Have you ever thought about the power and influence you have? I’m not talking about being the CEO of a company of 1000 employees, or a highly paid and sought after speaker, or best-selling author, although you may be. I’m talking about you as a mother, partner, sister, daughter, friend, colleague … . In your day-to-day life you interact with a number of people, and you have the power to influence them in positive ways.
Can you recall being in the presence of someone who really makes you feel like you’re important, that you’re being listened to and truly heard? What qualities make this person memorable? Do they look into your eyes, appear grounded and have their attention truly focused on you? Do they act genuinely concerned about your well-being? Are they truly responsive to what you have to say? Do they speak from their heart?
When we interact with others from a place of being grounded and from a place of compassion and inner peace, rather than thinking about the next thing on our “to do list” or reacting to something someone says, it affects the quality of our relationships and how people “feel” around us. It also affects how open they are to our ideas.
How You Can Increase Your Power and Influence
Here are some “tried and true” strategies:
- Strengthen your relationship with yourself – A good place to start is to identify your unique strengths, talents and passions.
- Draw a chart with two columns. In the first column, write down all the things that you are good at, or things that come easily and naturally to you. They could be things such as, athletics, mathematics, writing, whatever you feel fits.
- In the second column, write down the things you enjoy doing. They could include being in nature, teaching others, using your body, playing piano…. If you feel challenged by this, think back to what you enjoyed doing as a child.
- Now look at both lists and circle the items that are similar or identical. Then review the circled items. Go inside and get in touch with the feeling each one evokes inside you. Does it excite you? Does it have little or no effect on you? Rate each item on a scale from 1 to 10 according to the level of passion you have around it (1 being “no interest at all” and 10 being “red hot”). I encourage you to do this from your body rather than your head.
When you take the time to “unearth” your unique strengths, talents and what you’re passionate about, you better understand why working and being with certain types of people and organizations light you up and others don’t. Then you can take steps to change your life so that you are working or involved with people, causes and organizations that “light you up”. You also inspire others with your passion.
- “Do less” and “Be more” – When we are constantly “on the move”, with packed schedules and little if any “down time”, our minds are always active and thinking of the next thing on our “to do” list instead of truly being present and focusing on the person we are speaking with. Even if someone isn’t consciously aware that we aren’t focusing on them, their subconscious knows. It’s important that we create space in our days to “be”. Suggestions to help you to slow down and become more present include: spending time in nature, doing yoga, taking time to stretch and/or meditate on awakening instead of hitting the ground running, journaling regularly, listening to music you love and moving your body to it.
- Give and Receive in a more balanced way – Many of us are socialized from a young age that it is important to give to others and to put ourselves at the bottom of the list. We are often made to feel guilty or selfish if we “give” to ourselves. Self-care is a “must”. We all need time to nurture our bodies, to relax and let go of the stresses in our lives. When we constantly give to others without giving to ourselves, we may become resentful and SOoo tired. When we are constantly “giving” and “doing”, our body is always in fight, flight or freeze mode and the stress hormones it pumps out eventually lead to burnout, adrenal fatigue, cancer or other chronic illnesses. If we want to positively influence those around us, it is important for us to look after ourselves and regularly take time for that bubble bath, walk in nature, lunch with a friend … .
- Improve your relationships with others – When you take time for yourself, and are aware of how you interact with others, you can be present in your conversations, come to them with an open mind, and from a place of understanding rather than judgment.
Making a difference
I believe that we all want to make a positive difference in the world. It may be on a smaller or larger scale.
What are you truly passionate about? What problem do you want to solve and for whom? Perhaps it’s the communication challenges you’re having with your teenage daughter, or the frustration with a work colleague. It may be an issue you feel passionate about such as water conservation or climate change. Mine is building peace in the world.
Many of us have some fear around creating and effecting change, particularly when it comes to the bigger issues. By joining with like-minded souls, we become energized and are able to create movements that on our own are not possible. I love Margaret Mead’s often cited quote: “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”
Here’s a poem I wrote that I hope will inspire and support you to be a positive influence in the world.
We are all women
Connected through the ages.
From hunters and gatherers
To queens and ladies-in-waiting.
Despite our different origins and surroundings,
We all endure similar pain, anxiety, and joy.
Nurturing is what we’re known for.
Caring for the sick, the wounded, the children,
Tireless in our cause, to improve the lot of humankind.
Sitting in a circle with others, hands clasped,
I feel the energy of powerful women throughout the ages.
I feel their warm blood pulsing through my veins.
The time has come to right the wrongs.
The time has come for women to unite
And be catalysts for peace.
No longer can our voices be hushed.
The time for action has come.
Our feminine qualities of intuition, warmth and sensitivity
Enable us to intervene in areas of conflict,
To lead the way towards our vision of a nurturing and caring world,
A world with love, land and opportunity
Women in sacred circles have for centuries felt the energy and
Interconnection among themselves.
