The greatest responsibility of a leader.
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“What can I learn today so that tomorrow I will be well poised to not just be a day older but a day wiser too?” — Jonas Cain
It’s been said that the greatest responsibility of a leader is to empower their followers. But what exactly does it mean to “empower?” The dictionary defines empowerment as the authority and power to do something. With this in mind, I’d suggest that the responsibility of empowerment extends not just to others but to the self as well. After all, we can’t give to others what we don’t ourselves possess; therefore self-empowerment becomes a prerequisite to empowering others.
Empowerment gives us the confidence and motivation to jump into action with our grand plans, while a lack of empowerment holds us back. Disempowerment keeps us from moving forward, favoring the status quo of average and a “good enough” mindset.
In my book Are You P.O.S.I.T.I.V.E.?: Rethinking Positive Thinking, I share an eight-step process for developing and fostering positivity to enjoy and excel in life at work, home, and beyond. For the purposes of this article, here’s a brief summary of three of those practices that you can begin implementing today for your own personal empowerment:
1. Stimulate Your Passions
For our purposes we will define passion as the intersection of our talents and our interests. That is, the cross-section of the things that we can do better than most people with little or no effort, and the things that we think about even when we should be thinking about other things. When we combine these two things, Bippity Boppity Boo, we find passion.
Experts often say that we should focus on our passions because it helps us become most engaged in our work, but stimulating our passions takes us a step further because it highlights the gap between what we want to do and what we’re currently capable of doing.
It’s kind of like the gap between a train and a station platform: if we’re not aware of the gap then we could end up falling and missing the train! In a similar way, if we aren’t aware of our skills and knowledge gap then we can end up missing the train of life and never get to where we want to go with our lives.
In his book High Performance Habits, personal growth expert Brendon Burchard talks about this same idea. He says:
“A Super Bowl-winning quarterback doesn’t just know how to throw a ball. He has had to master mental toughness, nutrition, self-discipline, contract negotiations, brand building, and so on. Someone who reaches high performance in any career must have competence in many of the areas that touch that career (p. 15).”
There’s a difference between someone who knows how to throw a ball and someone who celebrates the success of a Super Bowl Win. And that difference is one person came down out of the clouds, stimulated their passions, and did everything they needed to turn the dream into a vision.
What’s your passion? What skills and knowledge touch that passion? Empower yourself today and every day by stimulating your passions.
2. Identify Your Responsibilities
Winston Churchill once said that the price of greatness is responsibility. One source of empowerment, then, is to identify our responsibilities. In a world where many avoid responsibility by doing just the bare minimum to get by, the path of responsibility is one where we’ll perhaps find few travel companions, yet it’s one well worth the effort.
An important thing to keep in mind here is that we sometimes hold ourselves accountable for things that we truly have no control over. There’s a difference between the things that we can change and the things that we need to just let go of. Our task, then, is to identify what we can control so we can recognize our true responsibilities.
To get start, consider these questions:
The concept of responsibility is simple yet it can at times be challenging to put into practice, at least in the beginning. It’s safe to say that most everyone wants to change the world for the better; it’s just that not everyone is willing to change themselves. Yet, by identifying our responsibilities we’ll become empowered to experience positive growth because it cuts through the distracting noise of everyday life, highlighting a clear path for action.
The important thing to remember is to take that first step. There are only so many hours in the day. Saying no to things that you aren’t responsible for frees up your schedule to say yes to the things that you are responsible for. Empower yourself today by identifying your responsibilities.
3. Invest In Worthy Guides
In 2015 I went skydiving for the first time. I wouldn’t particularly call myself a daredevil; rather, I simply put my trust in those who are masters of their craft. I didn’t dive into the sky alone. Rather, I dove into the sky with the security of being strapped to someone who had made that same jump literally thousands of times.
The ancient Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus, in the book Enchiridion, is quoted as saying:
“One of the best ways to elevate your character immediately is to find worthy role models to emulate.”
Consider that successful sport teams never go it alone; rather, they always have a coach to help show them the way. These coaches are people who have prior knowledge and experience that they use to offer advice and encouragement. They’ve gone that way before and can offer a welcomed perspective of things to look for, things to avoid, and things to try along the journey. Just as a sports team would never go into a game without a coach, it would be just as silly for you or me to try to go it alone in the game of life when there are worthy coaches, guides, and mentors available to us.
That’s the power of a worthy guide. They can take us to the edge and guide us safely through the thrill of positive growth and development. They show us the way, tell us what tools and skills we’ll need, and advise use when to jump and when to hold back. Empower yourself today by investing in worthy guides.
Ultimately there are three kinds of people when it comes to empowerment, or a lack thereof:
There’s no need to be confused or frustrated. Employing the three empowerment practices shared in this article can provide you with an easy to follow roadmap for becoming empowered. So if lately you’ve been feeling unmotivated, unconfident, and unfulfilled, implement these practices today and see what they can do for you.
Jonas Cain facilitates positive change initiatives for emerging leaders and their influencers.