Leaders are navigators plotting the course of their life and teams. So how can you lead yourself better today in order to become the person and organization you want to be tomorrow?
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.
– Carl Jung
As the founder of Jungian Typology and creator of 3 out of 4 Myers-Briggs preference sets, Carl Jung seems to know a little bit about how to make the unconscious conscious. But that doesn’t take away from the surprising power of such a simple statement.
Isn’t it true that we feel most helpless, most condemned to the state of our life or fate of the world when we seem to have no words or understanding for how it has come about? The helplessness magnifies when we have no idea or plan for how to change it.
But that’s the power of self-awareness. By bringing the unconscious tendencies, struggles, and frustrations to light, we can begin to address our underlying issues with intentionality and make tomorrow’s version of ourselves a better one than today’s.
So how can you lead yourself better today in order to become the person you want to be tomorrow?
Despite the phrasing above, the first step is to admit that you can’t become the final version of the person you want to be overnight. That takes daily deposits over a long period of time. But the only way to get there is to point yourself in the right direction and take edifying, purposeful steps each day. These steps don’t have to be monumental, history-defining moments of self-sacrifice or brilliance. In fact, most of the people we think of when we think that way are people who did the little things every day to become the person they wanted to be so that when the opportunity for greatness came, they were ready. The worst mistake we can make is to constantly beg or demand for an opportunity (when will it finally be “my time to shine?”) only to be mentally, physically, emotionally, relationally, intellectually, or character-wise unprepared to take advantage of the opportunities when they arrive.
Doing the little things each day will ensure that your decisions align with your goals and that today you are becoming the person you want to be 10 years from now. When all is said and done, it is impossible to lead others with any longevity or excellence without first leading yourself well. If you don’t lead yourself consistently then others won’t want to follow you. Think about it: Isn’t it true that we naturally watch if others are first practicing what they preach before we decide to buy-in to their ideas or leadership?
Lead Yourself First
Therefore, whatever you expect of your team or family you must first expect of yourself. It’s a simple idea, but it cuts to the heart of leadership and influence. Leading yourself means having expectations for yourself, which means you must be intentional in the way you live and work in order to gain influence or followers from those around you.
Why is this so difficult for leaders today? Most likely it’s because we rarely talk about the need for leader consistency, nor do we often experience others who model the concept for us. With that in mind, consider these seven easy tactics for leading yourself better each day.
7 Ways to Lead Yourself Today
- Watch your attitude – if you want positivity then you must ooze it from your pores. You don’t have to be a giddy, bubbly ball of energy, it just means that your internal atmosphere (thoughts, positive/negative self-talk, etc) dictates your external atmosphere, which affects your ability to connect with, work with, and influence others.
- Maintain inner health – spiritual, mental, and emotional maturity leads to personal maturity. If you are not healthy on the inside nothing can be healthy on the outside. Take time to recharge, rest, and center yourself each day, whatever that may mean for you.
- Stay focused on the mission – remind yourself what you have planned to do today, what your team needs to do, and what the organization needs to do. Plan the work, then work the plan.
- Be self-aware – be self-reflective in the morning, after lunch, and after dinner. To lead yourself means you must know yourself first. So don’t walk blindly throughout the day wondering why you feel so angry, frustrated, sad, or even happy. Take time to think about it. “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” – Carl Jung
- Watch your language – this means more than cursing. It means watching the words we use and tone we employ. The old adage is true “it’s not only what you say, but how you say it.” Most leaders can improve in the simple way we treat others, especially when we ourselves are under stress and feel less inclined to give extra attention to our interaction with other people.
- Ask others to join you – make leadership a daily game. Get others involved. If you have focused on the above you will see your leadership capacity and influence improve on a daily basis.
- Imitate those who are humble – No one is perfect, but there are many people in our lives and throughout history whom we can imitate and look up to for positive examples. Sometimes all we need is a target to aim for: Who are some everyday humble leaders you know? What makes them humble? Below are a two examples of humble leaders from history…
Humility in History
1. Neil Armstrong
When Neil Armstrong died, we lost a true hero. As the first person to walk on the moon, he had every reason to boast and become arrogant, yet one of his most praised qualities was his humility.
Even though he had every reason to have an astronomical ego, he went about his job with a quiet strength and confident competency. And he did it all for $8 per diem, in addition to a $17,000-a-year salary. He explored the heavens, but when he returned from his journey to the moon, he kept his feet firmly planted on the Earth.
For the longest time after returning, he denied giving interviews. Finally, Armstrong talked to the author James Clash. When Armstrong died, Clash said of his legacy:
“That’s the kind of man Armstrong was. In a world where everything is about ‘me, me, and me,’ he was a rare throwback to a time when humility and character counted, when people routinely risked their lives not to get rich, bloviate, or self-aggrandize, but for their country, science, and exploration.”
2. Captain “Sully” Sullenberger
After successfully piloting Flight 1549 to safety in the Hudson River, saving more than 150 passengers in the process, Captain Sully exemplified humility as few could. In an interview after the crash, he was modest about his acts of courage, attributing his poise to his training over the years.
“One way of looking at this might be that for 42 years,” he said, “I’ve been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience, education and training. And on January 15 the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal.”
Who Will You Be?
Who will you look up to today? Who will you be tomorrow? How will you get there? Remember, make the unconscious conscious, make daily deposits to invest in who you want to be, then keep sight of the goal. It won’t happen overnight, but you can become a better version of yourself each day.
If you’re interested in learning more about how your intentionality and daily deposits affect your leadership, we’re happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let us know!