What is Empowerment?

What is Empowerment?

The gold standard for social interactions and qualitative results


Today’s world is about results. What will it do, where is it going, when can it be expected, how much is it going to cost and how much will it bringback. Outcomes in the physical world drive us and shape our decisions yet, to a great irony, the results which are often the most meaningful to us are also the ones that are not readily measurable or quantifiable.

How do you weigh happiness? What is the size of confidence? Exactly how peaceful can I get through that guided meditation CD?

These types of things are not measurable because they are states of being — experiences that just exist. If you are happy and I am happy — one of us is not happier than another. Sure, we distinguish different flavors of these states of being by trying to capture them in language — elated, blissful, content — but states of being work more like an on-off switch with a dimmer.

The color of the light may be a little different, dimmer or brighter but it either has power or it doesn’t.

There’s no such thing as being “sort of” pregnant or “kind of” in love. Either the light is on or it’s not — and while there are a massive variety of ways to articulate a particular state of being (as in the now famous and interesting, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig), what’s behind those slight emotional variations is a simpler system of energy principles, among them the notion of power.


In any line of work where you are involved with people it is crucial to develop your social intelligence and relationship management skills so that you can navigate the wide range of responses and communication that are possible in human beings.

We can’t get lost in the details, especially as leaders.

In the work that I do with people in ballroom dancing or personal coaching, helping people see the principles at play behind those details lead me to establish general values (or, anchors, as I consider them) that every situation can be tested against. They act as objective baselines in an otherwise subjective experiential realm and they help to create meaningful results.

Enter the Principle of Empowerment.


Empowerment is a word that (to me) first calls to mind issues of social or gender justice — but its scope is much broader and more significant.

I believe that Empowerment is the gold standard for social interactions and measuring qualitative results.

Is the relationship, job or decision you are creating giving you power or taking it away? Did you rob someone of power in any of your interactions today or were you a force that was generating power to others? When you can look beyond the details of what happened and see the happenings of your relationships from a frame of empowerment, it will give you a powerful access into creating a life you love with the people you love in it consistently and sustainably.

So, what exactly is empowerment? We understand its value — as a useful tool for evaluating your social interactions and decisions in the world to create more of the things we want of like confidence, happiness and so on.


We also understand how it behaves — like an on/off switch with a dimmer that generates different states of being—the brightness of those states can be different but in the end it’s just a matter of having light or not. To continue the light metaphor, empowerment would be like the actual light bulb, whereas the particular emotion or experience we feel would be the type of lamp or cover. Empowerment is what’s working in the background.


Empowerment strips away the significance and meaning of what that experience is or isn’t (compared to another) and looks at it simply — is it creating power or not?


But what does it mean to have power and why is it useful? And how do you know if something is empowering or dis-empowering? How do you detach from a situation and recognize which side of the switch it falls on and, most importantly, how do you bring the power back if it’s lost?


These are important questions but fortunately they have simple answers.


In a now famous commencement speech all over the Internet, comedian Jim Carrey talks about how all of life’s choices boil down to either love or fear — and the power in that binary kind of thinking allows us to create an easy barometer for monitoring the qualia of our countless experiences and interactions and adjusting where necessary.


The CliffsNotes? Love is empowering, fear is dis-empowering.


The Meaning of Power

One universal trait among all autonomous beings is a desire for freedom. Just like any animal, we want to feel that we are authors of our own existence. For the things most important to us, we want to be connected to the cause in some way. When this relationship is healthy, we feel empowered.

Interestingly enough, human beings can also experience power in the relinquishing of cause and control.

Language and society have given rise to a myriad of complicated behaviors and emotions and, without getting into them, things like guilt, anxiety, pre-occupation, shame and so on are all power-robbing states of being that one can do work to let go of and bring the power back on.

In both scenarios, power ultimately comes down to a state of freedom — either to be in action and create or to just simply be. All of the positive emotions and states of being we experience boil down to one of these two types of freedoms and, conversely, any dise-empowering or negative situation you can think of consequently can be categorized as one that robs you of your ability to create an outcome or of your freedom to be in some way.

The freedom to be or the freedom to create — it’s all there when we are free, roaming around our Universe particles in the quantum field before they commit to existence through observation.

Empowerment is about a state of being that is ready for action — ready to create whatever it is that needs to be created. It is about being free to be as you want to be, clear of limitations or internal shackles and open to possibility. If this is your gold standard as to the decisions you take and the way you manage your relationships, then you can expect magical results in anything from love to business and beyond.


A final note: Empowerment is not synonymous with comfort. It is quite easy to be comfortable and miserable at the same time. Likewise, you can be in a lot of pain but draw the power to be or the power to create from that situation. Some of the greatest, most contributory projects in the world have come from a story of great pain and suffering that was flipped into an anchor of empowerment through transformation.


In my podcast I give Empowerment 7 distinct experiences — Peace, Creativity, Confidence, Heart, Voice, Vision and Purpose — and explain how, through a process I refer to as “Spiritual Plumbing,” we can identify specific areas where we get dis-empowered and, most importantly, how and what to do to fix those areas and maintain our creative power to a maximum.

I wrote a basic guide for Spiritual Plumbing here, check it out — I think it’s worth the read (8 min).

Life and relationships ultimately boil down to power and freedom. If you make a habit of being empowered and empowering others, then your life will be full of abundance and beauty as is the nature of everything around you in this great Universe.


For a full discussion on Empowerment, listen to my podcast episode here.

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