I’ve been writing quite a bit on the importance of leading yourself first. I believe it’s important – even foundational – as a prerequisite to the effort and energy we use trying to lead others. But it’s not all about “me.” In fact, the motivation to lead yourself first finds its greatest meaning and significance when its about serving others.
If all we focus on is trying to create a better version of ourselves – if that becomes the end of all of our means – we will find the effort less rewarding. Individualism is a religion that has left many all alone at the top of their world.
When I was in the third grade, the popular way (and most direct way) to ask a girl if she liked you was to write her a note expressing your affection and at the bottom give her three options to check her answer (Yes!, no, and my personal favorite…maybe). Then you’d give the note to your friend, who gave it to her friend, who hopefully passed it on to the girl it was intended for.
Of course, my preferred response (but often left unchecked) was a “yes,” but at the very least, I had let her know her options.
When you communicate with others and you need something from them, make sure and clarify the appropriate response you expect from them.
With the weather changing, we’re entering into the flu season. People stay away from other people who have the flu because they don’t want to get it. Contagious is a condition that passes on to me what you already have.
The truth is we pass on things to other people everyday. Disease isn’t just physical. A bad attitude is contagious. Complaining is contagious. A sense of hopelessness (despair) is easily caught as well.
If those are your symptoms, I’m going to do my best to stay away. I don’t want to catch those things. I don’t want to pass them on to others.
Every interaction leaves an impression. While some may have built up a resistance to what you are passing on, many will find themselves susceptible to your influence.
The question is: If people are going to catch something from you, what will it be?
I’m in the process of writing a book on developing student leaders. While that really sounds cool and admirable – I quickly realized that one doesn’t just sit down and write a book (at least this someone – me! – doesn’t do it that way).
I have a wide range of thoughts, quotes, and ideas that I need to organize. I feel like I’ve forgotten at least half of the ideas because I didn’t have a good system to capture them. It’s amazing all of the good stuff one can think up in the shower and forget by the time you’re done toweling off.
While there are a number of great tools and resources out there for idea capturing (Evernote, moleskine notebooks, the back of one’s hand), I’m still impressed with the simplicity and beauty of the index card.
The way a person spends his or her time say a lot. Use it, abuse it, mismanage it, or make the most of it – our use of time effects whether we’re able to do things that really matter.
Michelangelo is noted on one occasion as working feverishly to finish a certain project. When he was questioned and warned that the effort may “cost him his life!” he responded, “What else is life for?” Having thrown himself passionately and wholeheartedly into his art, he was willing to use every moment to see his work through. This affirms what Philosopher William James said: “The best use of one’s life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”
The most overused phrase of the last two years: “In these economic tough times…” It’s become the preamble to almost every statement that carries bad news. If the economy ain’t good, ain’t nothing else good.
You get word from the top that your operational budget needs to be cut. Conservative spending is the new norm. Layoffs are the nagging fear. And we wonder how we’re going to be as effective or efficient.
So if we can’t spend money, what can we spend?
We can pay attention.
We can invest in kindness.
We can put our money on the value of people.
We can create a stipend of sensational service.
We can provide an honorarium of helpfulness.
We can put up a bounty on believing in others.
We can compensate with values like courage, character, and compassion.
We can profit from positive attitudes.
We can spend our time on tenacious thoughtfulness.
Less cash is never an excuse for less effort.
Meeting Planner/Organizer Worksheet (click for larger view)
Every once in awhile I go back through some of the resources I’ve created and give them a fresh look.
I just updated what has been my most popular resource ever – The Meeting Planner/Organizer Worksheet (MPOW).
Version 2.0 includes:
- A cleaner layout
- Better use of symbols
The MPOW has been a wonderful tool for people who lead meetings. It is a one page PDF designed to help you cover all the bases – both before, during, and after the meeting. Many of the ideas I’ve learned for what makes an effective meeting have been incorporated into the information and checklists on this worksheet.
Check it out. Pass it out to the people who lead your meetings. Point others to the download link.
This resource, as with all my resources, is available on my Resources page.
On the surface of the water, an iceberg can appear small and harmless. But underneath the water’s surface, the major portion (90%) of the iceberg can pose serious threats to boats and vessels that pass too close (think Titanic).
The bulk of the iceberg lives below the surface. It’s not visible to those who pass by. But it’s there.
This is a powerful illustration of what it means to lead yourself first. As you consider your own life, there are parts that people can see. The behaviors, responses, and attitudes you display are observable. But there is a part of you, the inside of a person, that isn’t as easily discernable. This is the part that a leader must start with. This is the area that a leader must lead first. It’s the 90% below the waterline – the part only you can really see.
Here’s the punchline to this whole illustration: Many leaders are only concerned about the 10% that people can see and do whatever they want with the 90% that’s below the surface. But leading yourself first means you’re focused on the 90%, the below-the-surface part, because you know this is what effects the 10% that people can see.