Power to Empower

Someone using a map to navigate.

When I was 5 years old, I learned how to read a map in the backseat of a car just like this. My mom’s beloved yellow Cougar. We had just moved from Charlotte, NC, to St. Petersburg, FL, and she was navigating herself and two kids through unfamiliar streets trying to set up our new life.  

I'll never forget. She handed me a phone book and an unfolded map bigger than my arm span. She pointed to a spot and said, “We’re here.” Then, she showed me the address in the phone book and said, “We’re trying to get here.” I had to figure it out. It was fun ... like a treasure hunt. First I found the address of our destination on the map. Then I got to choose each turn she would make, and called out to her which way to go on which street, even giving her warning of how many streets we had to pass before our next turn. Come to think of it, what a brave lady she was for driving blind on the guidance of a kindergartner in the back seat! 

We went on to move four more times before I was a teenager, and the drill repeated in each new city. Of course, I didn’t realize at the time; but that was a life lesson that has left an impression to this day. I’m still not terribly spatial, but I can read a map like nobody’s business.    

As I’ve coached my business associates over the past several years, I’m often reminded of the way I learned, and try to incorporate the same empowering skills to my teammates. They’ll often hear me say, “Check where you are. Here’s where you ‘should’ end up. How are you going to get there?” And then we try to make it as fun as possible along the way. 

Some people try to coach how to get from point A to point B the exact way they’ve done it, or even if they haven’t done it at all. I’ve always thought having your own map is way more powerful than following someone else’s instructions. That’s what I love about our business! We have a map (in the form of a comp plan from the company), and we have guardrails (team culture and P&P). Each business owner chooses their own destination (goal), and then we work together to figure out the best route for each partner.   

It stirs my creative passion. It satisfies my longing to nurture. And it elates me when others figure it out for themselves. I learned from an early age the satisfaction of intrinsic reward, and there's nothing that makes me happier than to see others feel that self-sustained empowerment.