Principle 1. Draw on Inner Strength

This principle is all about “getting centered.” But what does “getting centered” mean? To begin with it means that the process involves you finding inner calm, the place where you experience your own most fundamental stability, confidence, maturity and self-awareness. This is your emotional “home base,” a place where you both flexible and powerful. Think of someone who distances herself for a moment from the turbulence of an argument in order to reflect and find personal renewal and serenity. That person is drawing on inner strength through an experience of what could be called “best self” or “true self.” This usually represents remembering one’s own most strongly felt core values such as integrity, authenticity, compassion and humanity. But it is often more than these emotions and values, too. As people learn more about what it means to draw on their inner strength they find an access point to the “ground of being” from which we all spring as individuals. By acting from this access point, we become freer to contribute to the world authentically.

Claiming your inner strength also implies that you fully accept what is, first without trying to change it. Ironically, this is also the most potent beginning of change. When you face exactly what is happening without denial, distortion, or dismissal, the energies of vision and transformation naturally have room to grow on their own. The ultimate “claim” means embracing your own learning and transformation through core trust in yourself, the spirit of humanity, and life itself.

Case Study: By many measures Paula was an amazing success in her career. At a young age she had been promoted into a high-level director's job at a world-famous research organization where she quickly developed a national reputation. However, behind the scenes Paula felt driven and pushed, less ambitious than others -- including her very influential mentor at the research organization -- seemed to want to make her. Unless she had a heart-to-heart talk with the mentor she would continue to have expectations placed on her that undermined both the nature of the contributions she wanted to make (rather than those she'd been directed to make), and her own happiness. When she thought about it, this same pattern of fulfilling expectations of others had been a subtle force all her life, from her parents, teachers, now even her husband -- all those who in some way could be "disappointed" in her. In order to turn the situation around, Paula began to think about how she would need to begin to assert her own desires and needs, setting reasonable boundaries for others' expectations and creating her own internal "ring of fire" to protect herself from living others' dreams for her more than she was living her own. She called this project, "living my inner strength," and began by reaching out to her mentor to talk about her work and what she really wanted to do with her life and career. While this was not an easy conversation at the outset, she soon saw that she could be more forthright about her own wishes and couldn't be so easily "washed away by the wishes of others."

Links to the other principles:

2. Step away from personal gains and losses

3. Focus on both the good and the true

4. Connect through appreciation and ownership

5. Engage to stay engaged