Practices for Cultivating Power Within Oneself

Power, Presence, and Being Unapologetically You

Over the past two years, I’ve been immersing myself in leadership and coaching (on the surface).

On a deeper level, I’ve been immersing myself in discovering, appreciating, expanding, and leveraging my unique power.

The more that I’ve practiced this, the stronger relationships I build, the more powerfully I influence, the more “out of my league” opportunities come my way, and the more joy I experience, the higher performing clients I have, and the more impactful my clients become.

I felt called to distinguish what power and presence means to me and the various tools I use to excavate and cultivate more untapped power as time goes on.

Here’s my current list of practices – Please add your thoughts, questions, and own practices in the comments below.

Practices for Cultivating Power Within Oneself

  1. Range
  2. Depth
  3. Elevation
  4. Holding Multiple Truths
  5. Non-attachment
  6. Non-judgement
  7. Non-resistance
  8. Being Present
  9. Choosing Vulnerability as a Strength rather than a weakness
  10. Authenticity
  11. Courage
  12. Going for what you want
  13. Full Ownership (of self)
  14. Not Owning what others put on you
  15. Seeking growth rather being right
  16. Owning and Leveraging your Unique Strengths
  17. Mindfulness and the ability to choose response
  18. Choosing Belonging over fitting-in (or fitting-out or rebelling)
  19. Be intentional with your energy
  20. Seek questions over answers
  21. Be comfortable being uncomfortable and embrace opportunities beyond the edge of your comfort-zone
  22. Be more you everyday
  23. Respect and Be a Stand for the Power of other People

Exploring the Practices

  1. Range

Rather than looking at things with a “Yes/No”, “Either/Or”, “Right/Wrong” lens, I’m curious about the range of options that lie in between. Spectrum

  1. Depth

Going beneath the surface question to the core issue at hand. Solving for a problem at the core only requires a 2-3% shift in direction that ends up leading to miles of difference at the surface level.

  1. Elevation

Some problems are easy or irrelevant when you go back to your higher purpose, mission, and objective.  Ability to reframe issues in light of what is truly important.

  1. Holding Multiple Truths

Rather than accepting other people’s set of either/or options (which are inherently disempowering and controlling), choose that both and more can be true.

Example: I thought I had to choose between Depth and Scale when it came to my business. Now, I’m choosing to “Scale Depth” by coaching people deeply and then making it available for others to also learn from via my podcast (https://niiamahashong.com/youtube)

  1. Non-attachment

Being unattached to the outcome. Any response is fine and completely within the power of another person to give. Yes or No is equally great.  And either option is not a reflection of me or the other people involved.

My self-worth is not tied to your response. I’m already great and will remain great regardless.

My only responsibility is to ask.

  1. Non-judgement

There are 2 sides of this: 1 – Not judging myself in the moment and 2 – Not judging others in the moment.

This one is tricky for me as I see it more through the lens of a distinction – Judgemental vs. Judgy.

Turns out I’m a judgemental person. I make judgements all the time.

The times where I give up my power is when I relinquish my ability to respond to that judgement.

When I don’t give myself any opportunities to modify my opinion, or when I charge forward impulsively solely based on a judgement, then I’m being Judgy.

In a way, it’s almost like being non-attached to the judgements formed (both the ones I control in my head AND the ones others form of me)

  1. Non-resistance

a) Follow you own path of least resistance, b) Don’t fight against your feelings, desires, and attachments, and c) Don’t fight against other people’s views, where:

a) speaks to honing and leveraging your unique talents and strengths,
b) speaks to going for what you want, and
c) speaks to allowing others to remain powerful in their views without letting that have power over you.

Responding vs. Reacting is a powerful disctinction here.

When Reacting, you are often in resistance to something. When Responding, it’s of your own volition.

  1. Being Present

Choosing to be in this moment and this moment only. Listening with the sole intent to listen rather than formulating your next thought or remark.

