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When you think of wielding your personal power, what comes to mind? Do you think power equates to being domineering? Controlling? Manipulative?
When you hear “powerful woman,” what comes to mind? Do you think if you embrace your power, people will think you’re domineering? Bitchy? Controlling? Manipulative?
Many people have some negative associations with power, especially when it comes to women. We’ve probably heard that we should downplay our power. We shouldn’t be too assertive. We shouldn’t go for what we really want.
The truth is, there’s a lot of positive reasons why it’s essential to explore, discover, and embrace your power. Here’s what you need to know to tap into your ability to influence others and get what you want.
We all know power can be abused. We see examples of abuses of power every day on the news, media, and probably in our own lives. In our day-to-day dealings, we may be confronted with those who hold power over us, attempt to control us, or manipulate us with the power.
Personal power and feminine power are topics we discuss heavily in our Year of More curriculum, with male and female students. It seems that many of us have learned to think that it’s dangerous to “embrace your power.” We may shy away from personal development opportunities and exploring our power because of these associations.
When we’ve asked students to free associated with power, the words that come up are often some of those misconceptions listed above. “Power means manipulation, domination, control, abuse.” Many of us think power is BAD somehow. We think of terms like “power-hungry” or “power trip,” and there are negative connotations.
Of course, abusing power can be harmful and even dangerous. But it’s important to realize it’s not the power that’s wrong. Gaining more control over your life is a positive way to achieve your goals is actually EMPOWERING.
How do we get away from the misconceptions we have about power? Well, If we step back and look at the definition of power, we find that it merely means “the ability to do work or to have influence.” Who doesn’t want more ability and influence in their lives?!
If you look at power for what it really is, it’s quite remarkable to have influence, to do work, and to have an effect on others. It’s constructive, and we’re all hungry for it. Power is positive, and the more influence a good work in our lives, the better.
When we talk about embracing your power, it’s the power that’s part of our identity. It’s an integral piece of who we are. My personal power is my capacity to have an influence, to affect others, and to work. Everyone has personal power. It’s part of us. We have an enormous circle of influence and a surprising ability to touch and affect many lives for good.
In addition to the negative connotations about power, people often have a stereotypical masculine association with power. We think of power as a loud voice, physical strength, and domination. This doesn’t mean we necessarily look at power as male or female, but as masculine and feminine. Masculine power is assertive and projected.
Feminine power, on the other hand, is soft and receptive. Feminine power might be sensual, but it consists of much more—the power to embrace, include, receive, attract, and synergize — the aptitude for relationships, vulnerability, holistic thinking, multitasking, collaboration, emotional expression, and communication.
As you can see, all humans, no matter their gender, have an array of these feminine powers within us. Learning to embrace these powers is a gift that will help us become better leaders, partners, friends, and influencers within our circle.
Feminine power is attractive. It draws and attracts things to you—when you are compelling, that’s power as well. There is also the external pushing power. There’s a power of doing, and there’s a power of being. In our Year of More work, we often explore the potential of these poles. What draws us to certain types of power?
We live in a society that often overvalues the masculine and undervalues the feminine. Again, that doesn’t mean men versus women. All of us—men and women both, equate masculinity with power and feminine qualities with weakness.
As we work with our students, we discuss where these ideas come from. We look at all the different ways we can embrace and claim our power, like the power of silence. There’s great power in listening, seeing, paying attention, and simply being. It can have a tremendous effect on others. It’s not about controlling the conversation or directing it—it’s about holding space and being present.
Similarly, the power of compliments has a significant effect on people. You can often influence others with positive results simply by learning how to acknowledge and accentuate the positive in your interactions. Not by faking compliments, but by taking time to notice the beautiful things that our fellow humans show us.
We discuss the power of asking for things with our students as well. How can they use both poles of power to attract the things they want and pursue what they want? How can they set positive intentions to get what they want and then make it happen? By learning how to wield the power of persuasion, people are amazed at what they can bring into their lives.
Women often come to our leadership classes because they want to develop their power. They think of power as a masculine quality. They may not be aware of the positive aspect of feminine power or have a demeaning attitude toward the concept. They often realize that there is feminine power they already possess and can enhance.
How often do you display sensitivity in your relationships, caring, and deep emotions, and feel like it’s a disadvantage? We may view our sensitive side as being weak or a detriment to our future.
Women to get to where they want to be in their careers and life, often become more masculine to gain parity in our world. While the views are shifting now, there is still room to learn more. Women don’t need to let go of their feminine side to become more powerful. Those feminine qualities can make us even more powerful in many ways.
Women can cultivate the skills they naturally have. We are starting to see a substantial shift in business and society toward embracing both our feminine and masculine power. While men and women are of equal importance and value, we are not the same.
Over the last 30 or so years, brain research demonstrates undeniably that men and women are quite different—physically, neurologically, and emotionally. As I study the research, I’ve realized the powerful complement in our innate differences. For instance, men have tunnel, binocular vision, while women have wide-ranging peripheral vision. Men’s brains are configured to be more logical, and women are wired to be intuitive. The feminine inclination to be nurturing and inclusive is complemented by the masculine proclivity to be protective and territorial, and the list goes on.
Slowly but surely, we are realizing the benefits of these differences. Feminine qualities like relationship receptivity, communication, collaboration, synthesizing, nurturing, feeling deeply, and—yes, even tears—are an essential blessing, not a curse.
The truly exciting aspects of feminine power are emerging, from women’s liberation to human liberation, beyond women’s empowerment to a society that fully harnesses masculine and feminine power in full partnership for sustainable, creative, harmonious life on spaceship earth.
For more on embracing your personal power explore our courses at Wright Now. We’re proud to offer an array of webinars and opportunities to learn more about yourself and work towards your true potential.
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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.