If you are a small business owner or have an entrepreneurial mindset, you believe to some degree in your ability to take effective action, do something and make a difference. This attitude or state of mind is your personal power. It is not how physically strong you feel, but how you use your knowledge, thoughts and feelings to act in a manner that gets your needs met in a positive way. When you have personal power, you have the capacity to access specific internal resources for utilising external resources and apply both to a specific challenge. You have the strength, confidence and competence to jump in and make things happen. You have the power to guide and plan your life.
Personal power is about the power you have over yourself. It is not about the power that you wish to have over others.
Over time your personal power is shaped by cultural, social and parental influences around you. These create layers of structure and conditioning that teach you how to blend and fit in. You unconsciously conform to what is ‘acceptable’. You are taught to keep your head down and be a ‘good person’. Your personal power is often repressed.
Personal power is the ability to change the direction of your life.
Cultivating personal power does not make your problems disappear, but allows you to handle difficult situations with greater resilience and gives you the courage to make choices based on your vision, values and knowledge, skills and experience.
6 ways to tap into your personal power
1. Be clear
Clarity is what you create for yourself. It is a decision. Whatever degree of clarity you are experiencing right now is what you’ve decided to create. Not deciding still counts as a decision. You have made the decision to remain uncertain. People with high levels of personal power are clear and focused on what is important. They know what they want to achieve and can describe it to others. They have clear goals and take deliberate actions.
- Commit yourself to a specific direction
- Feed your mind with inspirational and motivational material
- Think about your goals and the next actions you can take today
- Ask someone who’s clear about their path to assist you (but don’t give your power away to them – creating your path is your responsibility)
2. Be self-aware
Self-awareness is the mental ability to recognise who and what you are. With a good understanding of how you relate to others, you can adjust your behaviour so that you deal with them positively. By understanding what upsets you, you can improve your self-control. And by understanding your weaknesses, you can learn how to manage them and reach your goals despite them.
- Be honest with yourself
- Pay attention to frustrations – recognise and articulate the dissatisfaction you feel about something so you can then address it
- Reflect on a regular basis – considering why you were feeling a certain way or why you did something. Ask yourself questions such as ‘Why did/didn’t I succeed?’ and ‘What motivated me?’ To reflect means to look back at how something went in all of its available parts and patterns:
1. Causes and effects
2. Comparisons and contrast
3. Strengths and weakness
5. How close it came to expectations
6. Your emotions
3. Be enthusiastic
Enthusiasm is absolutely necessary if you ever want to accomplish anything of value. With enthusiasm, things get done as it provides the energy to drive you. Unfortunately, enthusiasm doesn’t come to you – it must be created. You need to take responsibility for creating your own enthusiasm by combining four simple elements: interest, knowledge, belief and motivation.
- Have a passion for what you are doing
- Be grateful for what you have
- Take away positive lessons out of seemingly bad situations
- Be realistic and understanding
4. Be empathetic
Empathy is awareness of others’ feelings, needs and concerns. Genuinely show that you care. This isn’t about you. It’s all about them. Listen intently when people speak to you. By being empathetic, you are demonstrating that you understand and respect their point of view.
- Practice active listening by paraphrasing what the other person says to show that you understand the content, reflect back your emotional reaction and indicate how your response makes you want to behave
- Pay attention to your surroundings and to the feelings, expressions, and actions of the people around you
- Tailor the way you interact with others to fit with their needs and feelings
5. Be a self-believer
Self-belief is confidence in yourself and your ability. You are what you believe. Your thinking is your reality. People with high levels of personal power believe in their vision and take deliberate action to make things happen. Self-belief gives you the freedom to make mistakes and cope with setbacks by seeing them for what they are: temporary setbacks, not the end of the world.
- Turn down the volume of the inner negative voice
- Stop looking for negative signs from others
- Instead of focusing on negative thoughts or complaints or problems, direct your attention toward what you can enjoy, and what you can enjoy in the present moment
- Acknowledge/develop your super powers – focus on are you are good at
- Recall your successes, big and small
6. Be a leader
Leaders help themselves and others to do the right things. They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to “win” as a team or a business; and it is dynamic, exciting, and inspiring.
- Be clear on your values
- Know and utilize your strengths
- Set goals and follow action plans
- Maintain a positive attitude
The problem for many people isn’t that they lack personal power. It is that they have accepted that they are powerless. Your own personal power is always available to you. You just have to choose to use it.