In our organizational work, Jamie and I frequently hear people talk about the elusive quality of “empowerment.” Managers ask about techniques they can use for “empowering” those that report to them. Employees discuss their yearning to be empowered by their bosses. They look upward or outward, hoping someone will proffer power, like a monarch bestowing knighthood. Yet, like Glenda the Good witch tells Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, “You had the power all along, my dear.”
Everyone comes into the world with all the power there is, yet many people fail to see it. They don’t understand it’s right there. Your power is self-contained. You don’t even need to plug it in — the source is always burning, ever present, waiting to be unveiled. Ready to light up the world.
Waiting for someone to “empower” you is a waste of time. Thinking your “empowerment” is in the hands of someone else is like sitting in a dark, windowless room, waiting for someone else to open the door so you can walk out and bask in sunlight. The sun has always been there — but clouds of self-doubt, curtains of helplessness and walls of fear cover it up. You may feel it is safer to hide your light in an underground bunker, but what is the cost to you? And to the world?
We have been schooled to believe that what we need is “out there.” In fact, everything we need is “in here.”
One of the reasons I was drawn to yoga was that it isn’t about finding and fixing your flaws, but about recognizing and developing your infinite power and limitless potential.
After so many years of believing messages about the importance of fixing my imperfections, it was nice to begin understanding that I am whole and perfect. Bad habits and flaws aren’t me, they are just things that don’t serve me well. The practices of yoga — living its guiding principles, breathing, postures, meditation — provide the means to burnish an existent light.
You don’t need someone else to knock down walls to reveal your light. You can open your own door. You don’t need an electrical outlet to plug into, or a benevolent witch to wave a wand, or even sparkling ruby slippers. You can tap into your source by taking a mindful breath, closing your eyes — or just remembering that it is there.
Alice Walker wrote “The most common way people give up their fear is by thinking they don’t have any.”