"Empowerment isn't a buzzword among leadership gurus. It's a proven technique where leaders give their teams the appropriate training, tools, resources, and guidance to succeed." John Rampton
Every single person we meet gives us the opportunity to demonstrate kindness towards another human being. Each and every day we pass by droves of people, and the few we do interact with either get to be the beneficiaries of us at our best or experience us at our less than best. That opportunity to show empathy, compassion, and benevolence to another being though is one that we should not take for granted. Those fleeting moments where we have the chance to connect are what we all seek. It's in that minutiae that we have the opportunity to do something awe-inspiring. We get to do some empowerment. We get to deposit encouragement. We get to speak truth and power into the lives of other people. We get to validate, appreciate, and celebrate who other people are. We get to make moments that people won't soon forget.
I went to a professional conference for educators in the field of orientation, transition, and retention. It was through my experience there connecting with others, and some of the feedback the students I get to work with and my co-workers brought up, that I gained a better understanding of what it is I do, and what makes it special. I believe wholeheartedly that the purpose of life and us being here, existing in this time, space, and place, is to find our purpose, identify our gifts and talents, and then use all those things to change the word - or at least our worlds. What I mean is to say is it is up to us and those around us to figure out where we thrive, when we are at our best, and what brings us fulfillment. For me, broadly I would say that I have a passion for people but more specifically storytelling. I absolutely love telling a captivating story, and through that narrative teaching and/or learning at the same time. It's through storytelling whether that be this blog, my conversations, or photography, etc. that I feel that perfect balance of challenge and support. It's where I'm both comfortable and uncomfortable. It's how I get to impact the world around me, for the better. Now, more than ever I see the ways in which me being purposeful, bold, and authentic in my storytelling encourages others to do the same. And that empowerment that I am able to cultivate in the people around me is profound.
Empowerment is about helping people help themselves. I don't believe for a second that I just arrived where I am, and who I am. I know and have been intentional in expressing gratitude for all the contexts, experiences, and interactions that brought me to where I am - good, bad, or anything in between. It's because of all the people who supported me, and even those who opposed me that I learned what I know now, and have been emboldened to keep learning. It's because of what I have been through - and that phrasing is meaningful there (because it was transient not permanent) - that I know that I must, I have to, I am obligated to help others get to a place, be the person they want, be able to perform in the ways that they want. Empowerment is seeing who people are through individualization, projecting their potential, and then teaching them how to make their way there. It's not just giving people tools, but teaching them how to use those tools, and most of all, where to find said tools, so that they can self-sufficient just as often as they are interdependent. It's giving guidance and uplifting until a person is able to do that for themselves, by themselves. It's that self-efficacy. It's that self-actualization. It's that self-actualization that is not situational, conditional, or dependent on others or circumstances but rather comes from within. I want people to get what they need for themselves, from themselves. I want to be replaced. I want to be unnecessary. I want to create a movement, and get people to be able to do with even more people what I have learned to do.
I am an amalgamation of everything and everyone that has come into my life, and even those who have operated outside of it. Taking into consideration all that has been sent my way is something I have practiced doing. It's keeping perspective, and understanding not just my power but my impact that makes me a force for change. I want people to leave my presence, exit a conversation with me, hell - depart from my life, never to be heard from again, and be changed for the better because of their time with me. I too, want receive that from them in return. In my work I'm tasked with doing these tangible things, completing tasks, making things happen, but for me, my real work, the work that matters, the work that keeps me getting up, showing up, and bringing my all to what I get to do, happens with people. I get to help people see what I see in them. I get to remind people of who they are, and give them a glimpse of who they can be. I get to help people change their own lives. I get to aid them in getting what they need to be successful, and to define what success means for them. I get to make people feel good about themselves, see the love that surrounds them, and reveal to them the power that has been with them - and how to use it. I get to shine light into the lives of other people, and they get to do that for even more people. I get to do work that makes me feel accomplished. I get to create change, dynamic, personal, intimate, life-shifting - change. That is a gift. One that I cherish as much I can.
People share with me much of their lives and the things they don't share with others, and I think it's because I open myself up to receiving those things, I strive to create an environment where people feel prepared to do so, and then I role model doing so. People tell me that they want to be like me and I stop them, and remind them that this is me and how I do things, but what they want for themselves is and must be different. We are all capable of things beyond our wildest dreams. We are more than we know. We are grander than we realize. Sometimes, not always - just sometimes, our biggest limiting factor can be we ourselves. If we are able to understand that, take action to change that, and let that perspective shift do its work - the world, our world, our lives can be radically different. We get to determine who we are. We get to love ourselves and our stories. We get to be all that we strive to be. Help yourself, save yourself, be yourself ... and give all that you can to allow others to do the same. Empowerment is a courageous gift that we can easily give.
Tell people how you feel about them; tell people that you appreciate them and be specific, show people a different way of doing, communicating, or processing; share with others what you hope for them; give your perspective on what you see ahead for them; ask the questions that matter; give space and time for people to be vulnerable and authentic with you; help people help themselves; know when you are no longer needed; name things you notice and know when your work is "done." Empowerment is for all and for all to be themselves. X