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There are many kinds of leadership and power and I choose to focus on personal power for myself and with my clients – I call it InPower. InPower is that special ability leaders can develop to free themselves from the culture around them so they can choose where and how they place their energy in service to the world and themselves including, and especially, intentionally shaping the very culture they have freed themselves from. I choose to focus on InPower because:

  • it is useful in all aspects of life, not just business;
  • it tends to be infectious and helps bring the best out of everyone around you; and
  • no one can take it away from you.

Personal power is hard to see

It’s easy to comprehend external power. External power builds buildings and fights wars. Many of those wielding external power do have InPower, but not all, and it’s certainly not a prerequisite.

InPower is a life-long journey requiring wisdom and the courage to explore dimensions of power that many around you don’t see and don’t know how to appreciate until you do. This is the call of leaders, to push out ahead of others, find the treasure and bring its gifts back to the tribe.

Our dominant culture doesn’t train us to see InPower. For every Obi-Wan Jedi Knight, there are a thousand Luke Skywalkers in our media (and even Luke’s media story ended when he attained InPower and became a Jedi.) But Obi-Wan was right to cover Luke’s eyes to help him tap into the InPower within him. Because as hard as InPower is to see…

InPower is easy to feel

InPower is characterized by a sense of freedom to act in choice and at cause to the world around us. But what does freedom feel like? Many of us react to that question financially and we think when we have enough money not to have to work “for the man,” then we are free. But many people with money are not free – quite the opposite. While money can free us from some things, it can bind us to others (especially itself). No, freedom is an internal state and lucky for us it does not require riches to be attained.

Freedom actually feels like balance. If you’ve ever done yoga or a martial art, you know the sense of balance where you are – often for only a moment – effortless and can easily react to the world around you with choice and control – or choose not to act. No reaction is required to maintain balance but the choice to act is always there. Balance takes effort to develop and focus to maintain, but it is a powerful state of being. InPower is the same way.

There are many dimensions to developing this kind of InPower balance in our lives that support us in leading and changing the world. This series will explore at least the 15 dimensions of personal power I work with in InPower coaching, but the journey is unending. Not only may there be more than 15 dimensions, each person is unique and can easily find many layers within each dimension.

In upcoming weeks we’ll be exploring the tell-tale signs of how you know you’ve given your InPower away and what it feels like to take it back. We’ll also look for specific places to watch for power drains and some tips for taking it back in each area. Track the Take Back Your Power series of posts orsubscribe to the blog to be notified of these posts when they go up.

This post originally appeared on the Reclaiming Leadership blog. Sign up for my weekly newsletter, InPower Insights, for power-coaching advice, InPower surfing suggestions and recent blog posts.

Dana Theus