How Powerful are You?

Not long ago, BusinessWeek ran a cover story on Women and Power. They featured a series of women that ran the gamut of economic status and job titles. It immediately reminded me of an important lesson I learned from successful women:

Money does not give us power

Power comes from the choices we make. That’s a very important distinction. Not all high earners are powerful women.

In my research, successful women fell into two groups. The Successful High Earners and the Hard-driven High Earners.

The Hard-driven ones are  superwomen on steroids, classic workaholics.  They are NOT powerful women. In fact, they have more in common with underearners than their higher paid peers. They live in deprivation…not necessarily money, but time, joy, freedom, and control of their life. They feel trapped, often by the money itself.

You know what makes Successful High Earners so powerful? Conscious choices based on self awareness. Most of these women actually take time to for self reflection, to figure out what was really important to them.  Their decisions are based, not on fear, but on their priorities, their most cherished values.

One of the most poignant examples was a woman who went to a workshop where she was asked this question: If you were on your deathbed, looking back at your life, what would make you feel happiest and satisfied with how you lived?  From that came a list of her top 5 priorities. Soon after, she was asked to be on the board of a business start-up in China. The meetings would be all expense paid weekends in SF. There was a time she would’ve jumped at the chance, but, she realized, Chinese business wasn’t one of her priorities.

“It would’ve been fun,” she told me. “I would’ve met interesting people, but it would’ve taken me away from my partner, the book I was writing, all those things that are really important.”

Spoken by a truly powerful woman. How about you? If you were on your deathbed, looking back at your life, what would make you feel happiest and satisfied with how you lived? When was the last time you identified your top priorities, your deepest values? More importantly, are you living them now?

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Comments & Feedback

  • Hi Barbara! Thank you for this great post. Once you get going on a project or business, it can be really hard to make time for reflection — but you’re right, that reflection and intention is the big difference. This idea reminds me of one of my favorite books, “The Joy of Success” by Susan Ford Collins. I think you’d enjoy her work! She talks about three gears of activity (in business, in family life, in everything), and her third gear is exactly what you’re talking about here — stepping back, looking at the broad horizon, daring to be wildly creative.

    Also, I really love the example you gave. I want to try that exercise now!

  • perspective is 99% of reality …

    it seems very few take the time for “reflection”
    for it takes time and a time of pure solitude …

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Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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