I have been called a bull in a china shop…on more than one occasion! A friend, hoping to help, handed me this book to read…about four years ago. To be honest, at that time I wasn’t ready to openly evaluate myself and how I used my physical presence to influence others. I was defensive and thought, “well, this is just who I am!”
Well, I finally got over myself and decided to read it. In her book Making Room For Leadership: Power, Space, and Influence, MaryKate Morse asserts that we all take up space in a room (not just physically) and the way we use or don’t use our bodies in group settings influences others. She shares that most of us are unaware of the ways we use our bodies to influence others. I would wholeheartedly agree with these ideas!
As I read this book, I reflected on my past. I worked with someone who would use his body and physical presence to dominate the room and to force everyone else into submission. He referred to this as “powering up”. It was incredibly intimidating and created a very tough working environment. It wasn’t until I was out of the situation that I realized how emotionally damaging the working relationship was to me.
I do not want to lead like that. MaryKate Morse talks about “shadows” and “sponges” in her book. I have come to the realization that on the scale of being a “shadow” with no presence or a “sponge” who soaks up all the physical space in a room, I am much more like a sponge. I am who God created me to be BUT I can learn to me more like Jesus who used his power and influence to empower the marginalized and to stand up to those who are abusing their personal power. I can learn to temper my big presence to help create safe environments that help others find their voice and to feel free to participate in this great endeavor of spreading the good news of the coming of God’s Kingdom.
This is a great book that would be very helpful for both “shadows” and “sponges”. If you are someone who people ignore and you don’t feel like you have a voice, grab this book and learn how to appropriately gain influence and to partner with what God is doing. If you are more like me, and tend to soak up all the space in a room, read this book and learn how to be more aware of your surroundings and how to help others feel safe and to share your influence and power. God has a plan for ALL of us and he wants us ALL to participate in his great redemption story!