For the majority of my life, I have been blessed to have wonderful teachers, coaches, and role models. These teachers didn't always come in the classroom either, they oftentimes came in unwelcome forms, such as an ex-boyfriend, a disagreeable teammate or coworker, a class bully, an unhappy client, etc. The world is a complete wealth of knowledge, and it is oftentimes the people and situations we tend to avoid that can teach us the most and promote our own growth the best.
On a congruent note, there is a strange paradox that we have run into this past year in terms of leadership. An air of hypocrisy, double standards, and lack of appropriate role models to look up to hangs in the air, from our current president on down. We all need to stop settling for what society has deemed to be a normal standard: doing the minimum, instant gratification, limited accountability, mediocrity, discrimination, laziness, sexism, and the list goes on. Our world needs great leaders, and that starts with each and every one of us, here are some summarizations of things I've read and experienced that have helped me immensely in my own quest for self-growth.
1. Be Who You Say You Are
This is an important character quality to possess. No one respects someone who says one thing and then does the opposite, that's obvious right? To lead others, you must take an inside-out approach, meaning you first need to be able to lead yourself. This requires discipline, self-accountability, openness to change, and the willingness to grow. A famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson reads, "What you are shouts so loudly in my ears, I cannot hear what you say", or as we would say in modern times, walk the walk if you are going to talk the talk!
"What you are shouts so loudly in my ears, I cannot hear what you say."
2. Don't Compare
On the subject of quotes, I heard a beautiful saying this summer, "Comparison is the thief of joy." How simple and true is that? If we live comparing ourselves our peers, to social expectations of who we should be, or our own glorified self-image, we will continually be disappointed. This is one area I admit I have really struggled with through my twenties and it has robbed me of self-confidence and happiness too many times. Some of the most influential and effective people I've read about or met all agree, don't waste energy or focus measuring yourself up to anyone else, keep your eyes forward and only measure yourself against who you were yesterday. To grow, we must take advantage of the lessons and opportunities we are given everyday!
"Measure yourself only to who you were yesterday."
3. Lead so others may follow
If you are in a leadership position now, and were to experience a day through the eyes of someone who works under you or looks up to you, would you like what you saw? Would you be a leader that you would like to follow and who follows the Golden Rule (aka treat others how you would like to be treated)? All of these are important questions to continually ask
4. Be able to self reflect
5. Make excellence a habit
The final take away from this post, is the age old principle that we are what we repeatedly do. Your thoughts lead to your beliefs, which lead to your actions, which become your character. No matter how small or unimportant a task may seem, our resolve to do everything to the best of our ability creates habits of excellence. Thus, something as small as tying your shoes properly to as large as leading a team to a championship, should be done as best as we can. If you make excellence a habit, and not just a now and then decision, you will become the author of your life and not the victim of circumstance, "bad luck", or the hardships that you've endured because of other people. That's a leader right there!
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