The day my life changed was the day I asked myself something I now call “The Power Question.”
It was the late 1990s, I was about to graduate from college and I had fallen in love with the most unexpected thing – democracy.
During my senior year I was asked to be the director of our student affairs conference at my college and the student team for the conference, independent of me, thought that the topic should be on democracy.
I thought it was the worst idea in the world.
But as they explained to me that democracy wasn’t just old white guys practicing politics in Washington, DC (no offense!) but rather a way of organizing people to unleash their full potential, I was hooked. This thing I’d taken for granted – democracy – resonated with my core passion in life.
We had the conference on democracy (it was a huge success) and I graduated and got a job at a division of a Fortune 500 company.
Let’s just say the workplace there was far from democratic.
After four agonizing months working at the company, I asked myself the question a mentor had once asked me, something I now call “The Power Question” – and my answer changed my life.
But first, let me share with you the question itself.
The Power Question
Fear – disguised as stress, fiefdoms, addiction, procrastination, silence and more – takes us out of our power. Some people think fear can be a great motivator or help us make better decisions, but I don’t agree. Common sense, experience and wisdom help us do that. Plus, research shows that when we’re in a state of fear the peripheries of our brains shut down and we become myopic. “The Power Question” helps us regain a sense of freedom-centered power in our lives that fear threatens to take away.
What was my answer to “The Power Question” that day? To resign from my job and go live my purpose (which was about helping people choose to live motivated by freedom, not fear) by starting an organization dedicated to freedom and democracy in the workplace.
I resigned from my job Jerry McGuire-style and started a company called, WorldBlu (“blu” because it’s the universal color of freedom). And now, 18 years later my, incredible team and I have built a company which develops freedom-centered organizations and freedom-centered leaders in tangible and practical ways by teaching organizations something we call the Freedom at Work™ model. We now have individual and organizational clients in 80 countries worldwide and represent over $30 billion in annual revenue. We get to work with inspiring clients such as Zappos, Hulu, WD-40, Menlo Innovations, DaVita, Delivering Happiness and more all over the world.
I’ve also had the opportunity to teach “The Power Question” globally and have witnessed many life-changing results for people both personally and professionally.
Throughout the years, I’ve continued to ask myself “The Power Question” to address with fears that come up on my entrepreneurial path.
Let It Change Your Life
A life-changing moment came for me in early 2012 when “The Power Question” just may have saved my life.
My team and I had recently developed our goals and benchmarks for the year and I was working on my first book.
However, by mid-February, things weren’t going smoothly. We weren’t hitting our goals, clients weren’t returning calls, cash flow wasn’t flowing and my book was turning out to be a lot harder to write than I had anticipated.
That particular morning a good friend called to ask if she could drop something by my home. I said “Sure!” but inside I was thinking, “Make it snappy, I have deadlines to meet!”
When she arrived we stood in the doorway, talking. Suddenly, I had a sharp pain in my chest, lost my breath, and my eyes filled with tears. My friend ushered me over to the couch to sit down. I reached out to the universe with my whole heart, asking what needed to shift in my thinking. Very clearly and calmly an answer came to me. “Traci, you’re totally motivated by fear. Stop it.”
In an instant I saw how all our deadlines were driven by what I now call well-intentioned fear (when you have the best of intentions but it’s really fear motivating you). I asked myself “The Power Question” – what would I do if I weren’t afraid?” in this scenario and in an instant I realized I’d let go of the forced deadlines (some we couldn’t change but most we could!) and trust the dedicated people on our team and the flow to get things done.
Think Freedom and Find Your Answers
The minute I found my freedom-centered answer the chest pain disappeared. The next day I shared my breakthrough with the team they agreed with the solution. We had a collective “aha!” and the fear lifted off for all of us as we let go of forcing things – a habit of fear. Everything started flowing again and since that moment the business has continued to expand and grow. I’ve had a deep sense of peace that has never left me.
While I can’t say I’ve totally conquered fear once and for all, I now have a question to ask to help awaken myself and others out of fear.
Along the way I’ve learned that when we live and act from freedom rather than fear we transform our lives and the world around us. We find an inner sense of peace and a lasting sense of joy and happiness. We can more fully live our core values. In short, we find true freedom.
So now I want to ask you — How would your life change if you asked yourself “The Power Question” and answered it honestly? And how does your answer relate to your values, passion and purpose?
To see this article as it appears on the Delivering Happiness website, please click here.