The Power Within (#955)

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the chance to do a couple of impromptu coaching sessions with two people in my community who I’ve known for years but rarely talked to in a “professional” capacity. Both are high achievers with long-term successful businesses; both were facing personal crises. What struck me as interesting was that in both cases, what they were up against was a simple misunderstanding of where their past success had come from.

Alex (not her real name) had been a sickly child who found a strength inside her that enabled her to not only regain her health but to become a world champion athlete. Now in her early 50’s but with the motor of a hyperactive 12 year old, she was struggling to reach that same level of success in her business, despite an impressive product range and a host of high-level celebrity endorsements.

Jordan is a pillar in our local community – fun, funny, and a bundle of energy in his own right. His boyish charm, business savvy, and willingness to work his fingers to the bone have helped him forge two successful businesses in the time I’ve known him. Yet a glimpse behind the curtain revealed struggles with health, relationships, and even the business itself.

As I listened to each of them unfold their stories of what was happening in their lives and why they thought they were struggling, it became apparent that they were both trying to create and manage the next stage of their lives through “personal power” – the high adrenaline, high moxie approach to success that’s celebrated in motivational texts. While neither of them said “if it’s to be, it’s up to me”, that theme ran rampant underneath their individual stories of how much time and effort they were putting in for so little positive reward.

Yet the story of their early successes in life were stories of the invisible power behind life working through them. Intuition, insights, and “right place, right time” synchronicities abounded. Don’t get me wrong – they both brought a willingness to work hard when hard work was needed to the table. But as a mentor once told me, “no matter how hard the surfer is working, the ocean is doing the really heavy lifting.”

Here was the main thing I pointed out to them during our conversations:

There is a deeper power and wisdom inside of you that is “always on” but massively underutilized

Remember the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones fights his way through a host of knife and sword wielding enemies only to be confronted by the greatest swordsman of them all? (If not, you can watch it here.)

Our hero solves his biggest problem not by trying harder but by switching to a different, more effective weapon, one that has been available to him the whole time but didn’t occur to him to use in the heat of the battle. It was only when his own strength began to fail him that it occurred to him to turn to it.

In a similar way, those of us who have developed our personal power over the years tend to rely on it far more than we need to, only turning to the impersonal “power within” in moments of grace or surrender. Yet the universal energy and intelligence inside us is like an invisible source of electricity, ever present and just waiting to be tapped into.  We can use it to recharge our batteries, guide our actions, and power our lives.

It can neither be created nor destroyed; there is no charge for using it and it will never run out.

There are really only ever three reasons I come across as to why people (myself included) don’t make more use of the power within:

1. Lack of knowledge

The first is that they are genuinely unaware that it exists. Because this energy and intelligence beyond our personal ego is most often talked about in the realms of religion and new age mysticism, people who are not inclined in those directions often throw out the “baby” of inner power and innate health with the “bathwater” of ritual and belief systems.

2. Over-reliance on personal will

The “will to win” is something which has been celebrated in the worlds of business, sports, and war for as long as anyone has been thinking and writing about them. But it’s often overlooked that many of the most quoted speakers about the power of personal will from Hannibal (“We will either find a way or make one”) to Red Sanders (“Winning isn’t everything – it’s the only thing”) went on to lose things like the Punic wars, basketball games, and the companies and empires they once ruled over

There’s nothing wrong with ego, discipline, and personality; it’s just that putting them in charge of your success in life is like sending your clothes, watch, and car to ask someone out on a date. You might get the date, but there won’t be anyone there to enjoy it.

3. Lack of access

My son and I were talking about the power within on the way to the airport this morning and he asked me why I say things like “if you look for it, you’ll find it” when I also say “there’s nothing you have to do”.  After a few moments reflection, I pulled the car over and listened to the sound of the engine, the heater, and thoughts in my head until I heard an airplane passing by overhead.

“Can you hear the airplane?” I asked him.

When he said that he could, I pointed out that the reason he could hear it was because it was there and he was listening for it, not because of any particular skill or discipline he had developed over time. In the same way, when we get quiet enough inside, we begin to hear the voice of our inner wisdom and feel the power of life moving through us.

Over time, we develop a familiarity with that voice and an intimacy with the feeling that makes it easier to hear and feel. It is not that we have learned a new skill, but rather we have learned to recognize something that’s already always present.

And a simple truth about life is that when people operate from this deeper place inside themselves, they tend to do really well at whatever they find themselves doing, whether they “created it” as an act of directed attention or stumbled into it as part of the great unfolding of their lives.

What about you? How much of your success to this point in life have you been attributing to your effort and personality and how much of has actually been a function of the invisible power within? How might things be different if you began to rely on the intelligence and energy behind life more and your personal intellect and energy less?

Please share your reflections on the Inside-Out community Facebook group and if you’re joining us for Creating the Impossible beginning next week, we’ll carry on the conversation there!

With all my love,

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