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  • Cory McGowan

Becoming Present to Power

I had a really intriguing coaching conversation recently with a wonderful young man - let’s call him Luke.


Luke’s core topic that he brought to me was wanting to find his voice - his ability to speak up, to share what he wants, with authority, and in a way that would influence people.


It was clear both how much he wanted this and how hard it was for him through the pained expression on his face as we talked, and through the carefully studied and practiced gestures he was using with me. It was full of effort, but definitely did not come off as natural.


As a coach, the desire to want to have the right answer that leads to the brilliant insight and therefore ‘fix’ the issue is palpable. And for coaches that truly want to have lasting impact, when we notice that desire coming up, we know it is time to let go and get curious.


So I followed an intuition to ask him about power. What was his relationship to power and how might that be connected to his ability or inability to have a voice?


This inquiry didn’t land with him. He went right into how, in his mind, someone having power means they have it over someone who doesn’t, and that it creates unequal relationships.


This response felt quite familiar. It was typical of the scarcity mindset that dominates so much of our thinking in the developed (I use that term lightly) world now, although it is normally around resources and financial wealth. But it can certainly be true for power and whether we have enough or if others have it over us.


This is not to ignore the terrible imbalance of power and social injustice that is rampant in so many parts of the world today, especially in my country of origin, America. In fact, I would argue the very root of that is a scarcity mindset around power. But that’s a different blog post.

Photo: Joe Mather

Going back to the conversation with Luke, I decided to share a personal story around power. When I was working with my coach, Carolina, one of the most impactful things she said to me was that she felt she was witnessing a man becoming present to his power. At the time I found it astounding, as I was really on a back foot after failing at was what was supposed to be one of the peak roles in my career. I was unemployed, not providing for my family, and didn’t have a clear path ahead.


But she was right. I was making a shift, turning those circumstances into gifts, and becoming aware of what was possible because of what was happening for me instead of what was happening to me. The fact that she voiced the witnessing of my becoming present to my own power gave it energy and made it even more true. And her timing of offering that observation in our work together was such that I was ready to receive it, which also gave it more energy and truth. Masterful coaching.


What I want for Luke, and what I want for everyone living in these times of possibility and soul-defining transformation is for them to become present to their power. In my experience, becoming present to power doesn't mean others have less power, it means you are able to model a life that allows them to also become present their power.


There have been two core elements in this for me. The first is to look at my current circumstances from the perspective of what is happening for me and what I want to do with it. The second is to have allies in becoming present to my power - a coach, a friend, a mentor, a partner.


What came out of my conversation with Luke is that his own quest to become a coach was exactly the opportunity he needs to find his voice and his action to take was to find more people to have conversations with to practice that. And I’ll be his ally in that if he chooses it.


May the power be with you, Luke.

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