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A Receiving Revolution


I’m willing to bet that as a woman, you’re skilled in the art of giving.

You regularly give assistance, advice, empathy, and compassion.  You give your time and your resources, often without being asked.  You’re hard-wired for it.

And yet what happens when you’re suddenly a recipient?  How do you respond when someone offers you a compliment, or a gift, or a Yes?

Your inner dialogue may look something like this:

I don’t deserve this.  

I’m not ____________ enough, (or I’m not Enough, period).  

They’re going to find out that I’m a fraud.  (this is the hallmark of the Imposter Syndrome — which affects women in epic proportions)

And then you may say something aloud like : “Oh it was nothing.  Seriously.”  Or, “You shouldn’t have!”  Or, perhaps, “Are you kidding me?” 

But we all know that it WAS something — that you worked your tail off in order to achieve what you did.  You’re being gifted because someone sees in you a quality or an accomplishment worthy of acknowledging.  No, they’re not kidding.  And yet your reaction, if you’re with the majority of us women, is to shut the door to receiving.  You deflect the praise, or you hardly register it before you’re off to the next thing.

Since you don’t believe you earned it, you’re now going to overcompensate to be sure it doesn’t get taken away.  You fall into the destructive cycle of obsessively earning your keep – endlessly achieving new goals, not pausing for reflection or acknowledgement, for fear of falling to the back of the line.

What do you suppose is the price we’re paying for our failure to receive?

Receiving is an essential aspect of our personal power, and without it we run dry.  Receiving gratitude, praise and acknowledgement allows us to rest in our strength, to grow into it, and to consistently replenish it.  It’s how we build self-trust, self-compassion and self-esteem – all building blocks of power.

Turning off to it, or turning away from it, is how we diminish our power.

Take a moment to consider how comfortable you are  with appreciating yourself.  This means you giving yourself credit for what you have done, large or small.  It’s about taking pride in what you have just accomplished outwardly, as well as where you’re at internally.  It’s thanking yourself for the effort you have put into leading your life, at work and beyond.

I imagine this set of muscles might be a little underdeveloped.  Maybe it’s time to start a training program.  Better yet, a revolution.

Driving <-> Receiving

In the 12 Elements of Power ™ framework, Driving is the masculine complement to the feminine element of Receiving. They’re not mutually exclusive; these two are both needed in order for us to manage and use our power in a healthy way.  Taken together, they are how we get what we want.

Driving is exactly what it sounds like.  It’s the to-do list, the goals and the milestones.  It’s the motion, the action, the manifestation.  We drive at work as we drive in the rest of our lives.  Without driving, we’d simply sink to the bottom and stagnate.

But receiving is what enables us to drive.  It’s the fuel in our engine.  It’s the building and containing of our power, which we can then use out there in the world.  Receiving is the pause, the exhale, the suddenly-empty slate.  It’s the “done” list to Driving’s “to-do” list.

We want to consistently evaluate where we have overdone it, and where we have fallen short.  The end goal is a seamless back and forth between Driving and Receiving, between doing and being.  It’s all about integration.

Integrated driving and receiving might look like:

  • An ability to smile and say Thank You
  • Willingness to press the Off button when you’ve done enough
  • Deep acceptance of your gifts and strengths
  • Inside-out goal setting
  • Demonstrated receipt of outside assistance and support
  • A system that includes regular pauses for acknowledgement

Most of us have learned how to drive; we’re masters of survival, and we can “get ‘er done”.  But we’re ready to move beyond the old paradigm, and into a more sustainable and fulfilling way of leading.  It may not be comfortable, but now’s the time to rewire our brains in order to become adept at receiving.  Our fulfillment depends on it.  It starts with a receiving revolution.  It begins with you.

What if, as you shut down your computer at the end of the day, you ask yourself:

  • What did I rock today?
  • What will I thank myself for?
  • What am I proud of?

And then, in that way you typically reserve for your kids or your colleagues, you acknowledge yourself.  You honor your efforts, you call out your genius, you recognize your contribution.  And most important of all, you pause long enough to really receive this gift.

I’m willing to bet that this small shift will change your life in not-so-small ways.  And I can’t wait to see what happens when we get this revolution into full swing.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • John Hare April 30, 2014, 7:48 pm

    Thank you! Very well stated! As you can see from my name, I am a man, and your article really speaks to me. I have recently retired from a position I held for 30 years and I am in the process of giving myself permission to pursue something entirely different than what I used to do!

    • Amy May 2, 2014, 7:06 pm

      Hi John,
      Thanks so much for your comment. I love that you’re giving yourself permission for this new direction! I hope you allow yourself to receive what you need for the journey. Best, Amy