Sorry to lay this on you, but most of us live in some form of self-slavery.
We are slaves to our work. Slaves to our hobbies. Slaves to our passions. And for sure, slaves to our habits. Anything that compels us to act in a certain way, even when we know it’s not good for us, is our master, and we are its slave.
I’m not talking about the kind of slavery that physically subjugates people, such as the sex trade, or any indentured enterprise that keeps others subservient either physically or financially.
I’m talking about the kind of self-slavery that we give in to and that we could free ourselves from if we exercised some self-discipline to change our behavior.
Saying, “I don’t have a choice,” is pure-dee B.S. 90+% of the time. I’m leaving a little wiggle room here. I personally cannot think of a situation in my entire life when I did something contrary to my best interest that I did not have a choice to do otherwise.
Rule #1 of INPowerment. I always have a choice.
You might not like the consequences of it, but you usually always have one. It just takes the discipline to make it.
is the the sum total of all the choices I made throughout my life that has brought me to this place and time. Fortunately, I’ve made some good choices. And I’ve also made some doozies that, for the grace of God and the kindness and compassion of friends and strangers, worked out better for me than, by all rights, they should have.
The self-discipline of making better choices might have meant that I would have avoided some of the pain and heartache I both suffered and inflicted.
is just the inner strength to show up and do the right thing, even when you don’t want to or don’t feel like it.
Learn the freedom that
comes from self-discipline
and choose to
You exploded into this world with a voice and something to say. You had needs, and you wanted them to be met, NOW!
Nothing has changed,except that some–too many–have forgotten how to speak up for themselves. Why?
I think there are three primary reasons some have lost their voice:
- They were told they had no right to speak.
- They were made to think they had nothing worth saying.
- They were intimidated into silence.
All are the tools of tyrants and bullies who want only their voice to be heard. They don’t care what you have to say, and they don’t want anyone else to hear it either.
But because you have the spirit of INPowerment, you have permission to speak. As a citizen of the United States of America, that right is constitutionally guaranteed. As a citizen of the universe, that right is unalienable.
It is worth saying solely because you have a need to express it. Your opinion is your take on the world as you understand it. Some of the most important breakthrough ideas were offered by someone who under valued their ideas. DO CENSOR YOURSELF. Offer your ideas and thoughts. Your idea or opinion might be the stepping stone to a breakthrough as your ideas challenge others to think in new ways.
Intimidation is a mind game. The tyrant gets inside your head and convinces you through threats, humiliation, belittlement, and other means that you are inconsequential. They shout you down and hover over you demanding your silence or acquiescence.
Where would we be today if our nation’s founding fathers and mothers had kept their silence? Where would we be today if freedom fighters and suffragettes had kept their silence? Where would we be today if spiritual leaders had cowered in the face of religious tyranny?
You must speak, especially in the face of intimidation.
You have permission to speak.
You have permission to
I stood on the edge of the dance floor awaiting instructions from the dance leader, anxious to impress my date–an accomplished dancer. My mouth was dry, my palms sweaty, my knees locked.
On my side, the gents lined up shoulder to shoulder. Facing us from the other side, the ladies. Behind the ladies, Carol sat among the tables surrounding the dance floor.
Truth as I saw it
Carol and her dance instructor had just performed a routine at the showcase to which she had invited me. They were amazing. They had trophies to prove it.
“Ok, everyone, it’s time to get sociable,” the dance leader began. ” When you get to the front of the line, gents, introduce yourself to the lady facing you and dance her down the floor. We’ll be doing a two-step. Have fun.”
Fun?! Crap! I had never done a two-step in my life. Personal humiliation in front of a room full of dancers was not my idea of fun.
The resonate baritone country and western vocal swelled over the crowd. The first couple stepped out between the facing lines. The ladies were already dancing in place, moving toward the head of the line. They expected to be shown a good time.
A quick line count to my right. I estimated I had about thirty seconds before total humiliation.
So, I did the only thing I could think of.
I scooted backward, slowly, out of the line, drawing minimal attention to myself. I gazed at the floor, thinking if I didn’t look anyone in the eye, they wouldn’t see me slinking into the shadows.
I watched from a dark corner near an exit. What I saw horrified me.
Many of the gents could barely walk in time to the music, much less two-step. The ladies didn’t mind. They were laughing and dancing and having a blast. Had I given in to a false fear?
I snuck out the back door.
Shamed, I considered just leaving. But I made my way around the hallway and reappeared at Carol’s table just as the dance was ending. I slid quietly into the chair next to her.
“I wondered where you went. I thought you were going to dance in the mixer,” she chirped.
“Er, uh . . . I was, but a stomach cramp hit me. Had to go to the restroom. Must have been something I ate,” was my excuse.
“Oh. Well then, there’ll be another dance later. Maybe you’ll be over it by then.”
But I couldn’t lie to myself. I let fear make the choice.
A better way
Fear compels us to run away from possible harm in whatever form we perceive it. To survive, the brain is programmed to treat all threats as real, just in case. Act first, think later it warns.