Paying attention to what’s not being said as much as what is being said

Being present with your body and what’s happening internally

  1. Choosing Vulnerability as a Strength rather than a weakness

“Perfect Vulnerability is Perfect Protection” – Rich Litvin.

Imagine standing before others naked without armor, shield or sword. And they still can’t hurt you.

Own what it is that you feel vulnerable about and then move forward.

Note: There’s meaningful vulnerability and vulnerability for the sake of being vulnerable. One of these is far more powerful than the other.

  1. Authenticity

Saying what no one else will say;

Seeing what no one else sees,

Doing what no one else does

Because that’s you.

  1. Courage

It takes courage to wield your power.

To practice any part of this has potential social and emotional repercussions. It often doesn’t feel safe to be powerful (counterintuitive right?).

Fear is rampant nowadays because it’s a strong way to exert power over a lot of people at the same time others. It’s also pervasive within us as we look to move to higher levels of being, influence, and impact.

Going back to non-resistance, rather than fighting the fear, it’s often more powerful to dance with the fear. The best dancing partner for Fear is Courage.

  1. Going for what you want

Rather than going for what you a) think you can get, b) think others will allow, or c) think is acceptable diminishes your power.

There are major societal pressures that make this hard, especially for certain groups of people.

Terms like “cocky”, “arrogant”, “not humble”, “pushy”, “unaware”, “steamroller”, and more are typically used to keep you from exerting your innate power.

Furthermore, we are often not practiced at all in even knowing what we want. I’ve asked this question in private coaching sessions, and it can bring people to tears.

This is where the practice of going for what you want becomes essential.

  1. Full Ownership (of self)

Take ownership of consequences AND benefits of your actions/beliefs.

What I found through practice was that I was able to own my part in the negative outcomes, but was quick to give away ownership of positive outcomes.

I said it so much, that I actually believed that I wasn’t a factor in the good things that happened to me.

Success due to “Luck”, “Serendipity”, “Right place, Right time”, all sound good and can show humility, but there’s a way to keep your power too by owning your role in leveraging the opportunity.

Full Ownership also may also look like you keeping others from rephrasing your sentences, or taking guilt upon themselves unnecessarily.

  1. Not Owning what others put on you

When others get triggered or feel the need to put you in your place, it’s more of a reflection on them than it is on you.

My practice now is to a) seek constructive triggering for myself and b) to offer them a chance to explore what hidden gifts and desires those responses bring up for them – and then help them to regain their power to bring those gifts and desires to life.

  1. Seek growth rather be right

Additive vs. Argumentative is the distinction here.

I’m constantly seeking opportunities where people are looking to grow themselves and our collective intelligence vs. environments where people are looking to prove themselves and validate their individual intelligence.

In fact, my goal for all conversations is to leave the conversation different than how I came in.

If I leave at the same level I came in, it wasn’t a constructive conversation for me.

Note: This is a lower bar than my true standard for every conversation which is to “co-create a life-changing experience”.

  1. Owning and Leveraging your Unique Strengths

Part of what adds to your power is your ability to have others around you be powerful.

By knowing and also bringing your unique gifts and talents to the table, you unconciously create more space for others to contribute their unique gifts and talents as well.

It also allows you to speak from fact and truth about what you can offer to a situation which is also a gift to people who are looking for support.

To me, this is one area I think we’re missing in the Diversity and Inclusion conversation.

The Return on Diversity and Inclusion comes not when you have different looking people doing things the same way.

The Return on Diversity and Inclusion comes when you have different people bringing their different strengths in a way that makes what you previously thought was possible obsolete.

  1. Mindfulness and the ability to choose response

Classic Steven R. Covey and his book ‘7 habits of Highly-Eeffective people’ : Responsibility = Response- Ability

(Aside: Just noticing that the name of the book wasn’t ‘7 habits of Highly-Efficient People’)

Freedom is a concept that I feel is strongly tied to power. When you have power, you feel free to do as you please. When you don’t have power, you don’t feel free to do what you want.

