Get Empowered to Stand Firmly As Your Best Self


If I told you that a year ago I started working out with a personal fitness trainer, you’d probably give a nod to my discipline.

If I told you that a year ago our company started working with an expert consultant on innovation, you’d presumably think we were staying ahead of the curve.

If I told you that a year ago my wife and I started working with a marriage counselor, you might be concerned about us or surprised that I’d publicly mention it.

Doesn’t that seem inconsistent?

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The truth is, we all need greater empowerment in our relationships as much as we do in our fitness, at work and many other areas of life. And through the help of others, we can learn to step up.

Empowerment means that someone doesn’t need to continually nudge and remind you where and how you need to step up; you become capable of doing it on your own. You take responsibility for your actions and adjust your behavior to achieve the results you desire.

That’s what I want—for myself, my family, my workplace and our community.

Over the course of 15 years of marriage, there have been a few areas where I haven’t consistently stepped up. I’ve relied on Kari to pick up the slack and prompt me when needed. I had been making excuses about it—I’m not perfect, certain behavior is difficult for me—but those excuses were getting old. So I set out to work on these areas over the past year.

And now, I’m empowered to be a more capable person.

The Snowball Effect of Positive Results

Early on in my work with the counselor, when I started to realize where I wasn’t stepping up, I felt defeated. But gradually, I began applying the coaching and noticed that it was having a positive effect. In fact, my confidence started to increase as I took greater responsibility for my actions, which led to positive results.

This progressive evolution is what is referred to in Dale Carnegie’s leadership training as the Empowerment Cycle. After you become aware of the need for greater empowerment in an area of life, this simple four-step sequence can help you get there:

  1. Self-Confidence. Employee engagement research suggests that self-confidence is the first pre-requisite to empowerment. To be empowered, you must first trust yourself. It wasn’t until I started to see that I was capable and able to get better results from my efforts that I started to build self-confidence. Success breeds a success mindset.
  2. Self-Direction. The second step toward empowerment is being intentional. It’s about pursuing and maintaining a picture of your ideal self. This picture directs you toward the outcomes that you are working to achieve. Without intention, there is no progress.
  3. Self-Evaluation. The third step is to monitor your actions and interactions to determine how they compare with your ideal. This requires full awareness and honesty to be able to acknowledge shortcomings in a healthy and productive way. For me, a counselor (or coach) was necessary because my behavior was so ingrained that I couldn’t always see where I needed to step up.
  4. Self-Correction. The final step is to make adjustments. None of us is perfect, but we all have the ability to change. And changes can be made in real time in the moment. It’s empowering to arrive at the point where you can see the need to step up and then make the difficult choice to finally do it. Making course corrections on your own volition is the pinnacle of empowerment. To be empowered is to be full of the power to change.

What area of your life deserves to have you step up? Is it your health, your work, your relationships or perhaps something else? Try applying the Empowerment Cycle to your own situation. As the cycle progresses, you’ll discover that you’ll be increasingly equipped to stand firmly as your best self.

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