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Take Back Your Personal Power (Part 2)

Take Back Your Personal Power (Part 2)

Take Back Your Personal Power

    Time to Make Waves

    In part one of this post we discussed the tendency some of us have to allow situations, circumstances, events and even other people to control our lives; in essence, giving away our power in an attempt to be accepted, valued, appreciated and loved. By trying to “fit in and not make waves” (as someone shared with me recently) it seems that some of us have lost our identity and sense of self. The good news is that we can take back control of our life and still be that kind, generous and thoughtful person – who also happens to be strong, confident, assertive, productive, successful and powerful. And no, we don’t need to compromise our beliefs, goals, character or core values to do so. In fact, taking back our power can be the most important step towards living a life of true purpose, alignment (with our core values), integrity and joy.

    While the following strategies are very effective, they are not always comfortable or easy to implement, so it’s a good thing that you and I are all about doing what works – not what’s easy! Not every point will be relevant for every person, so see what resonates for you. Also be warned that I may be a little… er… blunt in places (surprising, I know), so if you’re feeling a bit presh you may wanna read from behind a cushion (like in a scary movie). Enjoy.

    1. Stop looking for easy and start “doing” effective. Today.

    All too often our desire to live a comfortable, painless, easy and safe existence (all things driven by fear) is the very thing that kills our potential, our productivity, our ability to develop and ultimately, our spirit. It is no coincidence that we (the society) have both (1) a widespread aversion to anything that makes us uncomfortable and (2) a high percentage of people who regularly feel frustrated, unfulfilled, lost and miserable. Ironically, it is our aversion to working against resistance that stops us from growing, learning, evolving and adapting. Sometimes (in the moment) we believe it’s simply easier to just “fit in”, to compromise and to bite our tongue. While this is understandable on occasion, over the long term this kind of behaviour and thinking will set us up for unhealthy relationships, stagnation, disconnection, frustration, desperation and misery. In order to take back your power you will need to be courageous (that’s a choice by the way), you will need to be prepared to get uncomfortable (that’s where you learn, grow and adapt) and you will need to do things that may piss other people off – perhaps the ones who previously pulled your strings for their own gain.

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    2. Face your fears.

    You can never take back your power until you confront the things that scare you. By the way, being fearful does not represent weakness but rather humanity.

    “Show me the person who fears nothing and I’ll show you an idiot.”

    *There’s also an argument that the person who fears nothing might also be the person who has reached enlightenment… but that’s a discussion for another day.

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    If things only have the power and influence that we assign them (and they do), then fear is something we can control and use for our own personal development. For the most part fear is a completely personal thing. It’s not about the situation, circumstance or environment but rather US in it; how we react to, process, cope with and interpret the events in our world. That’s why we can see two people doing the exact same thing at the same time (a bungee jump for example); one is excited and having a great time, while the other is terrified and having the worst time ever. That’s because it ain’t about the jump; it’s about the jumper. Keeping in mind that each jumper creates his or her own reality. Of course there are healthy fears – not wanting to swim with a shark for example – but what we’re talking about here are those destructive and unhealthy fears that have been known to make people prisoners of their own mind. For a lifetime.

    3. When nice isn’t. (Nice)

    Seek to be strong not nice. Too many nice people get chewed up and spat out because all they have is a bunch of “nice-ness” and zero personal power. Sometimes nice-ness is actually a euphemism for weakness and far too often our need to be seen as the “nice person” (oh, please) is what brings us undone. Endeavouring to keep everyone in your world happy is an exercise in futility, frustration and exhaustion. And stupidity. In short, it can’t be done. It’s not your job to “make” people happy; it’s your job to be you. And not the “you” that people want you to be, but rather, your authentic self. The one who has clarity, certainty, contentment and calm about who and what they are. And no, being you does not mean being selfish.

    4. Stop being a victim.

    The world isn’t fair. The majority don’t care about you or your issues. S**t happens. Bad things happen to good people. And lots of people are selfish and nasty. There — we’ve cleared that up. Now, stop seeking pity, attention and sympathy and get on with it. Stop having the same pointless discussions about the same issues, stop waiting to be “saved” and stop giving away your power. You don’t need universal approval, acceptance or endorsement, you need a different attitude.

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    5. Win respect through your actions.

    Talk less, do more. What you do will tell the rest of us far more about who you are than any words that might come out of your mouth. Words are cheap and often meaningless. Most big talkers are just that. And nothing more.

    6. Keep re-inventing yourself.

    Being stagnant and inflexible in a dynamic world is a sure-fire way to become redundant, unnecessary and powerless. While your core values, beliefs and standards might remain constant, it is important that you continue to adapt, learn, grow and develop with your ever-changing world.

    7. Value yourself.

    Stop treating others as though they are of greater worth than you. Nobody is more important than anyone else. And nobody is more important than you. Nobody. This is not about having a massive ego or being self-righteous; it’s about stopping all the self-sabotage. You know what I mean. It’s about not rationalising mediocrity and failure any more. It’s about changing your standards and your thinking. It’s about not letting your poor self-esteem get in the way of your potential and your possibilities. It’s about not letting your past become your future. In case you don’t know or you haven’t been told, I will tell you now; you are worthy, you are talented, you are good enough and you are powerful. More than you know. If you don’t believe those words then you don’t value yourself as you should.

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    *By the way, power and humility can go comfortably hand in hand.

    8. Fiercely protect your brand.

    Don’t associate with people, organisations, situations or products that will damage your reputation. In the professional world (where many of us spend a great deal of our lives) your brand is your power. The stronger your brand, the more power you have (in that world). Prospective employers, potential business associates and customers will all “buy what you’re selling” based largely (if not solely) on their perception of you; your product, your service, your ability, your skill, your integrity and your value to them.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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