Do you lead yourself first?

“Great leaders last because they lead themselves first.”

Andy Stanley

Self-leadership is the most important component of becoming a successful leader. How can you expect anyone else to follow you if you don’t set the example and demonstrate that you can lead yourself?

So what does this mean? It carries much more meaning than simply leading by example. It requires tremendous self-awareness and the ability to get outside of your own head to see yourself, and your behavior, and then determine what changes need to be made to become the leader you know you are capable of becoming.

The model of leadership effectiveness that I personally use follows these core principles: (see previous post here)

  1. Set clear expectations
  2. Coach and train to the expectations
  3. Evaluate performance against the expectations
  4. Hold accountable to the expectation

The real self-leadership question is whether you are holding yourself accountable to following these same principles? If the answer is no, then you have work to do because you aren’t leading yourself first…

Say “no” to non-essentials…

“The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”

Lin Yutang

I have been on a journey to simplify in life and focus only on the most essential and important things. It is incredibly challenging for me to do, but has been very enlightening and clarifying. Definitely not saying that I am wise, but that I can see and have great appreciation for this wisdom.

It is interesting to see how much time we spend doing things that truly aren’t essential. There are so many things in life that are competing for our attention that saying “no” can be truly liberating. I will say that doing so takes more discipline and intentional focus than I would have ever thought possible. But it is worth every tough decision.

What is the one thing you should say “no” to today?

The best question…

“Perhaps the very best question that you can memorize and repeat, over and over, is, ‘what is the most valuable use of my time right now?'”

Brian Tracy

How often do you ask yourself this question? How often do you answer it honestly…? What would you need to change to make the answers to the question easier to actually do? How many times does it happen where you get to the end of the day and wonder if you actually accomplished anything?

The answers to these questions might not be easy or answers that you like. But changing them to ones that you do like could change your world…

Will it matter in 10 years?

“In ten years’ time will you look back at your past week and be glad how you chose to spend it?”

Freequill

Ten years is a long time! Think about that in regards to your choices for this coming week? Will they be impactful and matter ten years from now? If you wanted the week to matter what would have to be different? What about one year from now?

What are you willing to quit doing?

“You will never find time for anything. If you want the time, you must make it.”

Charles Buxton

What do you wish you had time for? How long have you been wishing for it? What is it going to take for you to be able to do it? What are you willing to quit doing in order to make the thing you want to do happen?

I often wish that there were 36 hours in a day. But there still wouldn’t be enough time do do all the things I want to do. Since I can’t conjure up more hours in the day I guess I’ll focus on answering the questions written above. I think the last one is the most important…

Direction vs. Time

“Live your life by a compass, not a clock.”

Stephen R. Covey

What sets our day, our clock or our compass?  It’s funny when you think about it, the world was discovered not with a clock, but a compass. But nowadays time is everything that we care about.  We wear a watch, we schedule our days to the down to the last minute.  How often do we check to make sure that we are going in the right direction?

What if instead of a watch we wore a compass on our wrist to check and see if we were moving in the right direction?  I don’t know about you but staying on time seems to take priority in life over direction at times.  We focus on the importance of time instead of focusing on where we are going.

The bottom line is this.  You need both a compass and a watch.  But it needs to be in that order.  If you put a clock ahead of of the compass you’ll make great time, but you won’t know where you are going….

Where do you choose to invest?

“Giving up something now for something better later is not a sacrifice. It is an investment.”

Andy Stanley

What is really important?  Is the things we have now, or those we want in the future?  Where would you choose to invest your time or energy in order to achieve something better later?  

If you know the answer to that question then the real question is this one…  

Why don’t you?

Dwell with intent…

“I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become.”

Oprah Winfrey

Is the glass half full, or half empty?  Are others out to help you, or persecute you?  Are you helpful, or helpless?  Are you a conqueror or a victim?  We all know people who  choose to fit into the  “negative” side of these questions.  They are focused on dwelling on what happens to them instead of focusing their energy on how they can change, grow, learn and evolve.  If one is determined to be taken advantage of, they will be.  How we frame the way we see the world becomes our world.  I also know people who focus on the “positive” aspects and they are the ones that truly inspire and motivate me.  They too have become what they dwell on, and have incredible impact on the lives of others because of it.  

The same trap applies in leadership as it does in life.  Do we dwell on the things we can’t control and look right past the things that we can influence and impact? Does our leadership focus on serving others or being served?   Focusing on the wrong side of the equation can create a self-fulfilling prophecy, for better or for worse.  The good news is that we have a choice.  Who do you want to become?  What is it that you need to dwell on to make that happen?

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