Discovering the Changing Meaning of Empowerment

Cecilia Meis

“Let go and let God.”

“Trust the process.”

“God grant me the serenity…”

Fairly common phrases, they serve as simple reminders to stop trying to control that which we can’t. I’ve said several of them in recent meetings with our team—perhaps with a more sarcastic interpretation.

You see, change is afoot at SUCCESS. You may have already seen some of the new faces and voices across our platforms. I’m excited for change but fear the unknown. Growth requires change, but when it happens unexpectedly, it’s not always welcome. After all, we all like routine. It helps us feel safe and comfortable and confident. It makes me wonder: Is it even possible to empower a team amid such chaos?

What is empowerment?

I wrestled with the idea because empowerment to me has always meant voice, action, strength. But let’s face it, those things can’t always happen in the real world. There are societal rules. There are workplace norms. There are political footings that need steadying. There are personal perceptions that could have ripple effects that end up causing more harm than good.

Maybe empowerment is different, bigger than I once imagined. Maybe it’s holding your tongue to keep the peace. Maybe it’s a quiet resolve to see the dust settle before taking action. Maybe it’s serving as a mediator even when the odds feel stacked. Maybe it’s an extra dose of support to remind people they’re not alone in feeling the chaos. Maybe it’s a calm surrender to that which is. I’m not sure these definitions of empowerment can be taught, but I think they can be felt and seen. After all, words can inspire, but actions build trust.

In one capacity or another, each and every person is in a leadership role: parents, teachers, managers, friends. There will always be someone who looks to you for guidance, spoken or otherwise. Maybe empowering those who look up to you is less about showing strength or voice or confidence, and more about speaking with truth and vulnerability, and then acting in accordance with that truth. That’s some change I could get behind.

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2023 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

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