Some time ago, I was to prepare a speech on my leadership style. I researched all possible types of leadership, and I took some online tests to tell me what kind of leader I was. I did not manage people directly, so I could not know if the test results were accurate. The more I read, the more confused I became. I thought of the leaders I worked with: some were command-and-control managers making all the decisions and overseeing and assigning tasks. Others created a more collaborative work environment and showed what leadership is all about. Reminiscing on my past bosses was quite reflecting, but I still did not help me to solve the mystery. My stubborn mind kept repeating: How can I know if you do not manage people. I was getting a little anxious when out of the blue, I realized the answer was more obvious I could imagine: I lead myself.
Self-leadership is influencing yourself to achieve your objectives. It is about achieving personal excellence and mastery. It is also about becoming your best possible self, developing a strong personal brand, and being unstoppable in making your dreams a reality.
What does it take to become a self leader? I would love to share with you two strategies that helped me at the very beginning of this journey:
1.First of all, I take responsibility. For everything.
When something is not happening according to your plan, what do you do? For many people, they blame, they complain, and they make excuses that it was not their fault. In other words, they are giving away the power to change. I was not any better. I used to think that I was born a certain way, and there was no escape from that. I used to blame my parents, my country, people, destiny, and everything around. On my way to personal growth, I understood that no one is to be successful by making excuses and blaming everything in their lives.
This approach helps me to experience joy and control of circumstances. I can make choices because I understand that I am the only person responsible for my actions. Indeed, even when events that are not under my control go badly, I can at least determine how I will react to the event. I can make it a disaster, or I can use it as an opportunity to learn and to grow. Changing my perception from life happens to me to I create my own life made me feel liberated from everything that was holding me back.
2.This change would not be possible without my second strategy, which is Self-awareness. In my view, it is crucial to recognize that self-awareness is not only about what we notice about ourselves but also about how we monitor our inner world.
So if self-awareness is so crucial, why are we not more self-aware?
Well, the most obvious answer is that most of the time, we are not there to observe ourselves. In other words, we are not there to pay attention to what is going on inside or around us. Many of us operate on autopilot, unconscious of what we are doing or how we feel. Our mind tends to wander to somewhere else other than here and now.
My favorite Ways to Cultivate Self-Awareness include:
- Creating some space for myself. I leave myself some time every day – in the morning and before sleep when I stay away from the digital distractions and spend some time with myself, reading, writing, meditating, and connecting with myself.
- I also practice mindfulness. It is the key to self-awareness. You can practice mindfulness at any time you want, through mindful listening, mindful eating, or walking.
- I try to be a good listener. Listening is not the same as hearing. Listening is about being present and paying attention to other people’s emotions, body movements, and language. Listening is not about hearing what you want to hear. It is about showing empathy and understanding without constantly evaluating or thinking about how to respond. When you become a good listener, you will also be better at listening to your inner voice. It is when the beautiful journey or personal growth begins!
- Gaining different perspectives by seeking feedback and escaping comfort zone. It might be overwhelming initially as many of us fear criticism and bias opinions. However, you will be able to differentiate them from real, genuine, and balanced feedback as you learn more about yourself and others. We all have blind spots, so it is helpful to gain a different perspective to see a fuller picture of ourselves.
We live and work in a highly competitive world that is changing every minute. It means that you need to distinguish yourself from others by presenting a unique personal brand that stands out in a crowded and competitive market. Mastering others is a strength while understanding yourself is a great power. As Dee Hock, the founder of Visa said: If you want to lead, invest at least 40% of your time in leading yourself. Fortunately, self-leaders can develop themselves. It is a mindset and skillset that everyone can learn. If you want to be an example to others, why not start with leading yourself?