Giving Power to Gain Freedom

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How do you build and scale a venture or a movement to touch as many lives as possible without blowing apart your own life along the way?

This is a question I’ve been working on for years. Exploring models, strategies, ideas and tactics. Through it all, one overriding ideal keeps bubbling up to the top. It’s, at once, ridiculously obvious, but at the same time extraordinarily difficult to execute on.

Because it means removing ego from the picture. Inserting faith. And focusing on service, empowerment and exalting relationships.

The fastest way to expand your own power, freedom and impact is to relinquish control, to trust and empower others.

Simple to say. Obvious in every way. Yet brutally hard to execute, especially when the baby you’re birthing is a manifestation of who you are.

So, my question is…

Who can you trust and empower today to help you turn your dream into a collective movement?

One that accomplishes your end game, allows others to share in the ownership and the outcome and affords you the space to be with the people and do the things that make you come alive?


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33 responses

33 responses to “Giving Power to Gain Freedom”

  1. Leo Dimilo says:

    Wowzers Jonathon,

    What a loaded question. Do movements start because of someone pushing them or do they start because you somehow affect enough people who support your world views on things?

    Or is it a combination of both?

  2. Michael says:

    Ah yes. I resemble that question.

  3. OMGoodness, your post and your words couldn’t come at a better time. I’ve been wrestling with this very thought and have been questioning the very tools I’ve been using over the past 5 years to create a movement.

    I’ve decided to move away from an ego-based marketing strategy to an engagement-based model. I started the process a year ago, but I’m now giving myself permission to let go of the tools that are no longer serving my values.

    One of my values is connecting and I’ve decided which tools will allow me to connect in much richer way with my clients AND allow my clients to connect in a much richer way with each other. This is truly freeing and your post is just another indication that I’m moving in the right direction.

  4. Lori says:

    Everyday I ask that question. Now, I just have to get out of my own way and allow the answer. Love your posts. Thank you!

  5. SOOO true, Jonathan! It is probably one of the most difficult things to do.
    We sometimes think that we have to get through challenges alone. Sometimes what ends up happening is that we become centered on ourselves, competing with one another. But, it is never rewarding to compete alone. We end up wanting more with no one to share it with!

  6. Amber J. says:

    This is a question that is very applicable to my life right now. I know exactly what I want to do, and how I want to do it, but I am afraid of losing myself in the process. I’m also afraid that I will lose so much along the way, that I will never make it where I want to go.

    At some point we do have to let go in order to gain.

    Scary, but needed.

  7. Kirsten says:

    In my profession (dog training) we all make each other wrong about everything – methodology, who we like, who we dislike, what tools we use, what philosophy (or biologists, Veterinarians, Ehthologists, etc.) we follow. I have been pondering your question for years. The answer was obvious when it hit me. Stop making my colleagues wrong. It’s not as easy said as done, but it has opened up my world to empower myself and everyone around me (including colleagues) and my business has expanded since I made that one simple choice.

  8. Midwesterner says:

    And for most new managers (which is what you are as soon as you’re handing off to another), a huge challenge is the ability to “give” power to others along with some degree of freedom for THEM to add creativity and to experience their own growth. So often delegation becomes micro-management; you ask another to achieve the outcome using precisely the same steps you’ve used. I was fortunate in my first leadership role to have a smart & capable team who quickly coached me out of that style of delegation: “Just tell us WHAT you want done, and let us figure out HOW to do it”.

  9. Holy moly,dear Jonathan! Yours is EXACTLY the question I’m grappling with big-time *this* day and for countless days before. How to touch many lives while staying in profound integrity with my own. Faith (which I call trust), service and, yes, especially relationships — not least the relationship with our precious self — these are indeed the way. Ego despises this approach, of course. But so what? We cannot give what we do not have.If it’s love we want to give, the heart must reign supreme.

  10. BZTAT says:

    For me, the question is, how do you find people who you can trust and empower today to help you turn your dream into a collective movement?

    I have done this in the past, and been let down. In order to empower others, you have to embrace their dreams as well. You have to serve their interests, which may or may not distract you from your focus. Trust can be an issue when it has been betrayed, and their is always that risk. I believe in the best in people, but I also know it can be naive to trust blindly.

