5 Ways You Give Away Your Power

My first coaching client was a disaster.

Half the time, Rick would email me minutes before our scheduled time – or even the day after – to “inform” me that we needed to reschedule.

With “grrrr” running through my mind, I’d remind him of my cancellation policy, but I’d still offer another time.

Finally we (yes, both of us) escalated to the “are-you-out-of-your-freaking-mind?!” level.

I was in the middle of a conference exhibit hall in San Francisco when Rick called. He was in the midst of a huge work crisis, was so sorry to bother me, but pleaded, “This is crucially important and I really need your help to think it through.”

It makes me cringe to say this, but I agreed to walk fifteen minutes back to my hotel room and call him back. (Was I out of my freaking mind?!)

Sometimes the universe (in the form of a client, colleague, boss, friend, partner, or whomever) gives us a whack to help us learn a needed lesson.

When I called, exactly when promised, his wife answered and said, “Rick is reading to the girls and said he’d call you in the morning.”

Was he out of his freaking mind?

That’s not what came out of my mouth.

But I was furious. For five minutes I ranted and raved at the walls of my hotel room.

Then it dawned on me.

Rick hadn’t caused the problem. I had.

My powerful self hadn’t been seen in months. And I hadn’t noticed she was missing.

I’m not the first person who’s shown up powerless, and I won’t be the last. No one does it intentionally, yet it happens.

Here are five key reasons our powerful selves slip out the door. (I’d managed to hit two of the five.)

1.  Listening to negative internal chatter.

The monkeys had taken up residence in my head, yammering on about what I should, shouldn’t, couldn’t, and needed to do.

And for a while I believed them.

I needed to prove I was a good coach. I shouldn’t rock the boat and risk losing my first coaching client. I had to create a good experience for him.

In my post-rant clarity, I stopped taking advice from the monkeys. What a relief!

When you act on your own negative thinking, you send a message to the universe, yourself, and everyone in your orbit that you don’t deserve better.

2.  Being attached.

Attachment means hanging on to how-to, details, or specific outcomes with a death grip.

I was so attached to my first coaching client having a great experience that I passively tolerated behavior that wasn’t okay.

Attachment sets you up for frustration and misery. You’re not running the universe (darn!), and things don’t always go as you planned or hoped.

It’s human nature to care. And you can still be deeply committed to your goals and intentions. Just hold them lightly, with an open hand, and trust that you’ll be fine whatever happens.

3.  Comparing yourself to others.

Well of course he/she can/doesn’t have to … is smarter … not as smart … has more money … has less to lose … has more experience … has less experience … is older … younger … has connections … [fill in your favorite comparison].

Comparisons are useless and keep you stuck. Whoever “they” are, they are not you, and you are not them.

Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus your energy on being your own most powerful self. You’ll get a better return on your energy investment than you’ll ever get from an inevitably-flawed analysis of how you’re stacking up against anyone else.

4.  Asking what everyone else thinks.

It’s smart to consult with people you trust when you’re struggling with a major decision or a thorny challenge. But when seeking votes becomes a way of abdicating responsibility for your choices, you’ve relinquished your power.

Your life is not a democracy. Ultimately you know best what’s right for you. That information lives in your intellect and in your heart. Take a breath and listen.

5.  Powerless language.

Banish can’t and have to from your vocabulary. 99% of the time you can and you don’t have to. You are, after all, a grown-up ;-).

Replace can’t and have to with I choose. That’s the language of power.

Next time you’re feeling frustrated, disgruntled, or convinced you can’t create the life you want, it might just be that you’ve unintentionally given away your power.

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” ~ Lao-Tzu~


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