Now, more than ever, we need the courage to rise up,
To take action towards making the world a better place
For our families, friends, neighbors,
And future generations.
Will you accept the challenge?
Pamela Thompson, October 27, 2000
Here’s to YOU and to making a positive difference in the world!
I’d love to hear from you. What strategies have you found helpful to increase your power and influence? I welcome your comments and insights below.
*This article was previously published in the March 2017 issue of Eydis Authentic Living Magazine.
What if we all viewed change as a creative process that opened us up to new possibilities? Do you think our relationships, workplaces, communities and the world would be different?
Let’s explore this perspective a bit further. Imagine if you were laid off. Instead of feeling angry, anxious and unsure of what to do next, what if you viewed the change as an opportunity to do something new, perhaps launch a new business you’d been thinking about for a few a few years, but had been afraid to start?
What if after a partner left you, you took the time to reflect on the relationship; what worked well and what didn’t? And, you took the time to write down all the lessons learned from the relationship as well as the qualities you wanted in a significant other and in a relationship? For example: someone who makes me laugh, who is a great communicator, someone who is physically active, and who loves being in nature? I did this a number of years ago and within 5 months of doing so my life partner and soul mate showed up who had all of the qualities I had written on my list!
Imagine if you were working in an organization that had a change in leadership, and instead of feeling uncertain and fearful, you viewed the change as an opportunity to learn and grow.
I invite you to “try on” this new perspective of viewing change over the next week and notice what you observe. It could be something as small as changing the way you usually respond to a person or situation. I welcome your comments and experiences below. Feel free to share this post with others who you think might benefit.
I just finished reading my friend and colleague Barb Edie’s inspiring new book Creating the “Impossible”. It reinforced my belief that my dreams are NOT too big, and I CAN accomplish them by following my heart, asking for what I want, and being open to opportunities and people who come my way.
What dream do you have? How do you want to make the world a better place? What skills and talents do you have to draw on to move toward your vision? Who can you partner with to support you to move toward your vision?
In August 2010, I felt like I wanted to make a bigger difference in the world. I had launched my coaching business 18 months before, and had a network of coaches in Canada and the US specialized in coaching people through a variety of life transitions; career, relationship, health … . Our clients were getting some good results, but we weren’t positively impacting enough people; things weren’t moving fast enough. My soul was telling me that there was something more, something bigger. I had been studying Body-Centred Coaching with Marlena Field and was engaged in the last teleseminar of the program. She asked for a volunteer to demo a body-centred decision-making process. I volunteered. Marlena gave the following instructions:
Find a line on the floor. Now think about what you want. Notice if any negative emotions (e.g. fear) or limiting beliefs (e.g. I can’t possibly do that!) come up for you. Imagine each of those emotions or beliefs as stones in a pack on your back. Then imagine each one of them falling to the ground. Notice how light and free you feel. Now envision what you want. Cross that line on the floor however you wish – leaping, running, walking, and while doing so say aloud what you want. … Pay attention to people and opportunities that present themselves in the days and weeks following.
I leapt across the line, a carpet in my office, and yelled “I want to PLAY BIG!” Within two weeks I received an email inviting me to “throw my hat into the ring” for one of 3 positions in the health sector in a new high level program the Canadian government had launched in Afghanistan. On receiving the email, I knew in my heart that this was my opportunity to PLAY BIG. I said “yes” to being interested, and within one month I had “won” the contract to be a Technical Advisor in Policy and Planning to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in Afghanistan. Two weeks later I was on the ground in Kabul. I ended up living and working in Afghanistan for 13 months and helped the MoPH develop their first strategic plan, and built the capacity of internal teams to do strategic and operational planning using participatory processes. It was an amazing experience! … You’ll never guess what the “line on my office floor” was. It was an Afghan prayer mat I had been gifted while working in Pakistan a number of years before!
I invite you to try the process above and ask for what YOU want. Then notice, in the weeks following, what people and opportunities present themselves to support YOU to “create the (seemingly) impossible”.
In her new book, Barbara Edie shares stories from her own remarkable life, as well as those of a number of visionary change-makers from around the globe who are making the world a better place. Compelling, inspiring, with powerful lessons, and questions for contemplation woven throughout, Barbara takes us on an incredible journey showing us how that when we listen to and trust our inner wisdom, dream big, and follow our hearts, anything is possible! If you want to be inspired get your copy (print or ebook) of “Creating the Impossible: What It Takes to Bring Your Vision to Life” today.
I welcome your comments below. Feel free to share this with others you think may find it of interest.
I recently returned from a 3-day retreat where there was no cell service and no internet. What an unusual and blissful experience!
When my friend who I was driving with said there was no cell service at the retreat location, I initially felt some relief and then quickly thought of whom I should text to alert them.