  11. What an amazing question! Thanks for this! Yes, what’s coming to mind is that what if “my dream” is part of a bigger vision that many people share? If I assume that I’m here to do it on my own I’ll sit at home wondering, instead of participating in each day and connecting with people, with a sense of curiousity for what’s possible and what I can contribute. Still, when I hear that question, “Who can you trust…” I’m reminded of my years of being super self-reliant, trusting myself and not many others. I can recall living with the point of view that people don’t “get me”, are “too stuck in their own ways”, and “have nothing to offer or contribute to me”. It wasn’t a very fun reality to say the least! It took a pretty big crash for me to finally see that someone is always here for me, people can contribute amazing things to me and my life and we are an amazing gift to the world when we show up together. So, thanks again for the reminder of the shift that occured in me that I can have another moment of celebration and gratitude for. How does it get even better? What else is possible?

  12. My WIP deals with exactly this challenge, as each character is dealing with power issues, whether it is being vulnerable enough to trust, being strong enough to believe in a dream to pursue, or to be willing to let go of control because of fear of abandonment.

    Although the novel is fantasy, the whole idea of magic is to have control of reality, which ironically, we do.

    Allowing others to have their own reality, and being willing to work along side them to help them get what they want seems so counter-intuitive. Trying to control them just takes energy away from ourselves.

  13. I think sometimes you just have to let the *fear* of relinquishing control go, and know that the universe has your back. And yes, it’s incredibly difficult to do!

    I just watched an interview this morning with Gabby Bernstein discussing this idea of letting go and trusting –yourself, the universe, other people — and if you can manage it, if you can do that without resisting all the “stuff” that’s likely to come up, I think you can expand your own power and freedom, while at the same time lifting up and supporting others.

  14. Hi Jonathan,

    If you have a unique voice and truly empower others by delivering on your promise like nobody else, I would say it’s a reasonable assumption that people will spread the word.

    You might just create a movement that is so amazing people will support it because of its positive impact on them. But allowing others to share in the ownership and outcome is where it could get tricky, right?

    I think you’re writing about more than sharing or a collective movement of course. It’s about relinquishing control and empowering others at the same time.

    So, man, what a set of questions!

    It’s funny you are asking this, because if someone posed a question like this to me, my first thought would be. “Gee, I wonder what Jonathan Fields would have to say about this?” 😉

    I think you must foster an environment where creativity is highly valued, and feedback is encouraged, always. We are all innately creative after all. And you as the “owner” need to embrace uncertainty, discomfort, let go of the control and be prepared for a few bumps along the way. Your own little business/movement incubator … Much easier said than done.

    • Craig! Fancy meeting you here 😉

      If I had to summarize what Jonathan and you both said, it’d be this: care of Stephen Covey.

      Interestingly, I’ve uh… deeply and passionately trusted what most people would consider… “all the wrong people” my whole life. I’m talking heavily burned and betrayed 12 times, but to me they all made me stronger, I’m happy I trusted, and I have a deeper faith in humanity than ever… because what it’s shown me is that, no matter how many “bad apples” we trust, the movement grows and lives on.

      What I’m saying is… in my life, I’ve learned that trust never goes bad 🙂

  15. Such a great question, and so timely, too. I actually have my eye on several amazing people I want to spotlight and empower in order to turn my dream into a collective movement.

    It’s my vision, but it sure ain’t about me. The tricky part, I suspect, will be in solidly holding onto my vision, while at the same time empowering others to help bring it to life.

    Should be an exciting journey!

  16. meg says:

    The larger question is: what is my dream? Right now it is to have an income, sell the house and get out of the nightmare that is my life. ie: bad health, no insurance, expensive prescriptions, back pay owed to me, husband in jail, taxes on house due, no cash to pay for house, etc, etc,etc. Am I my own fairy godmother? I see no one else in line for the job.

  17. meg says:

    I kind of object to that unattractive picture of me above. I did not see a way to add one.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      meg – sign up for a account and you’ll be able to choose a specific photo. Most blogs use that service these days. Hope that helps

  18. Wow, wonderful point–removing ego allows new paradigms the freedom to fly. There’s an expression that says something along the lines of: good leaders inspire people to do things in such a way that the people think they thought of it themselves, and leaders may therefore not always get credit (though some do like Martin Luther King Jr), but their dreams are realised.

  19. Marie Davis says:

    Wow! Jonathan, as usual I love your bits of delight. For our first app build, we hired three folks to come in and help us with marketing. It has made for a crowded office, but we’ve made a point to actually cook lunch for everyone three days a week. Eating together — a good meal has been a bonding experience — not only for friendships, but has helped to build a commitment for our project. We just heard that we won a gold medal for our app, and it is so wonderful to share that ownership with our three office mates.

