In a conversation that I was having recently with one of my uncles the topic of parenting came up. It feels relevant to share it with you here because it illustrates a dilemma that all leaders face be that in the home or the work place. To what extent do you stamp your authority on a situation by enforcing your will; and how much to do you allow those around you to shape their own destiny?
What’s your relationship like with power and control?
There is a subtle distinction between sovereignty and control: expressing power in a healthy way is not something we are taught in our culture. Yet the meaning of sovereignty is to have supreme authority over your dominion. What comes up for you when you consider this?
Learning to hold sovereignty in your business, in a healthy way, without harming anyone else, is a critical and often unnamed ingredient to success. When you hold sovereignty over your business in a healthy, open-hearted way, people feel deeply supported and safe, without losing any of their own power.
I used to have a business partner and in many ways that was an amazing experience; and letting go of that relationship took a fair amount of adjustment. Distance from it all also provides greater perspective. I realise now that I gave away much of my own power unable to really acknowledge my own sovereignty. Many times during the years we worked together I contemplated giving up my own practice so that I could focus fully on the joint business. Thankfully I never did do that but I did neglect my business and that had a cost, which I recognised when the joint business was no more.
It is only recently that I have come to realise what it means to have sovereignty over my business. In growing into that I can see how unhealthy my previous stance was. And how important having clear boundaries is. What helps is grounding and centring myself on a daily basis so that I can access that authority when I need it.
What steps did I take?
Over time I realised that I had become over-reliant on the relationship with my business partner. I reduced contact with people outside my immediate family and my business partner to a minimum. Yes it meant that I could focus completely on what we were building. However the impact was that I felt quite isolated in my own community and placed too much weight on a limited number of relationships. In some ways I think I saw my business partner as the purveyor of golden eggs. Not a healthy perspective for either of us!
Rebuilding my own business I worked with a couple of the mantras we had developed to build emotional resilience in others. The first affirmation I focused on was I am my own best friend. This meant scheduling in regular walks to ensure that I got exercise and was not sedentary all day every day. I tend to work a four-day week so I can have time connecting with others, as that’s something I really enjoy. From there the affirmation that helped me to bounce back is the one that over lights the whole programme – as I believe so I see.
Let me explore that further with you. When I was stuck in the pain of loss, I had very little energy to develop my business and needless to say very little came in. For a while I felt as if I was free falling but eventually I remembered that I was not alone and my feet found terra firma. From that moment, I felt safe and held by the Divine. Abundance flows when a feeling of safety is present.
Control sits behind power and love
The definition of control is the power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events. When you consider your relationship to control, which is your go to strategy: love or power?
What I have noticed is that people vary wildly where they are on the power-love spectrum. A coaching client who’s the CEO of their business and who is very successful has got there through overt use of power. She is very comfortable wielding it but finds expressing heart much more challenging. She’s working with me because her soul is yearning to embrace more of her divine feminine at her core.
At the other end of the spectrum is another client of mine who is devoted to the needs of those closest to her; so much so that she always puts herself and her needs last. She finds it hard to define her boundaries and is often exhausted by all the love she is giving out that appears not to be returned.
Although it is rarely expressed in such an extreme way, there is always a tension as you vacillate between the two poles of power and love. Martin Luther King captured the essence of this conundrum when he said “Power without love is abusive; and love without power is anaemic.”
When it’s working well you can have influence in an effortless way. For example my family know how I value healthy eating and have even been known to parody me. Now that I have relaxed my grip on it all to the extent that my husband and I will eat a kale and butter bean one pot whilst the girls eat tuna pasta bake, other things are happening. My youngest chooses to drink herbal tea rather than a caffeinated variety because we gave her the choice. She discovered for herself she liked chamomile and lime flowers more than English breakfast. This feels like a shift and has come about through choice rather than by force so is more sustainable.
Take a moment to reflect on all this: your own relationship with power and love; the strength of your boundaries; and your commitment to your own growth and development. For me, emotional health and wellbeing is not the preserve of coaches and therapists, it is something that we all need to balance.
It is much easier to be resilient and bounce back from difficult situations when you have a practice of self-care in place. That comes more easily when you have a healthy relationship with control and your ego. Self-control comes more easily when you are inner directed rather than outwardly focused.
If this is something you would like to explore further then do get in touch because I run a series of workshops monthly on these topics regularly. There is a currently a waiting list for admission to the next series.