This week I decided to continue talking about Own Your Power for Mastery Monday. When I speak about this topic in my negotiation training’s or keynotes this is the first strategy I share about, and it’s sometimes misunderstood.
Owning your power isn’t about being a bully or pushing other people around. It’s about standing up for yourself and not letting someone else take advantage of you in a given situation or being strong enough in your position that in the moment of discussion you don’t give in and get a bad deal.
That deal could be a big contract, whether or not you get a refund for a substandard product/service or challenging a grade on an assignment at school. All these things require you to stand up for yourself. To do that you have to own your power within yourself. For some that can be fearful and cause a feeling of anxiety. If you’re not used to standing up for yourself and challenging something it can feel uncomfortable. You have to push past the discomfort which is what owning your power is all about.
One of my clients had moved out of his place and the landlord short changed him $1,000 on the deposit. He gave no reason why, no letter with deductions, didn’t do the requested walk through that is a tenant right in the California Landlord Tennant Code and simply sent a check with a made-up amount. There was no documentation to back up the deductions with facts which is also required by the code.
He asked for my help in getting the deposit back and told me the facts surrounding the situation. I advised him to do some research and contact a certain agency and then construct a letter detailing his rights in accordance with the code. During the process he was very anxious. It didn’t feel comfortable to him to fight back in this manner. He decided he would take the landlord to court if he didn’t respond. He prepared a letter, included the check the landlord had sent and sent it certified. This was a big step for him that in the past he would not have done. He would have let it go and not fought back. The landlord contacted him in a panic and immediately sent a check for the entire deposit.
My client felt empowered, confident and now has less fear about standing up for himself in those types of situations. The first time we do something there is usually the fear of the unknown. Many times, people stop here and turn and run away. You can choose to do that and never face that fear, but if you face it and push through it, you will feel a sense of courage that will carry with you into other things.
One thing I recommend people do to push past that fear is to do something on your “adventure list” (aka bucket list) that is challenging or do something that forces you out of your comfort zone. Being out of your comfort zone can feel stressful or make you feel anxious or like a fish out of water. When you face your fear and do the thing that you are fearful of, you give yourself more confidence which carry’s over into other areas of your life and enables you to stand up for yourself easier and with more confidence and power.
I did something recently that made me feel out of place, uncomfortable and like I didn’t belong at first. I started taking an acting class. I’ve been a speaker for a long time and I’ve done some silly characters in my Think Like A Negotiator training, but I’ve never done any acting, theater, plays or anything at anytime in my life. Not even in school. When I was a kid I was so timid and shy because of living with a raging alcoholic mother and a passive alcoholic father. I constantly heard in my formative years (aka the imprint period) that I was no good, a loser and going to be sent away to boarding school. To do anything where I was in front of people was paralyzing. People made fun of me, called me names and treated me badly. I wanted to hide in the back and never be seen.
The fact that I’m a speaker today is a miracle in and of itself. So, there I was in the acting class. I loved the people and after auditing 2 classes I decided to sign up for the class to make me a better speaker. In this class you are paired with a scene partner and you choose a scene from a movie, TV show or script. My first few scenes I was shaking inside and felt a lot of fear but did it anyway. When I say a lot of fear, my heart was racing and after I was done I was so shaky I had to do some structured breathing to calm down.
The thing is I sat there in class week after week and thought “what am I doing here with all these talented actors? I don’t belong here, I should quit.” I felt like a fish out of water flopping around in my own fear and self-doubt. Some of those old fears came back and my thoughts were trying to sabotage me. I could have quit and given up. The old me might have made that choice but guess what? I stayed anyway and thought I really didn’t care how uncomfortable it felt I was going to keep doing it because the alternative was to sit at home on a Friday night by myself doing nothing. I’d done that long enough. If I never set foot in front of a camera as an actor, I will still be much better off for facing my fears and pushing through it to become a better version of me. I have a new group of genuine friends who have become my family and they support me, believe in me and care about me.
I am sharing this with you because many people see me as this person who never struggles with anything. I have my struggles like anyone else. We all have struggles, it’s how we handle them that counts. So, own your power and don’t let fear keep you from having a better experience in life. You will be a better version of you and happier in the long run.
Life is short, get out and enjoy it!
To Your Success