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.
In this high-paced, “plugged-in” world we live in, now more than ever it’s important to have tools to find peace amidst the chaos of daily life and work. I believe that we all have a role to play in helping build peace in the world. When we find inner peace and model it for others, we then help build peace in our families, our communities, our workplaces … the world. So how can you find peace? Here are some proven practices I use and teach my clients.
Starting the day off right:
Rather than leaping out of bed and “hitting the ground running” make a conscious effort to quiet your mind and scan your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Notice any tension or discomfort; breathe into these areas and consciously release and let of the tension.
Do some conscious stretching. I incorporate some yoga stretches with crunches to awaken my body before I do anything else. Mindfully massaging different joints of your body from head to toe is also meditative.
Meditate for 10 to 20 minutes. There are a number of digital products available to help you do this. I have found Deepak and Oprah’s 21-day meditation experiences helpful as they focus on a key theme, and each day break down the theme. In addition, beautiful nature sounds and music play in the background to assist you in relaxing and staying focused.
Ground yourself. Being centered and grounded helps you to be more responsive rather than reactive when interacting with others. “For example, with our family members, when we are centered, grounded and at peace we truly focus on each individual and connect with them at the heart level. They then feel listened to, understood, accepted, and loved. Likewise in the workplace if a colleague gets upset or angry we can show empathy and understanding rather than reacting to them with frustration or as if they are a threat.”
Here is a tool I have found extremely useful in helping me to get centered and grounded. I do this exercise at the start of every day and also before I head into an important meeting or go “on stage” for a speaking event. I go somewhere quiet (depending on the venue it may be a washroom stall), then close my eyes and take several deep breaths to get into my body. I imagine I have roots growing out of the bottom of my feet going deep down into the earth. Then I imagine drawing the earth’s energy coming up through my feet, legs and into my heart. I then imagine I have branches reaching up to the sky to access the universal or source energy (or whatever you wish to call it) and feel that energy coming down through my head and neck and into my heart. I imagine that I am grounded to the earth and to the sky. This enables me to be much more powerful in the work I do and to be less reactive and more responsive in my interactions with others at work or at home.
I’d love to hear what tools you use to start your days off right, and to find peace amidst the chaos. I invite you to try out any of the tools above and to share your thoughts and experiences below. Here’s to helping build peace in the world one person at a time!
 Thompson, Pamela, Learning to Dance with Life: A Guide for High Achieving Women, p. 144
“Celebrate” means to “publicly acknowledge (a significant or happy day or event) with a social gathering or enjoyable activity”; and “to honour or praise”. (www.oxforddictionaries.com). When we examine cultures around the world, we find that all cultures, religions and spiritual traditions have special holidays in which people gather to celebrate. Whether they be Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Eid, they all provide opportunities for us to connect with people we care about, share certain rituals, and to reflect and take time out from the busy lives many of us lead. It’s interesting that thousands of years ago, people in positions of power realized the importance of taking time out, connecting, and publicly acknowledging a remarkable person or event.
Many cultures also celebrate the birth of a child and subsequent anniversaries of their birth. Isn’t it curious in the busy lives we lead, that many of us don’t take time to celebrate ourselves, and our accomplishments?
When we get together with people we care about, we often laugh and engage in playful activity. When we laugh, we release endorphins and encourage energy to move throughout our body. In the words of Candace Pert, a neuroscientist and pharmacologist who has spent much of her scientific life studying the mind-body link:
“Play and laughter are vital to feeling good. Recreation isn’t merely a frivolous addition to life or a hard-earned reward for work…I believe that in a society driven by a strong work ethic, with so many individuals burdened with workaholism, people aren’t getting enough endorphinergic surges through the bodymind on a regular basis. For you to not be laughing and playing during some part of every day is unnatural and goes against your fundamental biochemistry.” (Everything You Need to Feel Go(o)d), 2006)
I’d like to share a couple of strategies to support you to celebrate yourself. At the end of everyday, I encourage you to reflect on your day and identify at least one thing (big or small) that you’d like to celebrate. Also, instead of going through your ‘to-do’ list and only checking off what you’ve done, or finishing a project and quickly moving on to the next, I recommend that you feel into your body and acknowledge your accomplishments.
In the video below, I share a technique I’ve found helpful to encourage those endorphinergic surges Candace Pert recommends. Try it and let me know what you experience.
I invite you to share below how you celebrate yourself and any “ahas” you’ve noticed.
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.