Abuse of Power
Power’s not given to you. You have to take it.
— Beyoncé Knowles Carter
The other day, as I prepared for an exercise class, one of my fellow participants told the instructor: “I haven’t done this in a while, and I’m feeling pretty stiff today.” Her response: “Everyone has a disclaimer.”
A definition of disclaimer on Google is “a statement that denies something, especially responsibility.” In the case of my exercise compadre, he was creating an excuse for why he was possibly not going to perform at his best when he began his exercise program. Plausible, perhaps, but an excuse, nonetheless.
This reminded me of the many times in my life that I may have set myself up for less than optimum performance by creating an excuse before I even got started. Sometimes I even verbalized my excuse out loud so that my audience or fellow workers were fully aware that I was not to be blamed or held responsible for lackluster performance...or so I thought.
As my exercise instructor’s words took root in my brain and wound through the memory channels of my professional life, I was able to pinpoint many times that I allowed myself a disclaimer to offset possible poor performance.
For example, on one occasion when I traveled 3,000 miles to deliver a workshop, I was jet-lagged and exhausted before I even stood up to begin teaching. I announced to my class: “Just want to let you know that I’m feeling a bit bleary today and maybe not as sharp as I usually am. Sleep-deprivation has me under the weather.” Why did I feel the need to announce this? Why did I give myself an excuse for less than optimum performance? Yet, not all of my disclaimer was publicly stated. The internal voice that minimized my potential and my power was likely louder than the other possible voice whispering I was a competent professional with a message to share and information to impart.
In looking back, I wonder if I set myself for substandard teaching thereby depriving my audience of a quality classroom experience.
The next time you’re about to take the stage or in some way establish your own bearing as an authority or fully engaged participant, be mindful of the disclaimer your unconscious might be muttering which completely negates your own power.
Replace disclaimers with powerful affirmations that will help you overcome lapses in self-confidence or peak performance. Learn from them rather than give in to them. Make the unconscious conscious and then replace the negative voices.
Stop abusing your power. Next time, rebel against that voice that undermines your power. Give yourself credit for what you know and the strength to be who you are.
Hello, I’m Janet, career coach, writer, workshop leader.
I help women create their best lives through personal writing.