I had the distinct pleasure of attending the ICAN (Institute for Career Advancement Needs) Women’s Conference yesterday in Omaha, Nebraska. And I say this not simply because I was one of about 50 men amongst 1800 driven, successful, talented women, but because most of the things I learned there transcended gender. I heard incredible speakers—from Pattie Sellers, editor at Fortune Magazine, to Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, to Elizabeth Gilbert, renowned author of the book Eat, Pray, Love. All of these women struck me as leaders, not women-leaders, and the themes that I heard from the day were prescient calls to action for anyone in business.
One of the most insightful and influential takeaways I received was the idea of how power is defined. Lunch keynote speaker Pattie Sellers described incredibly successful women business leaders, like Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, and Oprah, as not always comfortable with the idea of power—what it really meant and how they could best utilize it. She went on to say, though, that power must first come from within—power, in business or life in general, is about personal power.
It’s an idea that I love, not simply because I work for a company whose products and ideas are derived from the notion that each of us has a unique brilliance which cannot be boxed in or replicated. A person’s brilliance can though, be better understood—by themselves and others—and leveraged to create greater satisfaction and hopefully more success. It’s about uncovering the aspects inherent to you, your way of thinking about the world and your work, and understanding how to translate that knowledge into power. In this case, like those promos from the 80’s, knowledge is power.
The whole concept of power being personal power at its core is almost revolutionary, though; we traditionally think of power as how to influence others or how to get others to do something they may or may not want to do in order to fulfill a goal. The key difference here is that these things are really the manifestations of power; true power is the ability to know yourself and understand what matters to you and why you want to accomplish something.
My resolution, coming from this conference, is to look at myself more deeply to truly uncover the unique aspects of myself that I can find power in, and then use those qualities to create a positive influence in my own work.
For more info on this conference, check out the following links: