The Power To Actualise
Jim wanted more as a leader, and more as a small business owner. So as I explored his frames about efficiency, effectiveness, the prerequisites of success, etc.
I asked him, “Okay, so you want to actualise your best leadership and entrepreneurial skills, so what, if anything stops you? What interferes with the fulfilment of your dreams in this area of your life?”
He immediately responded, “I don’t have the energy for it. It feels so demanding and overwhelming. I find myself feeling fatigued and worn out.”
It’s one thing to enter into the adventure of actualising your highest dreams and values, your most inspiring values and visions, and your most core talents and potentials; it is an entirely different thing to translate these into reality. Because actualise literally means “making actual or making real” there’s a process or many processes involved and that implies power to activates those processes.
“Actualise” implies the energy, strength, endurance, persistence, commitment, etc. — power — to take from concept into action, from mind into body. The lack of such power explains why many of those who do have the vision and desire to actualise never actually do so. They try, but somewhere along the line they falter. They want it, but somehow, in some fashion, they are unable to find the required power — mental energy, emotional vitality, behavioural competency, relational robustness, etc. to transform what is potential into actual.
What about you?
As a leader, do you have the required power to actualise? Or do you find yourself struggling with low energy, fatigue, worn-out feelings verging on the border of feeling burned out? As an entrepreneur in your own small business, do all of the demands of playing so many roles zap your energy supply, overload your resources, and give you moments of doubt about your original vision? Or as a visionary of a new product or service, a promoter of an exciting new model or methodology, or a believer in a cause that deserves notice, do you also sometimes find the power to persist, resilient bounce back, and continue the journey waning?
While I am using the term power, and many may associate that to the power of position, the power of money, the power of authority, those forms of power are nothing compared to the power of one’s person to envision, dream, believe, find a passion, follow a passion, influence others, be resilient, and persist to make a goal real. It is this kind of power that we typically experience within ourselves as both an inspiration that we then feel as putting spirit (inspirited) into us. This cures being dispirited (discouraged, depressed).
What results from that is an inward motivation that drives us — mostly pulling us into the future, but also pushing from behind so that we don’t miss it and don’t suffer the consequences of missing the dream.
Recently I was in the far south of Mexico in the state of Chiapas where I presented a workshop that combined personal power and self-actualisation. Those present were mostly professionals, doctors, lawyers, therapists, coaches, entrepreneurs. But we also had a number who were there for their own personal development. When I reviewed and summarised the training of day one I happened to package it as a day about accessing and experiencing one’s personal powers. So I asked;
- What is personal power?
- How do you access your own fundamental personal powers?
- What are the most foundational powers from which every other form of power or energy or vitality arises?
I had not planned to put it in that manner, but it came as it often does in live workshops. I’m glad it did because it provided myself an “Ah ha!” about power.
The Fundamentals of Personal Power
If we were to get down to the basics about personal power, the first thing is awareness. So, think about a time when you felt empowered. Recall an instance in which you felt in control of yourself and your responses. As you do, see what you saw, hear what you heard, and then step back into that experience in your mind as if you were there again. Let the feelings of that experience fill your body.
Great. Now with a mindful awareness notice your mental powers— how you were thinking, imagining, remembering, believing, solving problems, exploring possibilities, all of the things you were doing with your mental powers. And given that, notice how you felt. All of the powers of your emotions, of your heart, to care, to feel, to express yourself. After your emotional powers, notice your responses. Notice how you spoke, used your voice, found words to communicate, influence, persuade. Notice how you behaved, took effective action, and related.
These are your four most fundamental powers — your mental, emotional, linguistic, and behavioral powers. We all have these fundamental powers. Yet to activate them we first have to notice and become aware of them. It is your awareness of them and your acknowledgement of them that begins to give you a sense that no matter what happens, you can always do something. You can always think, feel, say, and act. From Hitler’s death camp, Viktor Frankl said, “They cannot make me hate them.” What a profound expression of the ultimate freedom — our ultimate power of choice!
Yet while awareness is a power and empowers, it is the ownership of our responses (our response powers) that really endows us with a sense of control. When you own these powers as your powers, then you stop disempowering yourself by giving them away. And this is the foundation for being proactive so that you can take creative actions for effectiveness.
Awareness also presupposes that you can step back from your own self to notice what you have and ownership again implies the ability to step back or shall I say, step up a logical level in your mind? This is yet another foundational power, the power of your self-reflexive consciousness. You have the power to be aware of yourself and to reflexively step back from yourself. No animal can do that. It’s a special gift of being human. And by stepping back you can gain perspective, understanding, and choice.
Choice – now you can step back to the personal power of choice point. This is where you get to choose what to think, feel, say and do. This is where you get to choose your response to whatever that happens. Imagine that! No more a victim. No more the mere subject of other influences, now you have the power to influence yourself, others, and life. Are you ready for that power? This is truly the power of response-ability.
Stepping back to choice point now enables you to experience two additional powers — the power of setting frames and of creating meaning. Now you can choose what something means. Did you underline or highlight that sentence? You can actually choose what something means! You can do that because meaning isn’t a given. In fact, there is no meaning “out there” except that some meaning-maker created it. And now you have the power to question it, to explore it, to change it, even to reject it. You are a meaning-maker and if you are a conscious one with the power of choice then you can choose the meanings of your life that will define and qualify your very sense of reality.
And if you can step back to create meaning, you can set frames of meaning in your mind at all levels and also set frames in your communications and conversations with others. This is a powerful energy that enables you to persuade and influence others, your business, even culture. What a power!
And as you use your speech and behaviour with more awareness and choice, you begin to experience the power of relating, of relationship, of connecting, collaborating, and working with and through others.
Ah, the foundational powers that give us a sense of control in life, a sense of being able to make things happen! I have them; you have them. We all do. But amazingly, very few people access these powers or develop them so that they can actualise their highest and best potentials.
- Perhaps it is our cultural tendency to disdain them because they seem so common, so mundane
- Perhaps it is because we don’t see how they work as the core elements of personal power.
- Perhaps because we are seduced by the more superficial and external signs of power: fame, money, position.
Yet these are the powers that are required if you are to actualise your best potentials. Money cannot do that; authority cannot do that. Nor can fame
“To become all that you can become, to find and live your highest possibilities, these personal powers are essential.”
And, in fact, as you access, own, and develop these powers in service of your dreams and values — you will be actualising and experiencing moments of peak experiences.