What’s powering your life or career right now? You probably notice some changes, surprising opportunities that have arisen lately or expectations and assumptions that keep going unmet.
A lot of what I write about here is personal empowerment. I hadn’t realized that until recently because I try to write about change. But the idea made me stop and think about how much the changes we are experiencing are really changes to what empowers us.
Empowerment is not always an uplifting process in its early stages.
Over the past five years our economic system has once again made many talented people redundant. But if like me you’ve already been through three major recessions before this one then your life’s trajectory will have personal control written right across it.
What are the key elements of personal empowerment? A decade ago you might have said positivity – an indefatigable optimism. But today I think you might lead off with humility. Here is my list of five, drawn from experience, a list that is under-development as that experience grows. I would love to hear yours.
# 1. Capability.
Taking personal ownership of your own capabilities has suddenly become an imperative. You can be lucky and have an employer who will help you discover and develop new skills but capability is something more. It is about being indefatigable and knowing that you have even the worst scenarios covered. It’s about discovering a real core so that you can say: I know in this economy there will always be a demand for writers; or: I know I have enough ingenuity to survive in a creative environment; or: ultimately I can hack most situations I face because…. The because is something you have to discover. It needs to have been tested a few times. What attribute can you fall back on and what always powers your successes?
# 2. Profile
Many of us now keep profiles in all kinds of places from LinkedIn to Facebook to micro-profiles on Twitter. Here I suspect I’m under-utilising the power of profile, though I’ve had enough advice on this.
The old way to treat a profile was to find as many subtle ways as possible to sound off about your achievements. But take a look through your Twitter connections – those short intros to the people you follow or who follow you. What you’ll see is a short account of all the different things people do.
People want to narrow-cast their personal diversity and range, rather than sound off. I think this is an important change – we are grasping for a different way to accord value to each other. Services like Klout, and internal reputation systems, might be missing an important point here because what we seem to value is not best and biggest but most varied. This is an important new sensibility.
I am seeing this creep into enterprise thinking too – recently interviewing a senior executive who didn’t value many new ideas (biggest, best) for changing his products but did value new concepts to help him organise chaos (a new sensibility).