  20. Al Smith says:

    Excellent post and questions Jonathan. I started The CARE Movement last August and have been making a steady climb, gaining support and followers along the way. I have had lots of help and am so grateful. More work and serious consideration of this post. Thanks.


  21. Thanks Jonathan. Love this question. “Who can you trust and empower today to help you turn your dream into a collective movement?” I invited a few of those in today toward the cause.

  22. Hi Jonathan,

    this is the greatest question for so many people, including me, that I know. How to maintain absolute integrity, and get your gifts out in the world in a way that serves people. I have struggled with this for years. To avoid the spin and seduction of the many models out there, to build quality product consistently, and a tribe.

    To specifically answer your question..who can I trust. Well, me first. Big one that. Really trust the fullness of my own voice.

    Then…I have to trust something greater than me. Or to paraphrase my teacher Bucky Fuller, that if I am doing the highest good for the highest number of people without competition, then Universe will provide for me. (maybe not in the way I would like…but in the way I need.)

    I am still in kindergarten on this one.

    Thanks for your great work,


  23. Exactly!
    We need to move from “take control, attract followers” to “give control, create leaders.”
    Why is it so hard?
    Because we are biologically wire to live in the take control camp. Studies show that hierarchies are good….for the person on top. For everyone else, not so much. This is the essential struggle all leaders go through. The ones that achieve greatness do so when they beat back that demon.

  24. Tom Bentley says:

    Jonathan, I decided that I will trust and empower you to turn my dream into a collective movement. (Note: this doesn’t mean that you have to any housework at my place, if you were worried.) Thanking you in advance …

    But dangit, that is a tough question. I just wrote a post on my own grapples with faith in myself, which is dicey enough. In some ways it might be easier to have faith in others (though the ambiguity in that frees it from the specifics of an “other” that has an actual face in my mind at the moment).

    Anyway, thanks for being the provocateur that you are.

  25. Love the question, Jonathan, and when you’re truly committed to empowering people and your movement, it’s one you’ve got to be able to answer.

    I’m rocking the entrepreneur as host model…I may choose the theme and tone of the party, but it’s not really a party unless other people can come and share openly.

    (Theoretically, I already know that my guests are attracted to the theme and love the tone….otherwise, we’d all want to head in different directions!)

  26. I’ve struggled with this issue for 5 years and decided to create a blog and program that helps me live the life I want to live. Since the first of the year I’ve had so many wonderful experiences and lots of synchronicity. So I guess the answer is doing what you love and allowing the people to come in their divine right time. Thanks for such a great post.

  27. Who can you trust? That is the all important question. For most of us, I think it’s only natural to grow cynical over time. That is not to say that I don’t trust people. I do, and I know that there are a lot of good, super helpful people. I have had the privilege of knowing many of them, and still do. But I guess, over time, after a lot of broken trust, I’ve become more cautious in who I do trust.

    So now, I am cautious, but I also follow my instinct. I see who I connect with, and feel at ease and comfortable with, and then trust is an eventual step.

  28. Gemma says:

    Fab article, Jonathan – you really are attuned to the universe, I do believe – you seem to have summed up where many of your readers are at.

    For me, I tend to trust those towards whom my body leans. I get a warm, clean and wholesome feeling when I think of them. Anyone who generates any sort of ickiness in me I treat with much more caution.

    I think our mind is an overused tool in decision-making; the body is, to me, the source of all great decisions.

    I’m curious – what is your answer to your own question?

  29. Kate says:

    Learning to balance life and work is tough. I think the best alternative is find something you love to do and make it your life. Still a balancing act though! Great discussion!

  30. Andi-Roo says:

    “Who can you trust and empower today to help you turn your dream into a collective movement?”

    Such a deep question. There aren’t very many people to whom I would grant the freedom to move my world. Then again, there aren’t many people who would WANT to do this for me, haha! I have found more trustworthy souls since diving into the blogging & twittering worlds, interestingly enough — more people online than in real life, which I find both sad & at the same time exciting. Reminds me daily that it really is a small world.

    The answer, I suppose, is to slowly grow your personal tribe. My husband & my sister (my two very best friends on the planet) have always been all the tribe-mates I’ve ever needed. But that does not encourage growth. So now I’m expanding, moving outward into the world, & your question is just one of many I face daily. I hope I’m making wise choices in whom I choose to leave my trust. Thus far, I don’t seem to have been mistaken, which leads me to believe the ultimate conclusion is to have faith in humanity & follow your instincts.