Where does real power come from?
May 15, 2007
This is a reprint of a post I published on 25 May 2006 and I think it has a real resonance for many of us attending the Irish Business Women Conference in Mayo later this week the theme of which is Thinking bigger – what are we waiting for?
A number of Irish business people who blog will be attending the event including; Frank Fullard (co-founder of IBW and CEO of Mayo CEB); Finola Howard (co-founder of IBW and CEO of The Marketing Table); Keith Bohanna; Conn Ó Muíneacháin and GingerPixel
One of the central themes at the workshop I ran recently was the issue of self confidence and self worth. The room was full of bright and talented people and most spoke at some point during the day about the crippling plight of low self esteem and how, even with inputs from people like me and others, it gets in the way of taking action. Where this really emerged was around the issue of charging for work. Now this is something I have grappled with myself – how much is enough? How much is too much? And more importantly – how much is too little? All the market research in the world isn’t going to help if, at the end of the day, we don’t think we’re worth what we think we should be charging for what it is we have to offer.
I spent a lot of time during my training as a therapist grappling with this issue. How could you charge someone for being with them? Wasn’t that akin to prostitution in some way? And then, as a client, I would have gladly paid twice over for the insights I received along the way…so the paradox was very live for me about how we value worth.
I think the conclusions we came to were that if we are waiting for someone else to assign worth to us then we’ll be waiting for ever. In the inimitable words of Dr Phil “we teach people how to treat us” and I’m total agreement with him (even if he is cognitive behavioural and I’m not!)..but somewhere along the line we have to draw some boundaries around how we value ourselves and how, in turn, that is translated into value for a client, a customer or a commissioner. We need to communicate our value system first and hope to attract people with whom it resonates, or say “no” to people with whom it doesn’t. And all of that takes self confidence and courage.
Looking back over my coaching career in particular I’m struck by how much of the time I have spent with people has been around helping them take a step into the unknown…helping them to garner the courage to take just one step. So much of that work is acknowledging fear – and being scared (regardless of what word you use to describe it) is something that affects everyone. If we’re not scared then that means we’re happy with the status quo. Being scared means we’re hovering on the edges of change and any kind of “next step” will take us out of that comfort zone.
If we can trust ourselves to manage ourselves instead of fretting about how someone else will see us, then that’s real empowerment…and real power comes from within, it is never awarded from without.