I recently wrote a post on my own blog entitled “The Essence of Self-Leadership: Start with the End in Mind.” In it, I shared a lesson I learned from my 10-year-old son, Tim. He’s been wanting a BB gun, specifically, a Crosman Stinger S32P Airsoft Tactical Carbine for a long time. However, I’m missing that chromosomal gene that thinks that’s neat. So, it’s been a bit of a battle in our household for years.
I finally told him that if he was going to get one, he’d have to buy it himself, along with safety glasses and the pellets, and he’d have to adhere to a strict set of rules regarding its use. With that all in mind, I was very impressed with Tim’s reaction. I had anticipated that he would give up on the idea because there was so much to learn. He had no experience earning his own money, he had no real support, and he had no plan to work from.
He was frustrated initially until I shared that other boys his age sometimes mow neighbors’ yards, or offer to rake in the fall, or trim hedges. That was the only advice I offered him. He took that limited information, believed he was capable, kept his goal in mind, and developed a plan. He knew what he wanted to achieve and didn’t let seemingly insurmountable obstacles keep him from pursuing his goal.
There’s been some discussion in the leadership community recently as to what it takes to be a true leader. Personally, I believe that leadership starts within. We can’t reasonably lead others until we’ve led ourselves, and the earlier we learn that, the better off we are. Put in the right circumstances, we all have the ability to exhibit leadership qualities (even children).
So, what’s involved in self-leadership?
- Start with the end in mind. When you know your goal and the value you’ve assigned to it, it enables you to do what’s necessary to achieve it.
- Evaluate the steps required to reach your goal. You’ve got to know what reaching your goal entails. Otherwise, you’re just floundering.
- Seek to grow. If you’re uncertain what’s required, ask for advice from those with more experience than you. Read books, listen to webinars, attend conferences, and find mentors to gain the additional know-how you desire.
- Recognize that reaching your goal will require effort. Too many people expect things to be handed to them. Leaders, by contrast, recognize that all good things require effort, from ourselves and our teams.
- Believe in yourself! No one knows you better than you do, but beware of underrating yourself. Often we don’t realize that we are capable of much more than we initially think.
- Be flexible. There are times when a new goal may appear as you continue on your journey towards reaching your goal. Don’t be so attached to one goal that you miss other opportunities that present themselves.
In Tim’s situation, he started with the end in mind. He’d assigned his own personal value to that goal, and was willing to do what was necessary to achieve it. Once committed, he stepped out in faith, making progress towards his goal. Ultimately, a new “end” presented itself (you can read my blog for the details of that). While it wasn’t what he originally set out to do, knowing what his goal was enabled him to recognize the new “end” as a different vision of the same goal; his desire to own his very own BB gun.
How often do we, as adults, give up before we even get going because something’s going to be “too much work,” or hold on to one outcome without being willing to adjust the goal? Mastery of self-leadership is a lifelong occupation. It begins when we’re young and learn that temper tantrums won’t get us what we want, and continues as we ascend through school and into the business world.
Which of these steps of self-leadership do you struggle with most? How can the Lead Change Group help you overcome those obstacles? We’re here as a community of leaders to help one another grow. Leave a comment below and let us know what “end” you are working towards so that we can encourage and support you along the way.