11 June, 2010

'E' is for "EMPOWERMENT"

Empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social, or economic strength of individuals and communities. It often involves the empowered developing confidence in their own capacities.

Even after I've committed myself to personal development during the past two years, I found myself terrified of that word. Not on me mind you, hell, I've spent the past two years equipping myself with tools in order to empower myself in my endeavors. No, what terrified me the most about that word was within the context of my purpose in life. As part of most personal development courses, a mission statement or a statement of purpose is normally stated and declared. I spent a good amount of time avoiding the word "empower" in such a personal statement. It means my willingness and choice to accept responsibility in creating an environment for others to develop their own personal power, and that scared the hell outta me.

Whenever someone asked me what my mission statement or purpose was, I tell them "the 3 'E's: Entertain, Educate, and Empower." Through my entertaining and performance skills, my audience is simultaneously educated and empowered. The bottom line is that this past weekend, I realized that entertaining and educating was merely a tool for my true calling and purpose: to empower others. Of course I need to empower myself first. That's a given. I cannot give away what I do not have. It's a lot like Love. You're not able to effectively love others until you're able to love yourself. Funny how empowerment and love go hand-in-hand. No accident there. Yes, I acknowledge that. That's what frightened me in the first place. Who did I think I was to feel that if I empowered myself, I would in turn empower others? Then again, how can anyone NOT empower others when they empower themselves?

When I use the word "empower," I do not mean it in the sense that one must "squash" others in order to rise up. That's not empowerment at all actually. Stomping on others isn't a display of empowerment, it's a sign of fear and insecurity. I'm defining "empowerment" as "as I rise up, I will support you to rise up, and as a result, we BOTH have more to give not only to each other, but to everyone else around us." To go further I really believe that whenever someone defeats or stomps on the perceived competition and they develop some form of confidence, that form of confidence is false because it's merely masking their insecurity.

So why wasn't I convicted in utilizing the word "empower" in my personal mission statement. Well isn't it clear? Why else wouldn't I use that specific word, or utilize it within only a secondary context? It was obvious. I wasn't empowered myself to confidently place that word as a primary purpose. My initial primary purpose and mission was "to entertain, educate, and empower." Now my mission is "Empower others to develop their wholeness through the means of the performing arts, entertainment, and experiential education."Yes, I'll admit my mission statement is still a work in progress like myself.

One may wonder why I am so adamant about my acting career and where it fits in to my mission or purpose. Some even wondered if I truly have an acting career at all. I can say that acting was one of the means were I felt safe enough to give myself permission to truly be myself, and as a result, I was empowered. (There goes THAT word again!!!) Truthfully, acting was an art form where I felt enabled to become a whole person and I can still feel the growth of myself that acting provides. Can I walk away from pursuing acting as a career and still find outlets to act in order to grow and empower myself? Yes, it is possible. However, I've set goals in the field that I would rather give my all pursuing them rather than to merely walk away right now. I'm not ready to hang it up yet.

From this day forward, all that I do financially, performance wise, projects, ect, I will ask myself one question: How will this empower myself and others if I decide to do this. As long as I can be honest to myself with the answer, the sky is the limit.

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