Blog Post


Break Through Your Work Barriers

Hello Friend!

Today we’re giving you access to a proprietary tool that is an absolute favorite of our clients. The CEO’s and executives we work with say this tool not only helped them decrease conflict and achieve better results but it’s impact was so powerful that it changed them forever.  It’s called, “Finding your BE or Barrier to Empowerment. If you’ve ever shrunk under pressure, watered yourself down, or felt constricted and conflicted due to a situation at work (and let’s face it, we all have), this tool can help.  With so many barriers in life, many of which are out of your control, it’s nice to know that when it comes to your own empowerment, the choice is always yours.  

Before you discover your BE and unlock the door to more satisfaction and power at work, let’s make sure we are on the same page about what we mean when we say empowerment.  

Empowerment is not only the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling your life and claiming your rights, it’s taking aligned action with what you say matters to you. Said another way, Empowerment is taking necessary risks in order to achieve your goals and desires.

It’s also important to know that your Barrier to Empowerment (BE) is not an external obstacle, such as not having the resources you need, like finances, etc. Your BE is an invisible personal wall that makes you feel uncomfortable, resistant, fearful or anxious and stops you from taking the self-empowered action (risk) towards what you want.

Although it’s certain you have felt the uncomfortable feelings generated by your BE, you most likely are unconscious about what it is. This kind of barrier is a little sneaky and typically hides just under the surface of your awareness. For example; If I asked you what has stopped you from taking action on something important to you in the past, you might answer, “I was afraid because….” and then elaborate by telling a story about it. Then, you might blame something  or someone for your inability to act. “I don’t like expressing myself in front of those people because I don’t feel that my work has been appreciated or valued.” for example.

Notice that although the source of the uncomfortable feeling is being described and you have a reason, it doesn’t help you feel any better. That’s because it’s  just a description of what stops you. The real barrier lies beneath the story. When you discover your BE, it will instantly create a sense of well being within you. Ready to find yours?

Your Barrier To Empowerment can be found by completing the sentence below:

I would rather be ______________ than  be seen as _________ and risk being ____________ .

Sounds simple right? But before you answer, let’s take a look at a couple examples as practice.

 Example #1

Samantha is a nurse on the surgical ward. She has only been there 5 months but has noticed that again and again patients are delayed from getting to the Operating Room (OR) on time because hemoglobin, hematocrit and electrolytes were not completed prior to the anesthesiologist taking the patient to the OR.  She fears having the conversation with an older charge nurse, Josephine, who has run the show in the OR staging area for many years.

It seems obvious that Samantha should approach the charge nurse. Yet, something is stopping her from speaking up.  What might her Barrier to Empowerment be? Is it;

Security? (Samantha has only been in the position 5 months)

Acceptance? (Samantha is unsure of how the Charge nurse feels about her and wants to fit in)

Control? (Samantha fears she’ll communicate poorly)

It could be any of the above, but Samantha will only discover her BE if she completes the sentence with honesty and integrity. Ultimately only Samantha will know which is the right one. She might try:

I would rather BE secure than be seen as a complainer and risk getting reprimanded. 

I would rather BE accepted than be seen as a “know it all”  and risk being alienated. 

I would rather BE in control than be seen as stupid and risk rejection. 

Your BE is personal to you. When you discover it, it will be confirmed when you recall many of the past decisions you have made. The point is to play with different options and observe yourself  as you’re stopped from acting in other situations, until you realize what it truly is. 

At this point you may be thinking, “Can you have more than one BE?” The answer to this question is that there could be a hierarchy of BE’s, but only one that really stops you. In Samantha’s case “BE secure” may be disguised as “BE accepted”, because when she feels accepted, she is secure.  Get it?

It’s important to note that you don’t always have to speak up and overcome your barrier in order to benefit from knowing what it is.  The awareness alone frees you up from spending time blaming others or feeling powerless. Your choice and power to act are always yours like Donna’s example below.

Example #2

Donna recognizes that her personal barrier is BE safe. She wants to have a conversation with her boss to discuss a possible promotion but she also doesn’t want to come across as presumptuous or demanding and risk losing her job. Donna decides to choose safety over having the discussion about the promotion.

Even though she decides not to broach the subject of promotion with her boss, Donna is still ok. She was mindful of her barrier, made an informed choice, and took full responsibility and accountability for not attaining a higher-level position at her company without  excuses or blame.  

The next month, Donna decides that she wants to pursue the promotion again. She knows that In order for her to get the promotion, she must detach her need to BE safe from her self‐empowerment. Donna will have to take the risk aka. empowered action.  

Here are a few more examples of BEs that our clients have shared to get you thinking;

I would rather be accommodating than be seen as mean or rude and risk being rejected.

I would rather be quiet than be seen as controlling or difficult and risk being alone.

I would rather be aggressive than be seen as weak or a pushover and risk being controlled.

To sum it all up, you are self‐empowered when during a moment of uncertainty or doubt in a situation, you can say:

  1. I recognize my barrier to self‐empowerment.
  2. I choose to detach (or not) from my barrier.
  3. I will take the risk in order to produce the results that I want or be accountable for not taking it.

Without this knowledge, more often than not, people tend to unconsciously choose their BE over their heartfelt commitments and when asked “why they didn’t act”, make up an excuse or reason.  The good news is, knowing your personal barrier actually makes taking empowered action on what matters to you much easier because you know the real reason you feel uncomfortable when you don’t. 

We’d love to hear your thoughts or personal experience with this tool if you decide to try it out. If you have questions about it, please submit them to  “Ask Patricia”, our new advice column focused on helping you Win at Work. 

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