"I am what I will be" -- Ex. 3:14
The Pirke Avot ("Sayings of the Fathers"), asserts, "Who is he that is mighty? He who subdues his [evil] inclination." The sages have taught that anything taken to excess and, thereby, deviates from the balance of creation is evil. Then, an empowered person is one who has self-control that is directed to maintaining balance. The same view is echoed in Kabbalah, Yoga, Zen Buddhism and other metaphysical systems.
We will now apply the concepts that we have derived from the Kabbalistic model of the Sefirot to the process of empowerment. These are the principles of balance and connection that lead to: 1) the morality of "respect your neighbor as yourself", 2) the justice of "measure for measure" and 3) the acquisition of the knowledge of God's governance found in "you shall be holy; because I the Lord your God am holy".
The statement from the Pirke Avot implies three major steps to empowerment. The first is that no one can empower you. Only you can empower yourself. The second asserts that empowerment comes from the acquisition of self-control (or self-discipline). Finally, empowerment must be directed toward a purpose beyond oneself in order to be realized.
The first step is to recognize that no one can empower you. Others can delegate power to you. However, the power still rests with the delegator. You are still dependent on the delegators for your power. They can withdraw that power at their will. Teachers can show you the way to power. However, they cannot make the journey for you.
You can make the choice to use delegation of power and teaching on your path to power. A teacher can provide you with guidance. You must apply that guidance to achieve your own empowerment. Delegated power can provide an apprenticeship to power. Through it, you can learn to enhance your own power by learning to develop it in the midst of the world in which you live. This, too, depends on your choice.
In a recent article, Jack Welsh, former CEO of GE, provided an example of the characteristics a person can develop during this "apprenticeship". "Everyone knows that to succeed in today’s competitive global marketplace, you also have to be smart, curious, and highly collaborative. You have to be able to work with diverse teams and ignite them as a manager to excel together. You need heaps of positive energy, the guts to make tough yes-or-no decisions, and the endurance to execute—get the job done. And, indeed, you do have to possess self-confidence and humility at the same time. That combination is called maturity."
Achievement requires self-control. A great athlete is focused on beating his/her last performance. This is true for any achiever. In a world of competition, you achieve when you are your primary competitor.
Clearly, achievement requires self-confidence. You must believe in yourself in order to achieve. As the boxer Sugar Ray Leonard said, "A champion is someone who knows he's a champion before anyone else does". Self- confidence grows from self-awareness. When you can recognize your strengths, and talents, then you have the foundation for self-confidence.
However, it also requires the humility of seeing and dealing with your limitations. There are two types of limits, those we can overcome and those we cannot. The former are related to our talents and strengths. Overcoming these provides the motivation for further achievement. The latter are natural limitations. For example, some people have musical talent, others do not. To try to overcome lack of talent is futile. Children of very talented people do not, necessarily, possess the talents of their parents. There is something intrinsically mysterious about talent. This underscores the importance of recognizing your strengths.
Humility is also needed in competition with others. If your own biases block you from seeing others as they really are, you will be at a disadvantage.
Thus, empowerment requires the balance of self-confidence and humility. However, something is lacking in this discussion. As any parent knows, an infant is born with no self-control. It is dependent on others to fulfill its needs. What is the source of the self-control that will lead to its empowerment?
-- To be continued. –
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