When we arrived at the “spot”, a rustic building by the ocean, I started to relax and drink in the beauty of our surroundings. When I checked into my room, which was small, yet comfortable, I was intrigued by the monkey tree outside my window and felt blessed to have a room with a view of the ocean. For me, being by, in or on the water is where I feel most at home. At a Vision Quest a number of years ago, an aboriginal elder dreamt in my medicine name, which is “Laughing Otter Heart”. Initially I thought, that’s not as reverent as my friend’s name “Soaring Dawn Eagle”, yet it so connects me to the essence of who I am; to water, being in nature and my playful side. Now I smile when I think of it.
Within a short time of being at the retreat center, I felt all my cares melt away; my shoulders lightened, my mind quieted and I connected to my “being” side, (as I am often “doing”). I so enjoyed the three days of interacting with the other amazing women, facilitating my portion of the workshop and basking in the joy of being “unplugged” and in nature.
Did you know that the Japanese have done longitudinal research on the benefits of walking in forests? They have found that walking in forests strengthens your immune system, reduces your heart rate and your blood pressure. Based on these findings, they have institutionalized what they call “forest bathing” or “forest therapy” and have created a number of centers across Japan where people can go and walk in forests. How powerful is that!
With such busy lives and the associated stresses, regularly spending time in nature, and unplugging from technology are simple yet powerful practices that have amazingly positive benefits on our bodies, our minds and our relationships.
When was the last time you unplugged and spent time in nature? I welcome your thoughts and experiences below and invite you to share the post with others.
Since today is the UN International Day of Peace, I thought it timely to share some thoughts on how you can find peace amongst the chaos of daily life and work.
Many High Achieving Women are restless from a young age. We are on a constant quest for knowledge, meaning and experience. We set a goal, achieve it and swiftly move on to the next project (often more than one at a time 🙂 ). We are always in motion and focused on achievement. Do you relate?
Some High Achieving Women may believe that inner peace cannot coexist with their drive to succeed. They worry that if they slow down, take some time to explore and find some inner peace, they will lose their passion and no longer be successful. From experience, I can tell you that finding inner peace allows you to be more successful, happy, content and fulfilled in all aspects of your life.
When you think about finding inner peace you may visualize yourself on a mountaintop in lotus position, far away from your current reality. Realistically though, as appealing as that image might be, most of us don’t have the time or the money to spend our lives meditating on mountaintops. I’d like to share a poem that for me describes inner peace (source unknown).
It does not mean to be in a place
where there is no noise, trouble
or hard work.
It means to be in the midst of
these things and still be calm
in your heart.”
What do you do to find inner peace?
Here are a few proven strategies and powerful practices that help me stay calm, focused and grounded.
- Meditating daily; I find the 21-day meditation challenges (CDs and MP3s) available through www.chopra.com helpful in practicing meditation, and learning to focus on one concept or idea.
- Spending time regularly in nature.
- Being grateful for what I have.
- Doing yoga three to four times a week.
What about you? What strategies have you found helpful to stay calm, focused and grounded in spite of the chaos around you? I’d love to read your comments below.
Many High Achieving Women know from a young age that we’re here to make a difference in the world. We may know that we are here for an important reason but have no clue as to what that difference is.
In order to truly understand yourself and discover what difference you are here to make, it is important to uncover your unique gifts and talents, as well as to identify your passion and life purpose.
Discovering Your Passion
“Your passions are the loves of your life … things that are most deeply important to you… things that, when you’re doing them or talking about them, light you up … When you follow your passion you love your life.”
(Chris & Janet Atwood, The Passion Test)
When you find your passion and live your life aligned with it, you feel truly joyful, fulfilled, and at peace. It lights your fire and fuels your enthusiasm for life. You feel that you are indeed doing something that makes a difference in the world and you feel alive.
We all have unique gifts and talents to share with the world. I invite you to do a short exercise.
My Unique Strengths and Talents
|Things I’m good at that come easily; e.g. mathematics, writing, athletics …
||Things I enjoy doing; e.g. being in nature, playing piano, teaching others …
i) Fill in the table above. Don’t take a lot of time to think about it. Write down the first things that come to mind.
ii) Circle the items that are similar or identical from each list.
iii) Rate each of the circled items on a scale from 1 to 10 according to how much it excites you/the level of passion you feel around it – “1” being “no interest at all” and “10” being “red hot”
Another clue as to whether something is a passion is if you lose track of time when you’re doing it (e.g. editing film, doing photography … )
iv) From the above, identify your top 3 to 5 passions .
Just being good at something doesn’t mean it is your passion or will fulfill you if you work in that area. I’m sure you know someone who was good at math, went on to study mathematics, taught it at school or university and over time was miserable and not at all happy teaching math everyday. So what we’re good at can provide clues to our passions but are not necessarily connected with them. Things we enjoy doing; e.g. connecting with and inspiring others, are usually better clues to what may be our passions. A passion is often a blend of what we love and what we’re good at. As well, your passions may change over your life-time.
What was your experience with the “unique strengths and talents” exercise. Did you learn anything new? Did it confirm to you that you’re on your path? I’d love to hear your thoughts below. Please share the post with others you think would appreciate it.