One of my absolute favorite quotes is by artist and author Alice Walker. Before we go into the actual quote and its meaning, let’s first take a quick look at this amazing gal’s life. Alice Walker, most famous for her book The Color Purple, is an African American woman who grew up during the Jim Crow laws. If you’re not familiar with these laws, they were state and local laws to enforce segregation in the South. One of the most unfortunate results of these laws was that black children were discouraged from, or even punished for, their attempts to learn how to read or write. Not only were Alice’s dreams hampered by the times, but she also had to deal with being blind in one eye, which made her self-conscious, quiet and shy. Despite all of this, Alice had and has firm beliefs in where true happiness, power and leadership come from. The quote I’m referring to is: “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”Information
Think about this quote for a moment, then think about your typical day. How often do you say things like, “He made me so mad!” or “She really knows how to push my buttons.”? We usually say things like this without really thinking, but what we’re really doing when we think like this is giving up our power.
Why did he make you so mad? Because you let him. How was she able to push your buttons? Because you let her. You and only you have the power to control how you feel and how you react and when someone ‘makes’ you feel a certain way, it’s only because you are giving them the power to do so.
This quote has everything to do with perspective, which is the topic of this series of articles. When we hear ‘perspective’, we often think of the perspective of what we see when we look at things from a different angle or, if we really think we’re being deep, seeing things from someone else’s point of view. While these are technically accurate, perspective is nothing less than the entire way we perceive the world, our place in it and how this leads to how we interact with the world each and every day.
Sounds pretty heavy, huh? Well, it can be. Especially if you are stuck in one of the lower levels and are dealing with every aspect of life in a catabolic, defensive way. But before we get there, let’s take a closer look on why our perspective is so crucially important.
We are exposed to thousands of choices every day: what to have for breakfast, whether to go to work or call in sick, how to deal with our child who won’t get dressed, etc. etc. As we discussed earlier, we’re also given the choice of how to react to others: what do we do when our boss yells at us, when our friend ditches us for lunch, when our spouse doesn’t listen to a request we make? All of this relates back to Alice’s quote. If we believe we have the power to choose our perspective, we can choose how we view the world and all of these decisions suddenly become much easier (and more positive).
It’s impossible to think through every single decision and decide our perspective on it. 99 percent of the time, we only have time to react. And where do those reactions stem from? That’s right! Our perspective. If our perspective is stuck in a lower level, we are reacting from a place of powerlessness where we feel like a victim. On the flip side, if we’ve elevated our perspective to the higher levels, we instead view experiences as opportunities and we stop taking everything so personally.
Pretty easy to choose which one we want for ourselves, right? Well, while it is simple, that doesn't necessarily mean it’s easy. We’ll learn more about that as we explore the different levels and how to transition through them in this series of posts. Are you ready to learn more about how to ditch that victim mentality and embrace some transcendence?? Stay tuned for my next article. This is going to be fun!
The information in this series of posts is adapted from iPEC teaching on the 7-Levels of Leadership. Click here to learn more.
Trish Cody has over 18 years of experience consulting with some of the world’s top Fortune 500 Companies. Today, as an ICF and iPEC Certified Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Trish works with clients to uncover their core values and beliefs, clearly see how they are showing up in their behaviors and impacting their success, and to shift their thinking to naturally attract positivity and success. For more information, visit www.TrishCody.com.