Peeling The Layers Of The Onion. Let me state upfront that this blog is like peeling the layers of the onion, and depending on where you are in your journey of knowing yourself – you may see a different layer.
I have a little series of meetings at work titled – The empowered club, where we discuss videos regarding miscommunication, listening ecosystem and Empowerment. The primary reason I do this is that I absolutely love it. And second, this is what will bring about the much-needed change in people, which performance reviews and year-end feedback will never even come close to. Seriously, not sure why companies still stick to old-age rituals or even superstitions despite the fact that they haven’t worked for decades. Going back to The Empowered Club, one of the recurring themes has been brought up by associates and managers alike – what is Empowerment? What does it really mean?
What is the root word of Empowerment?
The word empower comes from the Old French prefix ‘en-‘ meaning ‘in, into’ and the root ‘power‘ which comes from the early 1300s, meaning ‘ability, strength, might’.
Oxford Dictionary meaning of Empowerment?
- Authority or power is given to someone to do something.
- The process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.
For me, Empowerment is personal mastery – mastery over self because what else can one be master of? I am paraphrasing the story that comes to mind. A zen master’s way of showing the students what enlightenment was to put some sugar on their tongues and ask them to hold it. And if it dissolved, they did not have enough mastery, and if the sugar remained without mixing in the saliva, then they had personal mastery.
Or another story I like is
One disciple is bragging about his master to the disciple of another master. He claims that his teacher is capable of all sorts of magical acts, like writing in the air with a brush and having the characters appear on a piece of paper hundreds of feet away. “And what can YOUR master do?” he asks the other disciple. “My master can also perform amazing feats,” the other student replies. “When he’s tired, he sleeps. When hungry, he eats.”
I tell these two stories to highlight the fact that there is so much we don’t know about our bodies and minds. And at the end of the day, this is what matters absolutely the most. But, we are at work, so we need to speak in a language that can be applied to work – how would this translate into work?
The video that defines my view of the video is at this link. It is a famous video of a submarine leader who vowed never to give another order. And anytime somebody on his team came to ask a question – he would turn it around and say – what do you think? That’s the ultimate definition of Empowerment – each of us thinking on our own. I hate to say, but I am sure there are some minds out there who will say – ‘well if we just do our own thing, how will we collaborate?’ My response to that – think for yourself – what do you think?
Unfortunately, our societal upbringing is such that we have been taught to follow orders and not figure out what to do. We want solutions to be given to us, not infer what the solution might be. Gone are the days when one person or entity, like religion, clubs, or government, could decide what is suitable for all of us. I mean, look at history – if it had worked that way, we wouldn’t be where we are right now with a war, COVID, and racism… So, it is about time we did something different – What is your response to that?