“I have participated in every bad decision I’ve ever made. I’ve talked myself out of exercising and into dessert. I’ve been present at every boring meeting I’ve ever led.” Andy Stanley said as he taught at Leadercast a couple of years ago. The topic: self-leadership. You are the hardest person to lead.
Three decisions are required in order to lead ourselves well. First, we must decide not to lie to ourselves, even when the truth makes us feel bad about ourselves. We consistently deceive ourselves, talking ourselves into something we know isn’t good for us, like over spending because the deal is so great, over indulging in order to celebrate, or fudging the truth for a “good reason.” The challenge is to ask ourselves out loud: “Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this . . . really?” Banging our shin on the coffee table in a dark room can be avoided with a simple flip of the switch. Telling ourselves the unfiltered truth is a huge key toward leading ourselves well.
Second, decide to prioritize what we value most over what we want now. We live in the tension between the immediate and the ultimate. Immediate gratification is so satisfying, until tomorrow when we pay the price. We won’t be able to lead ourselves well until we understand our values. Once we’re clear on our values, choosing the ultimate rather than the immediate is a challenge worth taking.
The third decision Stanley discussed was not leading ourselves by ourselves. When we think back to the greatest regrets in our life, we were with people — people who supported our regrettable decision. Most of the time people are influencing everything we do from Facebook posts to doctor’s opinions. In order to lead ourselves where we want to go, we need to be surrounded by people who share common values with us, not just common interest. Finding a tribe that moves, almost carries us toward our goals (because it’s the same direction they are already going) is the absolute best way to lead ourselves well.
Mahatma Ghandi weighed in on the topic of self leadership when he said, “You must be the change you wish to see.”
Go change the world! Start with yourself.