Superpowers for Good
Superpowers for Good: Leadership Lessons From—And For—the World's Great Changemakers
Author Shares How to Move From Thermometer to Thermostat to Gain Control of Our Lives - s11 ep11
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Author Shares How to Move From Thermometer to Thermostat to Gain Control of Our Lives - s11 ep11

Author of In Your Power, Dr. Sharon Melnick, Explains How to Find Personal Strength to Make Your World Better
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Devin: What is your superpower?

Sharon: I would say all these successes that you just talked about, I think they come from a core superpower, which is deep empathy.


Author Sharon Melnick, a PhD psychologist, joined me for a conversation about her book, In Your Power: React Less, Regain Control, Raise Others. 

She explains the book and its purpose:

You might find yourself blaming or resentful or spinning and stuck–whether to stay or to go–and it just doesn't feel like the world, in your personal world around you, is going in the direction that you think it should. You're in a mental swirl. You get emotionally hijacked. You might be starting to show up even as a diminished version of yourself.

The way when you're out of your power like this, the way that you try to make situations better usually makes them worse. It perpetuates them. So this book is about how to be in your power because the moment you step into your power, you shift the power dynamic. In any situation, you are able to get the outcomes that you want. But not only that but to make it better for everyone around you.

Sharon shared a helpful analogy. “Many of us go throughout our day as a thermometer, “ she says. “Other people act, and we just react.” As a thermometer, we have no power to change our circumstances.

“Instead, you want to shift to be the thermostat,” she says. “When you're the thermostat, you set the temperature, you set the tone, you bring forth your message and help people to see it the way that you see it, or you think would be more helpful for them to see it. When you're the thermostat, you have sovereignty.”


AI Episode Summary

  • Dr. Sharon Melnick is an executive coach and author of the book In Your Power.

  • Her book is for anyone who feels that they are not seen, heard, or able to make an impact in their personal or professional life.

  • The book focuses on helping individuals be in their power, which means being able to stay grounded and in control in any situation.

  • Being in your power helps shift the dynamic of a situation and allows for better outcomes for everyone involved.

  • Sharon acknowledges that women face extra pressure in society but notes that men are also affected by the patriarchal system.

  • One of the ways women can lean into their power is by understanding what aspects of a situation they can control and focusing on those.

  • Other ways to be in your power include changing your perspective, responding instead of reacting, clearing emotions, knowing your triggers, setting boundaries, and engaging in joint problem-solving.

  • Sharon shares a real-life example of working with an executive who had received a complaint. By approaching the situation with empathy, rapport was built, and behavior change was achieved.

  • Sharon's superpower is deep empathy, making others feel seen and understood.

  • Tips for developing empathy include recognizing triggers, understanding that emotions can cloud objective thinking, and finding strategies to get back to a place of calm and clarity.

Refer a friend


How to Develop Deep Empathy As a Superpower

As a psychologist, Sharon has insights into empathy that many of us lack. She shared an example of a recent client interaction that demonstrates how empathy can impact our work.

In the last few weeks, I was called in to work with a woman executive; somebody filed a complaint against her for behavior that was inappropriate–kind of yelling and really saying some things that were inappropriate in the situation. 

In our very first meeting, she made it all about her and how the other people had wronged her. I just came in with deep empathy, and I really understood it from her point of view. We've been working together a few weeks, and already she's established a lot of trust with me. She's already listening, being much more aware, much more intentional, really, like already having examples of where she didn't say something that she, you know, immediately, like impulsively thought of saying. And she's already started to change the culture on her team to be more respectful. 

If I had come in there and I'd just been like, “The complaint says this, and this is how you need to change your behavior, and this is what the company needs to see from you, and if you don't, here are the consequences,” we never would have been able to have the rapport that we had. That's enabled me to kind of get in there and create rapid behavior change, which is really in the service of the greater good for all.

Sharon offers some tips for raising your consciousness to allow for developing deep empathy. 

She explains that an “emotional reaction” is really a “re-activation.” Something longstanding inside us is triggering a response to a casual insult, like an interruption. By being more aware of what is going on inside our own heads, we can develop the power to see others more fully and allow space for more healthy interaction.

Second, she notes that our evolutionary programming processes input in terms of the self, “How does this impact me?” By recognizing this feature in our brains, we can move away from the tendency to respond emotionally and toward greater objectivity in analyzing a situation.

That new perspective helps create space for better-understanding others and developing deep empathy.

Following Sharon’s example and advice can enable you to grow your capacity for empathy. With practice, you could add that strength to your portfolio of superpowers that enable you to do good in the world.

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Guest-Provided Profile

Sharon Melnick, PhD (she/her):

CEO, Horizon Point Inc

About Horizon Point Inc: Horizon Point Inc is an international coaching and training firm dedicated to creating fast and lasting behavioral change in accomplished but overwhelmed professionals, enabling them to expand their leadership impact and become change agents across the enterprise. With Dr. Melnick's psychological tools, clients harness their emotional makeup to create an inspiring culture under stressful conditions and use their influencing capacities to achieve outsized results.  

Website: sharonmelnick.com    

Other URL: inyourpowerbook.com

Biographical Information: Sharon Melnick, PhD, is the premier expert on being in your power as a leader, and a global advocate for women's leadership, resilience, and power. She’s been selected as a Marshall Goldsmith Top 100 Coach and named a top leadership voice by LeadersHum.

Her methods are informed by ten years of research at Harvard Medical School and field-tested by 40,000 coaching/training participants around the world.  As a speaker, she has created buzz at conferences worldwide (and also at the White House, West Point, and the United Nations). 

She is the best-selling author of a new book, In Your Power: React Less, Regain Control, Raise Others, and her prior one titled Success under Stress.

She's a sought-after Executive Coach for women executives and the Founder of the Next Level Leader program, which has a 92% success rate at advancing women into next-level opportunities within weeks.

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/sharonmelnick/

Instagram Handle: @drsharonmelnick

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