In the 1980s and 1980s, money and wine flowed in private sector industry.
Organizations would send training specialists like me to the U.S. to Training and Organization Development conferences and workshops so that we could bring knowledge back to our Canadian-led companies.
It was a great time for learning from the best.
At 33, I was new to medium-sized corporations and green as could be.
Luckily, my boss sent me to New Jersey to join others for a Flawless Consulting Workshop with the incomparable Peter Block.
By then, Peter was a well-known consultant, author and educator who had published Flawless Consulting and The Empowered Manager, and he would weave their principles into the workshop.
As well as teaching and having us practice the stages of consulting, Peter also had us delve into the role of the consultant.
Namely, he wanted us to understand that consultants did not have the power to make decisions and change the culture; they could only influence and share their expertise.
This was a stark and stunning revelation for many of us, partly because of the plain and matter-of-fact way that he presented it.
He was trying to help us undoubtedly grasp that those who had the money had the power.
No legitimate power
I had to let it sink in.
Now I saw why I’d felt increasingly downhearted and discouraged with certain parts of my work.
I had no power.
But as usual, I had no intention to stay in that discomfort, and I asked him what we could do about it.
Here’s the gist of what he said.
“Executives and leaders will do what they will do.
As a consultant – in your corner, with your team, with your colleagues – you can live by your ethics and values to the full extent that you can.
You can bring your principles and ideas, speak your truth, and stand for what’s important in your direct sphere of influence.”
And so, by clarifying the boundaries and limits of the role, and encouraging us to do what we could do, he restored our sense of personal power and efficacy.
That day, the participants and I learned that we could be ourselves in any organization – and in anywhere in our lives – through the integrity of our values and principles.
Empowerment was a choice we could make at any time.
How then do you take this beyond the context of a workshop?
It can be so easy to become jaded and exasperated by what we see and experience in any environment and context.
We can focus on what’s not working, complain about leadership, bemoan the state of our community.
Throw in the whole wide world and depression will be your best buddy.
Or, you can come from an inner stance and principles that add something valuable and helpful.
The way of the poor-me-ain’t-they-awful victim, or the path of owning your life and creating from there.
Relinquishing wholehearted involvement and action means that your contribution misses an opportunity to add value that could spread.
You may just influence someone above you who does have the money and power in your organization to make a difference.
Or, you can create something better from exactly where you are.
You can add beauty and goodness – if that’s your value and desire.
Or take a stand for what matters to you.
You can even be the kind of person you wish they or anyone out there would be.
Maybe someone will find inspiration because of your actions and spirit today?
Perhaps you’ll add value and heart wherever you go.
It’s a decision and a choice to contribute to life, and an easier choice than you might think.
And if you don’t find it easy, there are plenty of coaches and mentors to free your mind and elevate your spirit.
We need you.
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