When the Queen declares the UK parliament open, it’s open.
When your boss tells you you’re fired, or you’re hired, the declaration makes it so.
Although the power of a particular declaration depends upon who is speaking (just try declaring parliament open and see if anything happens…), we all have the capacity to declare. And while your declarations don’t have unlimited power they do have power.
I love you – a declaration of feeling, and of relationship.
This year I will… – a declaration of commitment.
I don’t want to do this any more… – a declaration of the end of a commitment.
I want… and I don’t want… – a declaration of preference.
I’m so sad… – a declaration that reveals your inner state
Every declaration you make discloses your inner world to others, makes intentions and commitments known, and opens up or closes down possibilities. And, made sincerely, declarations have enormous potential to shape your engagement with the world.
And yet many people do not declare. We’d rather say ‘It’s important everyone is at the meeting on Tuesday’ (an assessment) than ‘I want you all to come to the meeting on Tuesday’ (which clearly declares our own part in what we’re saying). Or we’d rather hold back from saying ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m scared of what’s going to happen’ because we don’t know how others will react.
We hold back, because declaring puts us at risk. And then we wonder why we seem to have so little sense of purchase on our lives.
By declaring you have to account for yourself, make yourself known. But if you want to participate, in any way, in authoring what happens in your life and in your work, starting to declare – clearly, often, with sincerity – is a vital step.