A tool to focus on what you can control

The ‘Regain Your Power Canvas’ is an effective way to increase your autonomy. Rather than focusing on what you can control, you flip the situation and reclaim your power.

In most organizations, people get stuck because of lack of authority or resources. They limit their possibilities by waiting for others to act or give them permission.

The purpose of this exercise is to realize that we all have more power than we think. Instead of focusing on the 85% that we can’t control, let’s unleash the 15% that makes us powerful.

What

There is no reason to wait for others to give us more power or space to do things. Instead of feeling powerless or limited by the resources or authority we don’t have, let’s unleash our own power.

This simple canvas flips the conversation from the 85% of things that makes us powerless to the 15% that’s under our control–what makes us powerful.

Judo (Japanese for “the gentle way”) requires using your opponents’ weight and strength as weapons against them while preserving your own mental and physical energy.

The ‘Regain Your Power Canvas’ leverages the principles of Judo. You flip the situation around and recover your power.

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Regain Your Power Canvas

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    How to Reclaim Your Power

    Start by working on the “85% that makes you feel powerless.” Ask participants to use post-its to list everything that “makes you feel limited or powerless.” Write one idea per post-it.

    Once they finished the list, ask them to capture the ‘why’–both emotional or functional reasons.

    Now, tell participants to flip the canvas vertically—the 15% that makes you powerful is on the top.

    Ask people to list everything that’s under their control. Remind them to capture everything no matter how small–one post-it per idea.

    Then, move to identify the areas where they have “autonomy to act.” The purpose is to uncover or remind them that they have more freedom and power than they usually believe.

    Finally, ask participants to focus on identifying opportunities to do more with that power. “What can you achieve with the authority you already have?”

    Follow these steps to facilitate within a team or large group:

    First, participants complete the exercise alone (10 minutes).

    Second, individuals share theirs with a small group (3-4 people)–allow 3 min per person, one at a time. The team provides feedback to one another–allow 3-5 minutes per person.

    Lastly, facilitate a group discussion on what they’ve uncovered. Focus on identifying common themes and how it feels to reclaim their power by focusing on what they can control (their 15%).

    Facilitation Tips

    Judo is a metaphor for regaining power. When participants flip the canvas vertically, the powerless person is now in control.

    Leverage the powerful Judo metaphor when facilitating the exercise. Remind people to turn the power of our opponent on our favor.

    Help people move away from limiting mindsets, negativity, and powerlessness. Invite them to reflect on how we get stuck by focusing on what we don’t have/ can’t control rather than on what’s under our power.

    Remind people of the importance of building momentum: one small action can lead to another and another.

    Ask participants to reflect on how a team can bring together each individual’s 15% to create a larger impact.

    If people get stuck during the exercise, ask them to think of bottom-up solutions: one’s unused or ignored capacity can create big impact.


    This exercise was inspired by the 15% Solutions method by Liberating Structures. Credit: Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless. The canvas was designed by Moira Dillon.