As Abraham Maslow taught: “Every person is, in part, his own project and makes himself.” When individuals believe they have a gift that can be developed and are free to determine and control their own lives, they are empowered to contribute, make a difference and realize their potential. Empowerment is facilitated by a contribution mindset and a supportive, inclusive environment. It is hindered by barriers – both internal and external to the individual.
Internal barriers include doubts and limiting beliefs. If someone feels incapable of contributing or afraid of making mistakes, they will fail to become all that they can be. Internal barriers can cause someone to give up before they start. While few begin with everything in their favor, everyone has a gift that, if cultivated, can improve their circumstances. Individuals who believe in themselves – who realize they have something to offer – have discovered their gift and are more motivated to develop valued skills and contribute. They are more likely to develop an accurate sense of self-worth, realize what they are capable of becoming (self-actualize) and live a life of meaning.
External barriers exist when the key institutions of society – education, business, communities, government – hinder or impede an individual’s journey of realizing their potential. Removing all such barriers is essential. People become empowered when they are enabled to discover, develop and apply their gifts; communities provide the support they need; businesses empower employees to succeed by contributing to the betterment of others; and governments protect the rights of every individual and ensure equal treatment.
Koch’s success depends on empowered employees who apply principles of human progress. Effective supervisors empower employees to be the best they can be, providing the conditions necessary for contributions (Requirements for Human Action). They help them understand and internalize Koch’s (and their group’s) Vision, ensure they have roles that fit their gifts and provide the necessary resources and opportunities to learn and try new things. Empowered individuals are capable of extraordinary things.