When I was in my twenties, I thought I had it all together. Graduated from college (degree in Business Information Systems); got a job related to my degree ; learned it wasn't what I wanted to do (learned later I enjoyed working with people, not computers). I continued on to a few other professions. Always did well, but it still didn't click inside of me.
When I was in my early thirties, I thought it was all coming together. Then a few life "speed bumps" happened (I'd prefer not to call them "challenges.") Got a divorce. Got re-married. Moved to a new town. Started a family. And started a brand new career. I managed to pull it all together. Looking back, I did relatively well in all of my careers. I'm sure part of it was being at the right place, at the right time; and the other part was spending my whole life learning to be in survival mode by being adaptable and being a quick learner.
Then in my mid-thirties, I discovered leadership development and personal growth. Well, let's just say these were the magical years I really grew up. I always knew something was missing, I just didn't know what it was or if it had a name.
I'm grateful every single day for what I've learned and have applied from growing myself as a leader. I'd like to call it self-leadership because that's what it really is. It's figuring out and learning how to be humble and get myself out of the way so the real me could step out and grow.
It sounds crazy as I'm writing this but I know it makes sense to some of you. Am I right?
I'm still a student of this work. I believe we never stop learning until the day we die. So I'm in good company. Through it all, I've learned a few right things to do to move the needle and a few mistakes along the way not to repeat again. I thought I'd share some of those mistakes so you may not have to make those learning stops along the way.
I already know this stuff. As I speak, train and coach about self-leadership, I get many great feedback in how these principles have shifted people's thinking. Some have even told me it's changed their lives. I've also gotten a handful of feedback from others of, "It seems like common sense information." I respect that. Because that's what I used to think when I was in my early thirties too.
I've also learned that when you think you already know something, you don't have the willingness nor the desire to learn and grow from it. One of the favorite questions I like to ask is, "If you already know this, are you applying it? And how's it working for you?" I ask this not to be argumentative but I ask from a place of curiosity.
I'm doing just fine. It's the other people around me who need it. Self-leadership is like looking in the mirror...of your soul. Until you're willing to look at the reflection in the mirror and see it for what it is, you think something is wrong with the mirror.
The work of self-leadership is the most challenging one, regardless of your education level, your age or your economic background. It requires you to take ownership for what is working and what is not working first. It starts from the premises that if it's going to be, it's up to me.
The moment you say that it's someone else's responsibility to change or to fix it, you're actually giving up control of the new result you could cause.
Self-leadership is for people who are lost. On the surface, the statement may make sense. With closer inspection, here's what I've learned. The true great leaders of our times understood the power of self-leadership. They worked on themselves first before they expect others in their organization to develop.
Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, was outspoken about the value of how having a coach helped him discover new perspectives that helped him grow his company. For those who truly understand that none of us is that great alone, they seek out a coach or a mentor to further develop their self-leadership and the necessary leadership skills to elevate their organizations, their communities or even their families.
Those are the mistakes I've learned about self-leadership. I'm glad I know what I know now because I could make a greater contribution in the world when my priority is to lead myself and take ownership of my situations first.
It's never too late to start the growth from within. It just takes decades longer to do it all alone.
Are you inspired to becoming a student of leadership development? The most challenging person to lead is yourself. Are you up for the challenge?
About The Author:
Kasama is a mother, a wife, a well-recognized inspirational speaker who has become a coach, a consultant to professionals in business who want to positively impact their work and their team through leadership development. She is a certified John Maxwell leadership speaker, trainer and coach. She’s a creator of an Online Course Community for professional and personal development:The Winning Formula.
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