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Empowerment or self-empowerment? Where does it all start?

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." Alice Walker

Empowerment is a word that keeps coming up in the corporate world, whether in the team dynamics setting or the new agile craze or even during 1-1 managerial discussions. It got me thinking about what empowerment really is and where it starts. I have been trying to find a definition and resources on empowerment with a lot of difficulties. The Merian Webster defines empowerment as the granting of the power, right, or authority to perform various acts or duties. I found an interesting definition in: 'Empowerment: The History of a Key Concept in Contemporary Development Discourse' by Anne-Emmanuèle Calvès. Anne-Emmanuèle Calvès writes: "empowerment is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights". And this is where I want to start.

If you have read me previous blogs, you will probably have caught onto my passion for human development.

When I think back on all the discussions, I have personally had or have witnessed there was a common thread. There was a sense of victimisation, injustice and unfairness. A lot of HR and business articles write that empowering employees is critical for employee wellbeing and optimal performance.

So how would it be if we changed to the concept from empowering others to empowering ourselves? How would it be if we did not wait to be empowered but started taking ownership?

So yes, once again, we are on the topic of personal development and human differentiating factor. We are, after all the main actors in our lives. If we want people to trust in our abilities, it HAS to start with us trusting ourselves. If we want others to love us, it has to start with us loving ourselves; and I could go on forever. The same goes for empowerment. If we want people to empower us, it has to start with self-empowerment.

I had a great discussion about this with a lovely colleague. We were sharing stories on recent experiences; this colleague was sharing their frustration about an event linked to decision making and feeling unempowered. They recounted how, after weeks of waiting for guidance and support, in the end, they had taken the decision that felt right to them and given themselves the power to move things forward in that way. This story beautifully illustrates what self-empowerment is all about. It is about courage and self-trust. It is about standing up for what you believe in and taking the informed risk. It is also about allowing yourself to be uncomfortable and allowing yourself to risk failing and falling.

So what stops us from self-empowering?

The answer to that is quite simple. It is about, and you will have heard this before, letting go of fear and our inner critic. The nagging little voice that tells us we are not good enough, and we do not have what it takes to succeed. The "little voice" telling us to wait until x or y "allows us to do something" — the "little voice" aiming to protect us and yet keeping us safe and small. Freedom from this voice and fear opens up a world of possibilities — a world where you can regain control and self-empower — a world where you can shine and be true to your authentic self.

"You have been criticising yourself for years, and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens." Louise L. Hay

What is the path to empowerment?

Empowerment or self-empowerment is a process; it is something that happens over time. It starts with believing in yourself and your abilities. It consists of regaining control of your life and allowing yourself to make mistakes. And this is critical, no one and nothing is perfect. Why do we expect perfection from ourselves?

If we look at the masterpieces of painting, architecture, the mastery lies in the imperfection; the imperfect makes it perfect!

It involves finding the courage to learn and be terrible at something; it entails allowing ourself to learn and grow. It is about letting ourselves fall and stand up again. Think about it; the only way we ALL learnt to walk was through stumbling, falling and getting up again. Why would it be different when we start to develop a new skill, a new way of being?

This is what becoming stronger and more confident is about; these are the keys to controlling one's life and claiming one's rights.

"If you're able to be yourself, then you have no competition. All you have to do is get closer and closer to that essence." Barbara Cook

If you want to start or continue to find freedom and gain control of your life and future; contact me for a free coaching session, message me "empowerment".

(Offer applies to the ten first contacts)


Anne-Emmanuèle Calvès, The History of a Key Concept in Contemporary Development Discourse Revue Tiers Monde 2009/4 (No 200), Retrieved from

Empowerment,, 2019, Retrieved from (11 July 2019).

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