Empowering yourself to be powerless

1053107766_17b6656ef8 Leave it to Valeria to make me do some deep thinking before any caffeine intake this morning. She asks, "What is the most empowering word?" Then goes on to describe the imagery of the word "empower." Personally, I despise that word. Immediately, I get a bitter taste in my mouth upon hearing the word…empower. To me, it is a buzz word senior executives use to help them sleep better at night. IF I were truly "empowered" I would not have to be told I was so.

"What other word would you use to signal that you are taking charge? Is it the most self-fulfilling word of the future?" — Valeria Maltoni

For me the most powerful word is "powerless." Until I admit I am powerless and have no control, my life will be unmanageable. This thought process serves me well in both my personal and professional lives. Breakout! It feels so good to let go!

So, are you empowered or powerless? Something different altogether?

(Photo courtesy rustyjaw.)

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  • http://twitter.com/leonardocsouza Leonardo Souza

    Hey Lauren!
    I personally like the word “empower”. In fact, I more than like it, I just love the word, and it’s a word to which we don’t have a direct translation in Portuguese.
    According to the “New Oxford American Dictionary”, it is:
    verb [ trans. ]
    - give (someone) the authority or power to do something
    - enable (someone) to do (something)
    - make (someone) stronger and more confident, esp. in controlling their life and claiming their rights
    It always struck me how just a single verb can transmit so much implications on it. With just this verb you can define precisely a broader concept such as “teaching someone how to do fishing, instead of just giving him/her the fish”.
    I know it can be used in a very bad way in the corporate word, affecting its meaning and its importance (which happens to other words too, btw – just ponder about your reaction to the word “synergy”).
    But even with this “bad use” I still like the word and its implications, how it transmit such a strong concept, more important and broader than “help” or “support”.
    Well, that’s just my 2 cents on this matter. :)
    Warm regards,

  • http://www.inspiritry.com Anne McCrady

    First, it was great to meet you today at the BGC conference.
    Like, Leo, I love the spirit of the word “empower,” even though it has become tainted by old school motivational speakers. That said, I also like your idea of powerlessness. In fact, just recently on NPR’s This I Believe, a young guy talked about helplessness as a blessing. That led me to speak recently about the concept of allowing others the blessing of helping us. When we do that, we really do “empower” them!