of growth and development?

If you believe in the first definition, your life will be full of lucky or unlucky decisions.  An employer who fails to recognize your potential will actually limit your performance and ultimately your career and ability to earn a great living.  A negative friend who fills your life with toxicity will forever create drama in your life.  You will always be at risk of becoming a victim of life and your own circumstances. 

I personally don't believe that the first definition is valid unless you choose to give up your own power to someone else.  Why would anyone do this?  I've done it multiple times in my life and its always out of fear or just plain momentum.  Whether it’s the fear of losing a promotion, that 3rd week of vacation, the health insurance, or even just sticking your neck out too much and getting into trouble, it is scary to claim responsibility for your life.  Failure becomes too much to face, so we stop taking risks and eventually we stop taking responsibility.  

I believe that we are all born with our own unique potential.  Potential is something we CAN become, but it is not a promise.  It is up to us to take control of our journey while recognizing that many circumstances are outside of our control.  Empowerment is a journey into uncharted space.  Its learning about ourselves and our place in the world and how we can be more effective and more confident.  The journey moves us towards our full potential. 

The challenge is that our potential might not align with what we think we should be.  When I landed my dream job at 3M, I imagined a life long career and dream being realized.  When the actual experience didn't quite align with who I am, it was very difficult to change directions and much easier to give up control per the first definition above.  I am fortunate to have chosen to continue the journey which took me off my expected path, but put me on a much better path.  My new path has included failures and successes, but through it, I'm slowly learning that its not the failures or successes that impact our ability to reach our potential, its about the things we learn along the way. 

Which definition of empowerment will you choose?  This is such a fundamental question for our lives and our futures because your answer will largely determine how much of your own unique potential will be reached.  I hope you accept the challenge of learning to be the best you.  While this choice may not take you where you want to go, it will take you where you need to go.

Categories: Culture

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