It seems like you can’t go anywhere these days without hearing someone talk about empowerment. People say they wish they were more empowered. Nonprofits talk about empowering women and minorities. Companies promise to empower their employees.
Empowerment is the hot new buzzword- and people have high expectations for it. Empower people- with confidence, tools, skills or autonomy- and they’ll be successful. Or so the thinking goes.
But there are two big catches here that people don’t want to talk about.
The first is that, if you’re “empowered-” if you have everything you need to be successful- you’ll still fail sometimes. You’ll be turned down for a job. Your new coding project won’t work like it’s supposed to. You won’t be able to finish that marathon. Your latest article will suck.
You’ll still fail sometimes, because being empowered doesn’t mean guaranteed success. It makes you more likely to succeed, yes. But mostly it means you’re in control. And that also means it will be your fault when you fail.
That’s right. If you’re fully “empowered,” however you want to define that, it will be your fault if and when you fail- and you will, at least occasionally. You will have failed because you messed up, when you could and should have done something differently.
And here’s the real kicker: you have to want this. You have to want things to be your fault.
Naturally, most people don’t want things to be their fault. That feels bad. It’s much easier to duck responsibility. But if something is your fault, that also means you can change it. If it was your fault that you failed, that also means it’s within your power to do better next time.
To be empowered, and to truly enjoy the benefit of being empowered, you have to take full responsibility for all of your failures. Only then can you make full use of your own abilities.
You have to build the habit of taking responsibility for everything. That means changing the way you speak, but more importantly, changing your mental self-talk.
When you want something, you have to tell yourself this is within my power. I can do this, and whether I succeed or fail is up to me.
When you succeed, tell yourself I did this, and I can do it again.
When you fail- and this is the hard part- tell yourself I screwed up somewhere. And once I figure out what I did wrong, I can succeed next time.
As with any habit, taking responsibility requires practice. That’s why I created The Habit Change Cheat Sheet– to give people the tools to build any habit they want, and become successful at anything.
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Originally published at medium.com