In this case, the only fear I faced was the fear I conjured up in my imagination.
I resolved at that moment, that I would never let fear make my choices again. My new strategy: fear stirs -> automatic reaction -> think and evaluate -> choose to adjust behavior and follow through.
I have kept my word to myself because I intend to
We have this innate desire to impact our world, to make a difference. This is not the same as wanting to rule the world. It’s better.
The very nature of INPowerment is to make things better. The INPowered see what needs to be done. Then, they take action. Within that description there are three simple habits you can develop the will make you a person of impact.
Pay attention to what can be better
Anytime people are not getting what they need, want, or expect they have a problem that needs a solution. They are also in some form of conflict from mild annoyance to full blown panic.
It is easy to notice the panic, because people are acting out in exaggerated and dysfunctional ways. The mild annoyances and irritations are not so obvious. For example:
- A procedure is a little more awkward than it should be and doesn’t get the quality result it should, but it’s almost good enough.
- A room or office space is cluttered and poorly arranged, making items difficult to find when needed.
- A co-worker is unsure of their skills and is hesitant to ask for help.
Paying attention pushes you out of your own private chamber where you are so internally focused that you are oblivious to the needs and circumstances of others. In contrast, being totally self-absorbed is one sure of way of having no impact.
Engage others in finding a solution
Solving all the problems on your own is another way of having limited or no impact. True, some pacesetters and inventors work individually on a device or invention that changes the world. However, that’s the exception and not the rule.
Everyday impact is when you involve others in solution finding. You help them grow their sense of value. Their input is needed and welcome. They contribute.
They see you as a partner in their growth. They got better because you involved them and gave them an opportunity to be more valuable. They are more likely to do likewise when it’s their turn to engage others. Your impact ripples far beyond your direct involvement.
Act and follow through
Actions speak. When you are known as a go to person, you have impact. Talk is cheap; action creates value.
End each day with your “to do” list checked off. I often ask myself before retiring to bed, “What did I get done today the moved me closer to accomplishing my goals?” Then I ask, “What must I accomplish tomorrow to move me closer to my goals?” Then, I work to stay on task and avoid distractions.
Work on making these three steps your everyday habits.
You will be a person of impact.
You will make a difference.
You will be
Risk can be paralyzing. No one wants to fail and face the bad consequences they fear will follow. INPowering leaders understand that their main job is to help others improve their circumstances with little or no apprehension.
Risk is a (mis)perception
First of all, risk is often overblown in our mind. Fear is rooted in our survival instincts–it works on us at the subconscious level. We avoid the things or situations where we might be physically harmed.
Yet, millions overcome those fears and thrive in the face of them. The top two phobias of humans are the fear of spiders and the fear of snakes. However, not everyone shares those fears. Many learn to overcome them. The same is true of all phobias. How do they do it?
4 steps to overcoming fears
INPowering leaders help others through these four steps of overcoming fear.
- Face the fear. Admit your real reasons behind the fear. Sometimes we don’t really know why we fear things. Bringing that fear to conscious awareness gets the ball rolling to deal with it. Usually we are afraid of looking foolish. Once I got past that, I’ve learned a lot of fun and wonderful things that have brought me joy and good times: dancing and riding rollercoasters being two of them.
- Get clear on the facts. Understand the real situation about the fear. Take spiders and snakes, for instance. Sometimes, right on. Other times, a misperception of the reality. Deaths worldwide from toxic spider bites are extremely rare. The same is true for snakes. Eighty percent of all snake species are not venomous. Yet, most of us would say, “The only good snake is a dead snake.”
- Reprogram. Once we get clear about the true facts of our fears, we can relearn the truth and deal with it. Sometimes my fear stems from not knowing how to do something. I can learn how, and I take it one step at a time.
- Practice. I grow my comfort zone bit by bit through knowledge and practice. Before I know it, I’m very comfortable with something that once scared me.
How INPowering leaders build others
A leader is someone who helps others go places they either cannot or will not go by themselves. An INPowering leader is
- Focused on helping others learn their way forward.
- Sympathetic with other’s apprehensions.
- Respect the pace at which others need to learn, and
- Continually encourage progress, no matter how small.
When you help others overcome the anxieties that hold them back,
you help them to become INPowered,
and you demonstrate why you are
Your life is your one true work of art. The purpose of your work is to reflect the spirit of its source–you.
I’ve always been attracted to art in which I can see something of the artist as well as explore something of myself. I like uniqueness. I tend to walk past the same ‘ole, same ‘ole.
The copycat is never as interesting to me as the original cat.
We are all born originals. Even identical twins are still two different individuals. Hang around them long enough and you can tell them apart.
The people who get our attention are those who let their life-art project the world according to them. They are not asking you to accept their world. They are saying, “This is my world. This is my life.”
They get our attention.
We envy them.
We wish we could be so bold . . . so liberated . . . so ourselves.
So, why not?
Stop copycatting someone else. Be an original cat. In that originality, you will find your purpose, the spirit from which your life-art springs.
Whatever it is.
You are worth being you.
