I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what it looks like to be a leader who knows how to lead themselves. I think it’s undervalued- Being the change that one wants to see, coming up with solutions to challenges that don’t have to be challenges, and overcoming the fear that no-one will understand or appreciate what you put out into the world. However, I have become very aware that this is the leadership I do best. I have become better at not letting perfection stop me from doing the work that needs to be done when I feel the time is right. A friend recently me asked me what I do in my free time since it sounds like I am very busy putting legs to ideas, advocating for myself, and taking advantage of opportunities that could lead to me working on big ideas with equally passionate people/organizations. This IS my free time. For now. I am leading myself.
I used to want to lead so that I could be a role model and set an example, but over the past few years I have noticed a shift towards leading myself for ME. I want my life to “add up” and not be full of regrets when I look at it closely. I have also noticed this mindset in specific women in my profession that have mentored me in some shape or form since graduate school. These women dare to bring solutions to the table, invest in their staff, and take advantage of opportunities to grow as professionals. They keep pressing on in the face of opposition. I am not sure how they do it but in a way they show me that there is someone a few years, or many years, ahead of me that is still doing work that is messy but important. These self-leaders make me excited. They haven’t given up. So, I don’t have to either. We have the secret ingredient. It has also recently come to my attention that some of my closest friends and colleagues that I have great respect for are also self-leaders. I am in awe when I catch up with them to hear all that is going on in their lives and realize that they didn’t ask for my permission or anyone else’s to be awesome.
A few months ago, I wanted to write about mentoring and call attention to the need for strong examples of what it looks like to NOT give in to passive-aggressiveness in the workplace. I realize now that this is something only self-leaders can do. They are the only individuals that can do the work needed to set a authentic example when it comes to such a sensitive topic. Even then, it takes much practice. I have had a prayer over the past months for leaders to have character, vision and joy. I used to think that character was the tricky one but joy is actually a close competitor. Both are closely linked to self-leadership. Both also point me back to my underlying faith as I consider how Jesus is my best example of a self-leader. As I write this, I pause to think about whether or not I have experienced and acknowledged joy in self-leadership. I certainly have. I also celebrate self-leadership in others. This must mean that I am on the right track.
Not everyone is a self-leader but anyone can make the decision to become one in their own time. Because it doesn’t seem to be valued as much as other forms of leadership, I did not always know how to fully appreciate this quality in myself. I do now. I appreciate it like I appreciate the space and silence that I have mentioned in other posts.
Questions to ponder:
Are you a self-leader? If you answered no, what is preventing you from becoming one?
If you answered yes to the previous question, when did you start to notice this quality in yourself?
If you answered the previous question, where has your self-leadership journey taken you?
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