Have you ever asked yourself, “Am I leading myself well?” When we think about leading others, we often forget that we must lead ourselves first. If we aren’t leading ourselves well, we certainly will not be able to lead others well.
To think about this further, we must consider how we define leading ourselves and others. Leading ourselves is not objective; it is pretty subjective how we lead. Whether we are leading a major corporation, a team in a company, a small business, a volunteer project, a family, or a neighborhood event, leading others and leading ourselves requires attuned awareness of emotional intelligence (EQ).
EQ means we know how we are feeling and can sense how others feel. It requires us to be wise of our emotions and — of even greater importance — acknowledge how others feel. If you’re not leading yourself healthily, you’ll be unable to lead others healthily.
What are the areas of personal leadership I have to lead myself?
There are four areas where we must lead ourselves well if we want to lead others well. These areas flow from one another, and I would suggest that they are wired within our DNA, which means they transcend time, culture, and class. These are the four areas:
How are we leading our mind’s well-being? What are our thoughts, intelligence, and stimulus from the right and left side of our brain? Are we leading ourselves with healthy sleep patterns and healthy viewing patterns? Do we require our mind to see everything as urgent and essential, or are we making our mind work in the space that allows us to best think on our feet?
How are we leading our bodies? Are we consuming fuel that will sustain us for the long haul or quick portions that lead us to more extended downtime? Think for a moment; only a few people have a speed bike as an everyday mode of transportation. Often we physically treat our bodies as if they are speed bikes. Are you leading yourself with good physical fitness, good meals, good patterns of sleep, and good patterns of social media consumption? Everything we physically put in our body from all our senses—smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste—has to come out. If what goes in is poor nutrition, then what comes out is poor fruition.
How are you doing emotionally? Are you in a good spot in your gut? Are you finding anxiety in the situations you’re in and the circumstances in your life? What are your worries? Is there resolution or will those worries continue to plague you? Are you strategizing escape plans or routing paths to scale your emotional mountains? You’ll empty your emotional baggage on others if you’re emotionally empty.
Our spiritual wellbeing is the foundation of how we will lead ourselves and others. Are you in tune with the reality of your being? Do you see yourself as a moment in time—a pivotal moment for sure—but a moment, nonetheless? When we are off spiritually, we are dependent and reliant upon ourselves, and we are never at our best. We are constantly striving for our best, but the best is always outside our grasp, no matter who we are. When we are spiritually void, we will be void of grace, reality, and accountability.
How do I begin to lead myself well?
Take inventory: Do this with others. Allow others to take the inventory with you. Choose people you trust and who genuinely love you enough to be honest with you through radical honesty.
Take action: Choose a goal that is easy to begin with. Some ideas might include:
- Set a public Lag and Lead goal or SMART goal in each area.
- Listen to a podcast each day or listen to a TED talk instead of watching mind-numbing TV.
- Walk or work out for 40 minutes a day.
- Discover your emotions and being okay with them or talking to someone once a month about how you’re doing.
- Commit to 10 minutes a day of meditation, prayer, scripture reading, leaving your phone in your car, or singing worship songs as loud as you sang in the shower as a teen.
- Go to church once a week.
Give yourself grace: I’ve struggled my entire life with weight. After 45 years, I’ve learned that I will have days when I blow my caloric allowance out of the water, (feels like a win), and tomorrow is a new day where my routine and lifestyle begin again.
When you fail in one, (or all four), of the above, do the following:
- Acknowledge your mistake. Own, Apologize, Listen, and Learn.
- Repent, but don’t defend. Turn away from that moment of failure; it doesn’t define you.
- Return to leading yourself well. Start again and continue the journey of who you are.
Leading well with habits in these areas doesn’t lead to perfection, but rather to consistency, which is a mark of a great leader.