During a meeting I had with a student today, I set out a bowl of stress balls on the table in front of us. The student — we’ll call him Eric — was in trouble for how he behaved during an interaction with a fellow student.

Eric called him a name. He grabbed him by his throat. He tried to whip him with his jeans. When Eric was talking to me about the incident, first he said that he “didn’t know what he was doing.” I tossed a stress ball.

He went on to say he “didn’t grab him hard.” I threw another stress ball.
Then Eric said he “didn’t try to hurt him.” I threw another stress ball.
“He made me mad.” Tossed another one.

“Do you know what these are, or why I’m throwing them,” I asked? He shook his head no. Well, “each one of these is your power. Each time you said something that sounded powerless, what did I do?”

“You tossed one,” Eric noted.

“Exactly. The way you were you were explaining what happened earlier was like you were just a feather in the wind. Is that what you are–just a feather in the wind?”

Then, I threw The Crucible Project book at him and told him our definition of power — influence and effectiveness. I’ll spare you the entire scene, but Eric ended up taking the turn and getting to a place of understanding that he is not just a feather in the wind. He learned that he has power.

When is the last time you reviewed the definitions?

  • Accountability: Taking responsibility for my choices and their consequences — intended and unintended. Accountability.
  • Integrity: When my actions and words are consistent. I walk my talk. Integrity.
  • Shadow: The part of me I hide, repress and deny. The part of me that projects my faults on others and keeps me from my real power. Shadow.
  • Power: Influence and effectiveness; the ability to create new choices for myself by speaking the truth, taking responsibility, and living in integrity. Power.

More importantly, what do we do with them?

  • Use this as a nightly reflection: 
    • Where have I been successful? 
    • Where can I grow?
  • How have I been accountable?
    • Am I owning my choices?
    • Am I mindful of the intended and unintended consequences?
  • Consider the last blow up with a family member or a colleague:
    • Was my shadow unconsciously online?
    • Did I project my own shadow on the person with whom I spoke?
  • Am I stressed about something?
    • Consider how integrity might be playing a role
    • Is my walk and my talk aligned?
  • How am I doing on the power front?
    • Am I giving my power away?
    • Is my influence effective?

When we give ourselves the time to reflect on these questions, we get to make new choices to love ourselves and others more effectively.

We make fewer mistakes. We get to places of healing more quickly. Take a moment today to put these key definitions to work in your life. I think you’ll be glad you did.

By Tony Bradburn

Tony completed his initial weekend in June of 2008 and is a graduate of our two-year transformational program. Tony hails from the idyllic shades found in Crystal Lake, IL. After being adopted from the Dominican Republic at the age of 6 months into a family in Elgin with two biological children, going through school, getting sober, becoming a teacher and a football coach, getting married, going to more schooling to get a few Master’s degrees, having four beautiful children, moving into educational administration, getting divorced, and now having principalship duties, it’s safe to say that Tony’s path has never been a straight one.

Photo Credit: Wicker Paradise via Creative Commons