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Are You More Comfortable Driving or Receiving?


In my coach training program, we learned that transformative change is a two-part process: part one is deepening the learning, and part two is forwarding the action.

When we get clear about what we want (the root of all change), and we stop making excuses about why we can’t have or do it (a classic fear tactic – most of us have got this one down!), the time is ripe for empowered action. 

Empowered action is initiating change from the inside-out.  As we unfurl, we take empowered action again and again.  This is the exhilarating, rewarding part of the unfurling journey.  This is where we get down to walking our talk.

Using both sides of the same coin

Power is the juice that fuels action.  And real, authentic power might be different from what you’ve understood it to be.

Michele Lisenbury Christensen’s 12 Elements of Power * is a framework that reminds us that power is an integration of masculine and feminine energies.  We have access to both, regardless of our sex, and we choose how to use these energies.

(Key word here : choose.  We’re completely at choice as to how we use our power.)

The 12 Elements of Power are 6 pairs of complementary attributes that lead to satisfying life and work.  They relate to how we live our lives: how we define ourselves, how we get what we want, how we overcome challenges, how we relate to others, and how we make decisions.

In other words, how we use our power. 

The 12 Elements of Power 

Driving  /  Receiving

Connection  /  Self-Reliance

Nurturing  /  Providing

Sensuality  /  Pragmatism

Resilience  /  Fierceness 

Holism  /  Focus

Having the 12 elements in balance is key to taking empowered action. 

If you’re like some of my high-achieving clients, you took on an extra helping of the masculine in order to get what you thought you wanted in your career.  You became a Driver, behaving much like your male counterparts – you honed your ability to be directive, bold and acquisitive.  You prioritized strategy over resonance, and you may have generated some impressive results.

The problem is that leaning too heavily into the masculine – the Driving – is depleting and ultimately unsustainable.  You’ll burn out.  And being a lone wolf shuts down our ability to receive, to collaborate, and – perhaps most important — to learn.  When we’re focused exclusively on the outcome we disconnect from all that is available to us along the way.  We wind up bone-dry, dispirited and exhausted.

The flip side of the coin is Receiving.  This is the feminine energy associated with getting what we want.  It’s what happens when we cultivate gratitude, we allow others to give to us, we operate from our intuition – Receiving is the conduit that allows for input.

Receiving comes easily to those women who identify more readily with traditionally female ways of being; those who talk with rather than talk at, those who nurture and support others, those who prioritize intuition over reason.  Thankfully there are emerging women leaders modeling this in business.  We’ll be seeing more of it in our female AND our male leaders.     

But just like overuse of Driving, distortion happens when we overuse the element of Receiving.  We become passive, stagnant or stuck.  We don’t take action, even when we’re crystal clear about what we want.  Our gifts aren’t shared with the world.  We lose faith in ourselves because we offer no proof that we can walk our talk. 

Bringing it into balance

Whether you’re more comfortable Driving or Receiving, you’ve got to integrate the two in order for your unfurling to take shape.  Empowered action is the result of your ability to dial up or down the elements until you feel the natural balance of their integration.

Dialing up Driving means taking the vision you have grown and nurtured to the next level.  Ask for the raise, pitch the investors, find the couples therapist or the divorce attorney.  Buy the canvas, enroll in the course, launch the offering, or get the Kickstarter underway.  Whatever it takes, do it.

Dialing up Receiving looks like stepping back, taking a breath and opening the door.  Allow for a 360 review.  Have a date night and bare your heart.  Take a solo retreat weekend and fill a journal with your questions.  Meditate.  Invite your beloveds to share their ideas on your Grand Plan.

You’ll know which Element is out of whack by simply inquiring – it’ll make itself painfully obvious to you.  The good news is this: bringing your awareness to it is 98% of the work.  What’s on you next is finding a way to stop fueling the imbalance, which feels a lot like clearing away the branches that are blocking you from unfurling.

What about you?  Where do you find yourself overusing one of the Elements?  What’s the impact of that?  How could you do things differently? 


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  • Otiti August 27, 2013, 5:03 pm

    Amazing how I always read exactly what I need to hear each time I visit your site, Amy. I’ve been pushing a lot lately and going full speed ahead for so long that I can’t even hear myself think anymore.

    I’ve already decided to go on a digital hiatus all of next month, and reading this post shows me just how badly I need to ease up on myself and slow down.

    I think we fight against taking time out to decompress and integrate all we learn because we feel we have to keep moving forward at all times. Like there’s a race we run each time we forget that life is actually a journey, not some crazed sprint to the finish line.

    Thank you for the reminder to consciously swirl with balance. 🙂