“Did you bring your power to this meeting?”
Poonam Barua, Founder & CEO, WILL Forum India, and Co-Founder of Rise & Lead Women, asked her audience this question during the recently concluded, “Power. Presence. Potentials” Webinar, hosted by the Rise and Lead Women Forum, which was organised by Ebere Akadiri.
There were automatic yeses, some hesitant ones and some participants chose not to answer at all. How exactly do you know if you brought your power to the meeting?
When asked to define power, many participants readily answered how it’s about influencing change, making an impact on others, being able to help change the world. But Barua states that these are manifestations of power, not power itself.
So what would her definition of power be? “Power is a single-minded component that aligns your body, mind, and spirit. Until you align these three, you cannot have power.”
Simply put, your power has to come from within you and you have to be fully aware and in control of who you are, how the world perceives you and your purpose. And only then can you start the influence and change you want to see in the world.
It seems like a cliché – power is something that comes from within us – but the truth is, if we depend on money, a leadership position, popularity or other external influences to give us power, then power becomes a brittle concept, something that other people or unfortunate circumstances can easily take away from us. Power is when all these things are gone and you can still walk into a room and hold everyone’s attention without uttering a single word. Leadership, influence, and popularity follow when you have true power within you.
Power, when ingrained within you becomes a constant. You can carry your power with you everywhere you go, whether you’re at a meeting or just enjoying a cup of coffee with friends. As Barua states during the Power, Presence and Potentials webinar, “Power is something you carry with yourself all the time, whether you want to carry it or you don’t want to carry it”.
How Do You Achieve Power?
Barua states that in order to achieve complete alignment of your body, mind, and spirit and thereby power, “you have to learn to listen to yourself, be sensitive to your senses, be one with the higher powers, shut out all the noise around you, be strong and be stable.”
Power is not simply what you acquire through meditating, although meditation is a great practice to disconnect yourself from the clutter around you. Here are some tangible tips on how you can take the journey towards owning your power:
1. Articulate your vision, cleary!.
Articulating your vision starts with knowing yourself or your purpose, knowing your strength, knowing what you want, and having complete conviction in these things. When you know yourself, you don’t need to constantly refer to a script or speech you wrote, because it’s already a part of you. You may need to have several sit-downs on your desk or meditate every day for a year, but you have to be completely in sync with your vision so whether you have thirty seconds or thirty minutes to convince someone of your vision, you’ll know exactly what to say.
2. Be aware of the “Messages” you are sending about yourself before you start speaking.
Before you even open your mouth, a hundred judgments will already be made about you just based on your stance, your appearance or even your clothes. We’re not suggesting you change everything about yourself based on the opinion of others, but it is important to understand that people perceive us in a certain way and we cannot control that. People’s opinions could be of value to us but should not control us. What we can do is understand and be aware of it. Talk to your confidantes or ask a mentor, how do I come across? When I speak, do you listen? If not, what causes you not to listen?
3. Learn to disconnect — and cut out the “noise”.
Disconnecting is understanding that the distractions around us, from technology or opinions around us, do not bring us power. It doesn’t mean completely staying away from all social media, because social media can be a great conduit for our own power. It’s knowing that our power doesn’t rely on them. Disconnecting also gives you a chance to learn more about yourself and your vision.
4. Be knowledgeable.
Go the extra mile to gain understanding about topics that matter. Have your numbers and data and be ready to add to the conversation. People respect knowledgeable people. Nobody can argue with you when you know your topic.
5. Communicate with “substance” every time and own your opinion.
Being a great leader means being a great communicator. You have to be able to communicate your message clearly and with conviction. This means that not only do you have to know your subject matter like the back of your hand, you also have to have complete belief in it. Own your opinion. Otherwise, you’re just wasting yours and everyone else’s time. Communicating doesn’t always come naturally to all of us, so be ready to learn and practice. Take up classes or read books on communication and don’t be afraid to ask for the help of colleagues or mentors.
Have you found your power? It has to be cultivated “intentionally” — and strategically.
Ebere Akadiri is A Nigerian Food Entrepreneur who lives in The Hague. Her passion to inspire others to achieve their goals drove her to found Rise and Lead Women along with her co-founder, Poonam Barua. Their mission is to inspire women to take the lead in closing the gender gap in workplaces and in business.