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In the famous animated movie about Pinocchio, the free-spirited puppet sings about not having strings to make him fret, frown, or move around. In this human experience, strings could be allegorical for many things. Pinocchio mentions being worry free. As part of his quest to become a real boy, he has to learn to make his own choices, but to use that freedom for good. As a mother, I have often expressed the wish to have puppet strings to control my children. If I could just make them do exactly as I wish, life would be so much easier! But as I contemplated that recently while worrying over some choices my children are making, I realized I wouldn’t exactly be the best puppet-master, because there are things in myself that I have yet to master. I realized that instead of wishing to have absolute power over these children of mine, I need to rule myself with greater success, and by so doing, I can have greater influence. This is the Model of Powerful Impact.

How can a person pour from an empty bucket? It cannot be done. This imagery is used to encourage women everywhere to justify self-focus and self-care–taking a long bath, eating favorite treats, girls’ nights out. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that kind of self-care, it is important to remember that there is a need for caring for ourselves in a way that is sometimes not easy and delightful. Sometimes we need to do the things that are hard but bring about growth. Sometimes, making, working toward, and achieving goals that help us to become better people means forgoing some of the pleasures in which the first kind of self-care would have us indulge.

When a woman prioritizes herself in a way that makes her a better person who is more in control of herself, she is becoming a more powerful woman. An increased power over self does not mean that she can control her circumstances or the people within her sphere, but she can influence them with greater power. Building her relationship with the Divine, finding peace within, will help her to share that light with those around her. When her family feels that serenity, they can go out into the world with greater peace and influence.

Such a woman working in her community, or in a broader setting, does not need to strike out with anger, resentment, or fear or try to tear people down. She can work to build a better future because of her inner strength, knowing that her value is not determined by stereotypes, the actions of others, or history. Collaboration, bridge building, and looking at the world from a place of tranquility can help her create generative solutions that will bring more change to the world than simply trying to control others ever would.

Written by Lisa Bjornberg