By my sophomore year in high school I knew that I wanted to be the president of our marching band. Something about that position of leadership was appealing to me. As a result, my sophomore leadership novice self began to listen and watch the current leaders hoping to determine what I needed to do in order to claim lofty this position. I already had a pretty grounded sense of what leadership was through smaller opportunities I’d gain in middle school but I was now a little fish in a bigger pond. As a result, I cataloged everything I learned and took vigorous mental notes. By my senior year, I became president of the band, vice-president of the National French Honor Society, editor of the HOSA newsletter, and had racked up a myriad of different certificates and recognitions. Needless to say, I was obsessively focused on that goal I had set 3 years prior.
I don’t say all this to toot my own horn; I was a complete hot mess throughout my four years of high school and leading teen, post pubescent girls and boys was difficult to say the least. But we were successful and exceeded our goal set at the beginning of the season. What I’ve found over all my leadership experience (post- high school experience included), is leading a group of people wasn’t the most difficult part. Leading myself the hardest most critical battle when it came to being the leader I aspired to be. And so, I’ve complied a list of 7 ways to lead yourself to be a successful leader.
- Have a clear sense of direction. Where are you going? Where do you want to be? If you don’t have a clear direction, or if you find yourself drawn in every direction, take time to write out goals. When I started this blog, I wrote down three words that I wanted this space to be about; dream, create, & inspire. Under those three words I wrote down exactly what I wanted it to look like. Anytime I begin to lose focus or can’t figure out what to write, I remind myself of these three words, “dream, create, and inspire.”
- Reflect and analyze. Taking time to look back is always important. As a serial reflector and professional day dreamer, there are times where my imaginings are a distraction. But by looking back you can correct mistakes and adjust you path.
- Don’t take no for an answer. The easiest person to say no to is yourself. You say no to that early morning working out. You say no to taking time to care for yourself and overbook your schedule. You say no when you should be chasing your dreams but trade it for Netflix because you don’t “feel” like it. Enough is enough! Stop saying no to the things that lead you to where you want to go. Don’t base all your decisions and emotions on who you are today. Be faithful to who you want to be tomorrow.
- Rest when you’re tired, not when you’re drained. One of the lessons I’ve learned is I can’t lead myself if I’m exhausted emotionally, mentally, or physically. Ironically, I know if I’ve pushed myself past my limit when I can’t sleep at night. Take time to “un-hustle.” Divert your attention. Love on yourself a bit. Work will always be there.
- Keep smaller daily goals. I’ve started to limit my to-do list to 7 attainable things each day. It’s not to say I don’t accomplish more than 7 things in a given day but setting smaller attainable daily goals helps to manage my anxiety and focus my time. Plus, I’m that person who completes some thing not on my list and adds a line just so I can cross it off. 😜
- Don’t go tell it on the mountain. Leading yourself means knowing and discerning when to speak and when to keep things to yourself. One of the best ways I can lead myself is to take my goals, write them down, pray about them, and hit the ground running. I’ve found that every idea I’ve over advertised has failed. Why? Because something about sharing your goals with people and receiving their affirmation feels the same as completing a goal (it’s psychology, google it.) And I for one don’t want to be a wasteland of scattered plans due to my own negligence. Eventually, along the way you find a community of people who support your drams and can critique and contribute to your dream rather than simply applaud you.
- Give yourself space to grow. No one is perfect and you will fail at leading yourself well. I know I for one have 28 years worth of failed leadership attempts. Rather than beat yourself up for failures or breeding shame because your reality doesn’t mean your expectations, take a moment and breathe. A lot of times leading yourself has more to do with taking an actual step and less to do with the end result.
So lead yourself well and in the process, you may unveil things about yourself you never knew.