Are You as Powerful as Melissa?

In my recent blog about Be Chief’s charity partner, Sammy’s House, I referenced a six-year-old wheelchair-bound girl, “Melissa,” who taught me what a true power looks like. After several requests from readers to learn a little more about her, I thought I’d share her story here—and challenge you to see how powerful you are.

Years ago, I volunteered at a rehabilitation facility in Morristown, NJ, working with a gifted physical therapist in a 100-degree heated pool. I assisted as the therapist used the warm water to stretch the muscles of children challenged with cerebral palsy and other muscular disorders.

We’d already worked with several kids on the day I first met Melissa. I remember her waiting patiently for her turn in the pool. Her calm demeanor and watchful eyes caught my attention. She seemed to be quietly taking everything in. When we got her in the pool, her smile lit up the room.

When we started the session, she was as focused on her task as anyone I had ever seen. She had one goal—she wanted to extend both arms together to enable her hands to grasp a small sponge basketball toy, drop it in a floating net, and score two points. At first, both of her hands were rigidly held close to her shoulders. During her first session, we were able to get just one arm to relax—and it moved just a few inches. Melissa gave it 100%, but this was going to be a long process.

I remember being struck by how each member of the rehab staff was affected by Melissa. I remember how Melissa entered the water with that same enthusiasm and focus every time, and after each session she made a point to say thank you to both her therapist and me.

It took Melissa nearly six months of weekly sessions to meet her goal. When she finally succeeded she let out a cry of joy that I can still hear to this day, as staff members in the area applauded.

She was confident. She was clear about her goal. Her energy was contagious. She influenced each of us and has made an impact to this day. She served others as a role model in so many ways. She sure served me, even when I started out with the belief that I was there to serve her.

And she reminded me that those with disabilities have amazing abilities to share with those of us whose challenges aren’t as visible. She is what I refer to as a Chief.

Your Power

How powerful are you? Do you give 100% like Melissa? Did you know you can actually measure your power and find ways to increase it? I created a brief survey to help you do just that.

The power you will measure has nothing to do with your title or position. It’s focused on influence, clarity, energy, confidence, and impact—the measures of real power.

Take the survey.

And no, Melissa never took the survey. Good thing too, because nobody would beat her score!

Melissa taught me to give 100%, so I’m giving 100% of the author proceeds from Be Chief sales to Sammy’s House.

Sammy’s House is a nonprofit agency that provides services for children with and without special needs. The organization operates a child development center, a respite care program, a summer camp, as well as family support services to fill the gaps in services for children and their families. Sammy’s House believes that all children have the ability to learn and to contribute to the community. The organization is particularly focused on children who are medically fragile and/or developmentally delayed. Children at Sammy’s House learn the values of acceptance and compassion, and the art of caring for one another. And like Melissa, these special kids each have a lot to teach the rest of us.