My definition of Freedom is: “Freedom is the ability to act upon your choices”.

So the practice of choosing how we want to respond is a practice of exercising freedom which is a practice of exercising power.

  1. Choosing Belonging over fitting-in (or fitting-out or rebelling)

(Huge thank you to Brene Brown for shining a light on this for me.)

This ties back to ownership and authenticity but now within the context of other people.

Choosing to belong to yourself (ownership and authenticity) and choosing to belong with others allows you to maintain your integrity and to show up with your whole-self.

In a world where people are striving to only show and curate their “best” self, the ability to show your WHOLE self is incredibly powerful.

When we are trying to “fit-in”, we ask what parts of us do we need to show here in order to be accepted.

When we choose to “belong”, we ask what gifts do I want to offer here as I know that I am loved, celebrated, and valued already for who I am.

Walking into any room knowing that you already belong with them because you already belong to yourself has been one of the most powerful changes in my practice.

  1. Be intentional with your energy 

It takes energy to show up powerfully and to put these practices into your life and work.

I’m not going to hide it from you: it’s incredibly confronting to choose to own your power.

There are a lot of costs to choosing to invest in yourself in this way. The easiest one typically ends up being financial investment actually.

There are emotional, psychological, relational, and time investments (to name a few) that are also involved.

It takes energy to be a stand for yourself and others.

Be the master of your energy.

  • Spend time cultivating it daily through your own rituals
  • Acknowledge and Minimize energy-drainers from your daily experience
  • Increase energy filling activities, people, habits, etc.
  1. Seek questions over answers

Author, Consultant, and Community Leader Peter Block shines a light on how disempowering ‘answers’ can be.

They reinforce a patriarchal, parent-child, expert-novice relationship where one person has the answers and the other is in need of it.

I often experience this with people offering advice that I haven’t asked for. Thanks but no thanks.

The thing is that we typically already know the answer but don’t have the courage to act on it.

I know this one intimately. Often times the answer I was really looking for was “You have my permission” or “I won’t reject you if you go for this and succeed.”

Practice being around people who can help you ask better questions of yourself.

This goes back down to Depth, Elevation, and Range – The surface level question is typically not where the powerful change resides.

  1. Be comfortable being uncomfortable and embrace opportunities beyond the edge of your comfort-zone

What lies ahead of you is more compelling than what lies behind you.

In the practice of owning your power, seeing the impact of your power beyond your everyday experience goes a long way.

Seek opportunities to grow yourself and discover more about yourself. It’s through that that you’ll gain confidence and you’ll also have experiences behind you.

  1. Be More You everyday

This is the core of it all for me. I have a deep-belief that if more people were comfortable owning all of who they were and how powerful they already were, we would have an end to most of societies issues and inequalities.

It’s hard for me to share on this as it’s core to everything I believe.

But the key components as it lies to a discussion on power is that there is ONLY ONE OF YOU, and there is no one else who is you.

The more you can own that one fact, the more powerful you become.

And the more than you grow your “you-niqueness”, the more rare and distinguished you become.

  1. Respect and Be a Stand for the Power of other People

Allow others to remain powerful in your presence and refuse to settle for anything less than their powerful self with you.  Another way of looking at it is “being a stand for their power”

Hidden indicators that someone is giving up their power to you:

  • “Sure” – This is insidious. It sounds like a “Yes”, but it really means “you choose for me” or “I’m a no to this, but I’ll go along either because I don’t feel I have a choice or to appear polite”
  • “Anyways” (at the end of a statement; quickly used to change topics after stating what they actually think)
  • “I don’t know” – WHEN THEY ACTUALLY DO KNOW! That’s why they said it in the first place

It dawned on me as I was sharing all of this just how powerful it is for all involved to hold other people as powerful as well.

I need to thank Rich Litvin, Chris Joseph, and the numerous coaches, communities, and individuals who have helped me learn and, more importantly, practice this consistently.

What is the #1 practice that would make the biggest difference for you if you implemented today? Let us know below.

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