Sunday, December 4, 2016

"Empowerment Is An Intransitive Verb"

Sometimes we don't act in way that we are capable of because we feel we someone to empower us or allow us to do something we are perfectly capable of doing anyway. We talk about being empowered to do something as if we are dependent upon someone giving their permission or authorizing us to act in a certain capacity. That simply is not the way it needs to happen.

Of course, we can say that someone specifically empowered us to do something by specifically granting us permission - as if it was theirs to give - but that does not need play out in this way. Generally, we might seek someone's permission as a courtesy, but they cannot empower us.

Empowerment comes from the inside. It is a trait within us. We feel empowered and emboldened. No one grants us this power. No one endows us. No one touches us on the shoulder with a sword as if knighting us. If we don't feel so led or directed, all of the commands in the world to seize power and use it won't matter.

So many people feel that someone has to grant them the power to be bold or that they need to receive and be granted an invitation to act boldly. Quite the opposite is true. To be empowered, just decide that this is an area in which we want to exert ourselves and exercise some responsibility, if not authority, and then act to make it happen.

Empowerment is nothing more than acting in a responsible way to accomplish or take on something we feel capable of doing. If we feel that something is beyond us, we would not feel any power to take it on. That's how it works. Again, if someone told us that we could do something - a physical feat perhaps - and we really didn't think this was possible, we would not feel any empowerment. It's not inwardly directed act us from the outside, it's outwardly projected by us toward what we are undertaking. That's empowerment.

In a word, empowerment is taken. It is assumed. It is not granted or conferred.

When we enter someone's home to do an evaluation or assessment, we don't need for them to allow us to get to work. We don't take our direction from them except as it relates to defining areas of concern. We don't need them to enable us to use our expertise. We already have that. Now, we just need to let it come forth and use it for their overall benefit in looking at their home and making reasonable recommendations about what would make it better and more enjoyable for them.

To complete a renovation project, we rely on our expertise and our level of confidence - that earned through study, practice, and execution. We are not relying on the homeowner empowering us - in fact they really can't do this. 

Empowerment is intransitive - it can't be conveyed to anyone or anything. It has no outward source. It comes from the inside. it is assumed or adopted. We just decide that we feel competent to do an activity and seize the power or ability that is required to make it happen.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, C,E,A,C, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.