I spoke at the St Louis Women Architecture Forum this past week. The topic of the talk was Finding Your Voice and Your Power.
Towards the end of the talk, one of the women raised her hand and asked - how do you ever reach a point where you don’t have to be in control, where you don’t have to have the power. Such a good question! As we become more self aware, understand the “stories” and experiences that are influencing our actions, things shift. Power looks different. We truly understand that the only power and control we have is over ourselves.
The next question gave me an opportunity to explain more. There was another woman who had a difficult client that never met deadlines. She was supposed to call and check in, but had been putting it off for days because she knew what the outcome of the call was going to be. In this situation she had completely given away her power. She was so invested in the outcome of the conversation that she was letting it control her day. When she thought about making the call, she felt a pit in her stomach. So, by not making the call she lived with that pit in her stomach for days. She made other decisions with that pit in her stomach. She went home and tried to relax with that pit in her stomach. Until she made that call, it wasn’t going away. Her client had all of the power.
So, how does this scenario look different? We start with the 3 main tools we use in this self awareness work - pausing, breathing, and checking in with our bodies. She shows up to the office, goes to her desk, and does these three steps. She becomes aware of the control this call has on her, and tunes in to herself. This isn’t really about her at all. She is holding up her end of the bargain and doing everything she is supposed to do. This feeling is completely based on the actions of her client. So, sitting and pausing she lets it settle in that her power isn’t impacted by the client, it is impacted by her ability to stand in integrity and her skills. So, she picks up the phone from a place of confidence and peace, places the call, and is no longer tied to the response from her clients. She has taken back her power. It looks different and will continue to shift as she takes these steps and becomes more self aware.
Back to the original question, how do you ever reach a point where you don’t have to be in control. The answer is simple. As you become more self aware, you no longer need to be in control of others. As you show yourself more compassion, you increase your capacity to give it to others as well. You recognize that you actually feel more powerful when you know at your core that you are only responsible for your own actions. You stand taller, stronger, and more confident. You don’t give away your power. And as you do this work, I challenge anyone to try and take it from you!
I have a dream where everyone on the planet has an opportunity to taste what this feels like. When we find our power, our center, we become more empathetic, more compassionate, and less tied to the actions of others. We can see that everyone has their stories, and not let our egos see ourselves in what they are trying to communicate. This is my dream for a world of peaceful warriors.