Then you will be free to see and experience and appreciate the life-art of everyone else.
And you will be
your true life.
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Will Richey, DaVerse Lounge founder
Will Richey says, “the power of our stories leave a great impact on one another.” I agree. His storytelling takes the form of poetry through which his spirit of leading shows.
In this episode of The Spirit of Leading, Will talks with me about his work helping us find voice in our creative expression. His life’s work is manifest through the DaVerse Lounge, a project that provides a forum for young voices to express original narratives through the spoken word.
The road to Deep Ellum in Dallas, TX involves Will’s quest to connect with the heart and soul of his mother’s Puerto Rican heritage. He wanted to hear her voice in a different way–through his own experiences. As he learned how to find that voice, and his own, through spoken word performances, he learned how to help others do the same.
Will shares credit with his partners, whose collaboration and support make his work possible. The DaVerse Lounge is housed within the Life in Deep Ellum Cultural Center, and his educational efforts are supported by Big Thought, an organization that brings creative programs to youth populations often left out.
The links below will give you more background into Will Richey’s story.
In this podcast, Will shares some of the lessons of leadership he learned in putting together a team of other artists who share the DaVerse Lounge stage with him. Combine his sense of INPowerment and his spirit of leading, and you can understand why his work is having such a profound impact.
See more about Will Richey and the DaVerse Lounge
Will Richey (right) shows Garland McWatters word art created at the DaVerse Lounge
Will’s website Journeyman Ink
DaVerse Lounge at TEDx SMU 2013 see the video
“Push the Envelope” featuring Will Richey, presents at Oral Fixation
Alejandro Perez, Jr. of Melody Memories, Facebook page
Live artist, David Rodriguez of Dr Gorilla Studio
Life in Deep Ellum, learn about it here
Big Thought, learn more
The language of leadership gives us insight into the leader’s heart and soul. It’s not only what a leader says, but the way they say it, that gives us that insight.
Effective, resonant leaders express a vision and build confidence in us that we can be successful. After all, we are looking for leaders who help us go places we cannot or will not go by ourselves. They speak in ways that encourage us, enliven us, enlighten us and enlarge our expectations of what’s possible.
INPowering leaders get inside our heads and hearts to inspire us to make things better for ourselves and others. I have taken the liberty to restyle the terms I use to depict how such leaders affect us on the inside. They . . .
- INCourage us,
- INLiven us,
- INLighten us, and
- INLarge us.
Their language INCourages the spirit
An INPowering leader’s language is absent of coercive scare tactics. INCouragement is affirmation in the face of trials and uncertainty. Resonant leaders spur us on in the face of disappointment and self-doubt by reminding us of our capabilities.
They embolden and strengthen us by their positive, can-do perspectives. INPowering leaders do not see the disheartened as weak and pitiful. They see us as fully capable individuals who just need to be reminded and reassured of our hopes and dreams.
As they INCourage the spirit, INPowering leaders show understanding, patience, compassion and forgiveness.
Their language INLivens the heart
INPowering leaders invigorate us. Their enthusiasm breeds in us an infectious energy. And when we unleash it we can change the course of history.
They make us feel alive and relevant. They speak to us of joy and remind us of our innate value as a human.
Their stories entertain as well as teach. They find the humor in the face of distressing circumstances and remind us, even though times are serious, not to take ourselves too seriously.
Their subtle flair and understated truisms catch us by surprise, amuse us, and redirect our minds and spirits toward endeavors greater than ourselves. They lift us–frowns to smiles, stumbling to running, melancholy to majestic.
Their language INLightens the mind
INPowering leaders are truth-seekers and truth-tellers. They are wide-eyed and thirst for knowledge. Then, they share their knowledge and understanding to provoke in us the same brand of curiosity and a quest for insight that they have.
INPowering leaders use knowledge honestly for the greater common good. They seek clarity and scrutinize information for its fidelity and context. They believe that information is the life blood of relationships and communities, and they are not afraid for us to know what they know.
To a leader, a higher standard of living is more than economics–more than just having more. It’s being more and being INLightened to know the difference.
INPowering leaders understand applied knowledge begets wisdom. And when we are wise, we are more fully capable human beings intellectually, emotionally and spiritually–living more abundantly.
Their language INLarges our expectations of living
The language of leadership challenges us to envision a future of possibilities for ourselves and others in all our relationships. It is a value-seeking and value-creating language.
INPowering leaders INLarge our expectations by painting a word picture of a future we desire, then placing us squarely in it. They draw our attention to the horizon, then challenge us to move beyond it.
They show us how we can broaden our network of relationships. They help us connect with people whom we might have considered unreachable.
INPowering leaders teach us to live as if there were no walls to box us in. They remind us that we shape our own world instead of being shaped by someone else’s idea of who we are supposed to be.
INPowering leaders make us feel purposeful, relevant, powerful, and inherently valuable as a person.
Their language reveals their nature
Listen to those who desire to lead us. Does their language speak to your higher nature? Do they speak the language of leadership?
Listen intently, and you will hear
whether they are