I found a surprising and unexpected upside to ending my marriage a few years ago: I tapped into something I had pretty much banned from that relationship. It’s simple, and primal, and potent.
It’s my power.
My power was lying in wait for me, beautifully intact and excruciatingly patient. Even while I had been giving it away (to someone who didn’t even want it!), my power was available in endless supply.
Personal power is rooted in self-love. It comes out of that deep well of feminine energies we all have – it catalyzes nurturing, understanding, compassion, insight, intuition, creativity, forgiveness, healing, and wisdom. Its potency is in its fundamental goodness.
And yes, there’s something else we associate with the word “power”. It encompasses the masculine traits of directionality, self-reliance, fierceness, pragmatism, and focus. It’s about taking charge and making decisions and getting things done. The potency here is in its fundamental aliveness.
Out of whack
For me, the balance between these two sides, feminine and masculine, went wonky while I was primarily occupied with raising my small children. I leaned heavily into the feminine aspects of power as I created community, built solid friendships and poured my heart into parenting.
For a few years I turned away from the seemingly linear, left-brain world of exerting power – at home, at work, in the world. I let the masculine sides of myself atrophy, and found myself resentful and cut-off – even from myself. What I was missing : self-reliance, fierceness and the simple satisfaction of driving results.
In my work, I see lots of women who have done the opposite of what I did. Typically high-achieving, passionate, dedicated professionals, these women drank the KoolAid about overproviding, going it alone, keeping the game face on. They have climbed ladders and won awards and made major contributions to their fields. AND they are bone tired. They forget that the journey is the destination. Their gas tanks are empty, yet they’re zooming down the freeway.
These women have overindulged the masculine side of their power. They’ve forsaken the exhale and the simple relief of resting in their fundamental goodness. This, by the way, is not news to them.
Ok then, so what to do? Well, it’s pretty simple. We commit to drawing on both sides of our power as needed, and we pay attention to clues before they turn into full-blown disasters. For example, when I’m feeling depleted I have likely overdone it on the masculine side of the equation (proposal in, offer negotiated, move complete!). I need acknowledgement for what I’ve done, a heartfelt chat or maybe some white space. On me is to make this happen.
And when I’m feeling stagnant or walked-on by others it’s because I have gone too far on the feminine side (endless meetings with no resolution, extending personal deadlines). In this case I’ll call in some backbone: I’ll make a decision, put an offer out or take a stand.
The good news is, once we identify what has gone wonky we are 95% of the way to remedying the situation. We simply dial up or dial down the side that’s giving us grief. We take action, large or small, that compensates for the imbalance.
This work, of dialing up and dialing down, is called The 12 Elements of Power ™. And it’s a game changer. I use the Elements with my coaching clients and have seen women turn around toxic environments at work, create new possibilities in relationship and find clarity on challenging issues. Mostly what I see, though, is a blossoming of personal power that enables that woman to shine in her uniquely potent way.
If you could see it, I’m pretty sure you’d be blown away by the beauty that reveals itself in this blossoming. I sure am.
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We’ll be talking all about power in the Women’s Leadership Circle convening in early October. Please join us to draw on the wisdom and insight of your peers – women grappling with the same leadership issues you are, wherever and however you find yourself leading right now. You’ll get lots of individual attention and the opportunity to apply the 12 Elements framework to the stickiest of situations.
Early Bird Pricing goes away today, September 21, so submit your application right away!