A lot has been said in recent years about empowerment… and what that means, exactly, is very subjective. But one thing is for sure. There has never been a greater need for it.

In over 20 years of examining workplace dynamics, never before have I sensed a greater need among women and men for a more invigorated self worth. This is why I have lately added the moniker of “empowerment zealot” to further define my passions.

Dreamstime
Source: Dreamstime

I believe much of this is due to a more frenetic and complex world – driven by the pervasiveness of technology in our work and personal lives. (Granted, we would never forfeit the rewards of the digital age.)

Texting has become a crutch for avoiding conflict. But how often does that backfire in daily life when in lieu of needed discussions?

One mistaken emoticon – a new emotional currency for many – or unanswered text, can destroy an entire workday, evening, or have even longer-range impact, creating much anxiety. Emotional intelligence is at a premium, because too many people are taking to heart what they read (or don't read) in a 10-word text or 140-character tweets.

Our lightening speed communications and increased productivity have come with a price; greater dehumanization in how we interrelate – which can drag down confidence and a perceived ability to succeed. Poor interpersonal communications can create a backdrop of mistrust and fear that keep you from being vibrant and ready for positive change; unless you take steps to counter it. You have the power to shape your environment, making it fertile for achieving your goals.

Here are some tips to consider on becoming more empowered in your work and life:

8 Steps to Build Empowerment

Define what success and happiness looks like. Success in business and in life means something different to everyone. Decide what brings you joy and put aside all the “what if's.” Ensure that your business and personal goals are aligned. Knowing your passion and taking steps to embrace it, no matter how small the steps, will give you greater control and inner power.

Humanize Your Communications. It can be hard to remember, but technology is a tool that should enhance, not detract from good communications. You can set the example by leaving sensitive communications to live conversations. Your counterparts will likely respond in kind.

Let go of fear. Fear could be the single most critical barrier between you and a life of contentment. Be the one who bravely communicates with colleagues, and you won't be disappointed.

And if you’re anxious about changes ahead, consider that fear may well be a sign of progress – in disguise. The happiest people look at fear as speed bumps that advance to the next stage. Thomas Jefferson made a poignant statement about empowerment: “If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done.”

Listen to others, but stay on course. Naysayers were put on this planet to put obstacles in your way. Your task is to take advice under consideration, but continue moving forward, undeterred, as your pursue your dreams. Remember that 10 percent of a setback consists of what happens to you; 90 percent is how you react.

Design your career objectives based on your needs, not those of others. What would bring you the greatest long-term satisfaction – without being afraid of affecting others (a self-imposed barrier?) Too many people become reliant on the wrong advisers when pursuing their dreams. The easiest path is to give up or do “what others expect” you to, even though they may mean well.

Allow your career and personal dreams to take their course. Placing undue stress on yourself to become an overnight success or trying to do it 10 times faster than what’s humanly possible, can be self-destructive. If you often feel stuck, you may have to ratchet down your tendency for over-achievement, allowing yourself to be successful in realistic, healthy ways.

Embrace chaos. Comfort is the nemesis of progress. Disruption can be the sign of important changes about to present themselves and good things often come in unexpected ways. Move forward, even if the path is daunting or unclear – because if it doesn't frighten you, you’re probably not advancing.

Check your surroundings. Surround yourself with positive people and information that keep your passion and engine alive with excitement, even through the toughest times. Good friends and colleagues will respect and encourage your dreams, and provide a buffer when you’re down. In turn, remember to be there for them.

Once you help create an environment that boosts your personal growth – and commit to welcoming the unknown – you're on the path to greater empowerment and fulfillment.

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