“In Business and Life, Context is Crucial”
A strategic consultant, trusted confidant, and honest advisor, Erin Joy is an experienced navigator for business owners seeking clear direction. She founded the consulting and executive coaching company, Black Dress Partners, in 2011 to help guide businesses facing a variety of challenges. Constantly striving to provide value, Erin and her team conceived Black Dress Circle®–facilitated, member-driven roundtables exclusively for female business owners–and, in 2015, the Midwest Women Business Owners’ Conference. Currently, Erin is pursuing her Ph.D. in business psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. We asked Erin a series of questions to learn more about those experiencing success.
Q: Most “successful” people are empowered people. How do you define empowerment?
EJ: Empowerment is defined as the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life. Empowerment is derived from a specific context you give to situations and to life. Empowered people have very specific conversations with themselves; they frame things positively, take responsibility for (and believe they are responsible for) their actions, and have conversations with their network about what they want versus what they don’t want or why they can’t.
Q: What characteristics or habits do you think empowered people share?
EJ: I’ve worked with more than 1000 clients—male and female—and those who achieve success both professionally and personally are those who are genuinely hungry for a specific outcome. They want to pull their resources and network, they want to galvanize their tribes around their purpose, and they want to (and do) produce results.
Q: Do you think creating a positive context is an innate or learned skill?
EJ: Either/or. People can be born positive thinkers; in fact, I think most of us are. Some of us maintain that context throughout life and others get sidetracked. Context creation can absolutely be learned, though. Like any change we make in life, it requires work and constant repetition before it becomes habitual. In business and life, context is crucial.
Q: How can you train yourself to create an empowered context?
EJ: Think about something you hear people say everyday: “I need to make more money.” That context comes from a place of desperation, which breeds negative emotions. Think about how you might reframe that statement that fills you with energy instead of depleting you. It may be something like “I want to impact more people”—see how those two statements feel very different in your body? Notice the actions you are inspired to take when you ask yourself that question?
Q: Is there a tool that people can use to help with reframing?
EJ: I call this simple one the “turn it around exercise.” Take a piece of paper and fold it in half. On the left side, make a list of things you don’t want (i.e., “I don’t want a low balance in my checking account.”; “I don’t want pain in my body.”). On the right side, simply write the opposite of that in a positive way (i.e., “I want more money in my bank account.”, “I want a pain-free body.”). Then, take the left side and throw it away. Take the right side and bring it to coffee or lunch with a trusted friend, advisor, or coach to discuss plans of actions for making those statements realities. Engage in this exercise once a month to keep yourself on track.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
EJ: Americans define success pretty linearly—through material things and the number of zeroes in their bank accounts. Success is how you define it; empowerment is about fueling success as you’ve defined it for yourself.