When I’m standing in front of a room full of people and talk about the importance of leading yourself well, everyone typically nods their heads.
They nod for a couple of reasons:
1. They know they need to lead themselves well.
2. They know someone who hasn’t led him or herself well.
Affirmative nods are one thing. Affirmative action (not the kind you’re thinking of) is another. Knowing you have to lead yourself well is not enough. You and I need to use this knowledge to guide the actions required to lead ourselves well. It’s a matter of right belief fueling right behavior. If the actions aren’t there, it doesn’t matter what you believe or know.
Imagine you are traveling on your local interstate highway. Along the way, you encounter mile markers. These markers serve a few different purposes:
1. They tell you where you are.
2. They tell you how far you’ve come.
3. They tell you how far you have to go.
I have found there are certain M.A.R.K.E.R.s that help us to move forward (to grow!) in the process of leading ourselves well. These M.A.R.K.E.R.s are action items. When we pay attention to these M.A.R.K.E.R.s, they serve us with similar purposes as the mile markers do.
Mission – Your mission is the target on the wall. It answers the question about the purpose, passion, and pursuits in your life. Have you written yours down? Do you know what you are working toward? When people ask you what you do, is your mission woven into your answer?
Authenticity – When you lead yourself well, you make decisions about the type of person you are going to be. Then, you manage those decisions every single day. When you act in ways that are contrary to the person you say you are, we say you lack character. Authenticity is the ability to be yourself and to be that on a consistent basis. Consider how your actions reflect your true self.
Roles – We all have a variety of roles. I am a father, a friend, a communicator, and a teacher. Take the time to identify your roles. Which roles have greater priority (this may fluctuate)? How are you fulfilling your mission within each role? We achieve balance in our lives when we can accomplish what’s most important in each of the roles we embody.
Know Yourself – If you are going to lead yourself well, you need to know as much as you can about yourself – the good and the bad. Here are some great ways to get to know yourself: 1. Assessments. 2. Interviews. 3. Try something new. 4. Get feedback.
Everyday – This is the one action that is a MUST for effective self-leadership. You cannot take a day off from leading YOU well. Identify those things you must do each and every day. This is called discipline. You can recognize discipline in lives of those who stay healthy, write books, accomplish worthwhile goals, and are trustworthy. They have developed the habit of doing the right things everyday.
Reflection – In the leadership books I recommend to others (I’ll save that for a future post), the authors place a priority on the leader’s thinking. If you want to do what a leader does, you must think the way a leader thinks. This is also true when it comes to leading yourself well. Take the time to evaluate and reflect on the lessons life is teaching you. Make thinking part of your preparation for projects and personal development. Place reflection time on your calendar.
Each of these M.A.R.K.E.R.s will provide you with action items. They are useful for creating a plan to keep you moving forward. It’s not enough to know what you need to do…you have to do it.
Please leave a comment…Which one of the M.A.R.K.E.R.s will be most helpful in your own self-leadership efforts?